Whenever Andy and I go on a road trip, I always check out Roadtrippers to see if there is anything worth seeing or doing along our drive. I was super excited when I saw that we would be driving right by the World’s Largest Pistachio on the way to White Sands National Monument. While Andy doesn’t typically like to make stops along the way on road trips, wanting to get to his destination as quick as possible, he is open if he knows about the stop ahead of time.
Our Garmin would not understand the address for McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch as 37 US-82, Alamogordo, NM 88310. We pulled up the map and found that the pistachio ranch was near the intersection of US-70, Hwy 82 and Hwy 54. From there it was easy to find the ranch.
Seeing the World’s Largest Pistachio
The plaque on the world’s largest pistachio stated that it was dedicated to Thomas McGinn, the founder of McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch. He passed away in 2007 and his sons were trying to figure out a way to honor his memory. Evidently, when the family would travel, they loved stopping at roadside attractions. They figured that creating a roadside attraction in his honor would be very fitting.
After we took our pictures, we headed into the gift shop to check it out. We overheard on the loudspeakers that there was a tour at 1pm and since it was 12:55, we decided we should go on it.
The Pistachio Tree Ranch & Vineyard Tour
For a mere $2 each, we had our tickets for the 20 minute tour of the pistachio ranch. We loaded into the tour vehicle and we were off. First we saw the recently planted, relatively small vineyard, which they told us was originally started as a small side project. They provided grapes to other local wineries, then once the vines started growing more grapes they decided to produce their own wine. After our quick tour of the vineyard, we were off to the pistachio trees.
During that 20 minutes we learned a ton about pistachios. Did you know:
- The pistachio nut’s protective cover changes color over the course of the season and include pink, purple and red
- The desert soil is ideal for pistachio trees
- There are male and female trees, only the females have nuts (ironic right?)
- The reason that pistachio nuts are already cracked is because at the end of the season, right before the harvest, all of the trees are heavily watered which expands the nut meat and cracks the shell
- Some years trees under-produce having very few nuts and the next year can be weighted down with tons of nuts. As our tour guide told us, nature just needs a break sometimes!
After the tour, we sampled different flavored pistachios that were out for tasting – from the spicy chili flavor to the sweet pistachio brittle. Everything we tried was delicious and we were tempted to purchase some but figured that our suitcases were already full enough. The wine that is produced on premises was available for tasting as well. We decided to opt out since we were hungry and still had to get to White Sands National Monument.
While we were just going to stop and take some quick pictures with the world’s largest pistachio, the tour was an impromptu decision and very educational. I’m glad that we decided to spend a little more time at the ranch vs. rushing to our next destination.
There was a Christmas ornament which had the World’s Largest Pistachio on it. We cracked up and purchased it, knowing that every year when we put up our tree we’ll remember the visit to McGinn’s.
We did feel bad for Eagle Ranch, the pistachio farm located right next door to McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch. I’m sure the fact that their competitor has the world’s largest pistachio drives a lot of their business away from them.
After we left, we were on a mission to get some lunch. It was getting to be late and we were both quite hungry. We found the Hitch-N-Post BBQ and were very happy with not only the food but the staff was well. When we told them it was our first time there, the waitress gave us a sample of the different meats to try out. The food was reasonably priced, very good and large portions. If you need lunch in the area, we highly recommend it.