Rock-climbing options in New Mexico

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of March 13-19, 1997
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Rock-climbing options in New Mexico
Question: I'm hoping to take a climbing/camping trip to New Mexico this spring (April/May). Do you have any suggestions for a varied climbing area around Taos or Santa Fe (preferably sport or some fun top-roping)? Also, I recognize your name/face, are you a Middlebury grad?

Heidi Poulin
San Francisco, CA
[email protected]

You'll have no trouble finding fun and challenging routes in New Mexico
Adventure Adviser: [Re, Middlebury: You probably recognize me from all the hours I logged in Starr Library (is that its name? I can't remember.) while laboring over my thesis. I graduated in '93.]

About climbing in New Mexico, I've heard lots of great things about White Rock Canyon, about 45 minutes northwest of Santa Fe, near Los Alamos. There are at least a few hundred routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.11, spread out over five areas in the canyon.

The best place to start is on the basalt cliffs in Overlook Park, just outside the town of White Rock, off Highway 4. If you're looking for a good overnight trip in the area, consider hiking the 18-mile loop through the high-walled canyons and ponderosa pine forests of Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier National Monument. The hike starts at the visitor's center off Highway 4 and follows the Middle Alamo and Yapashi trails to the Yapashi Pueblo, and then another two miles to a campsite at the bottom of Capulin Canyon. The hike back to your car on day two is via the Upper Alamo Trail, along the Frijoles. The one drawback: no dogs allowed. You'll need to pick up a free backcountry camping permit at the visitor center (505-672-3861) before you go.

Farther afield, there's good, abeit really challenging, climbing at the Enchanted Tower, about three hours southwest of Santa Fe. The routes are mostly 5.11s and 5.12s. You can find them by heading west of Socorro on Highway 60, past the giant satellite field (you can't miss it) to the town of Datil.

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