Las Cruces is situated in the fertile Mesilla Valley between the majestic Organ Mountains and the meandering Rio Grande (32°19′11′N 106°45′55′W). The city has a total area of 52.2 square miles.
Las Cruces is classified as an arid, subtropical climate. Spring months are warm and can be windy, sometimes causing periods of blowing dust and short-lived dust storms. Winters alternate between cool and windy weather following trough and frontal passages, with warm, sunny periods in between.
The origin of the city's name is unknown. In Spanish "Las Cruces" means "the crosses". The area where Las Cruces rose was previously inhabited by the Manso people. The area was colonized by Juan de Onate beginning in 1598, and he became its first governor.
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