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Earth-shaking as these vistas are, the Sunspot Highway's sphere of view doesn't stop at the mere horizon but expands to galaxies, nebulae and solar systems of the final frontier. Two national telescope observatories at the byway's terminus offer tours and exhibits to the earthbound public, while a consortium of scientists explores the heavens from its 9,200-foot elevation. The byway is even officially is designated N.M. 6563 – the light wavelength in Angstroms used by scientists to locate active areas on the Sun! As the road zigzags along the Sacramento Mountains, lookouts provide a peek at the dramatic spectacle some 5,000 feet below.
The faraway nearby is close at hand on the Sunspot Scenic Byway. The 15-mile road begins two miles south of Cloudcroft, named for the puffy clouds that frequently hug its forested hillsides. Travel south along NM 6563 to Haynes Canyon Vista, where you may locate landmarks such as Hardscrabble and Little Burro Mountains, Oscura and San Andres Peaks, and the shimmering radiance of White Sands. As the road zigzags along the front rim of the Sacramento Mountains through pine, aspen and fir forests, similar lookouts provide a peek at the dramatic spectacle some 5,000 feet below as well as access to numerous hiking trails. At the end of the Sunspot Byway, experience the many interactive exhibits at the Sunspot Visitor Center and Museum.