CANCELED. The Celebration of the Mountains has canceled this event in anticipation of the weather (high, 50+ mph winds, and chance of rain/snow). Due to the security situation that means we probably shouldn't attempt to do it alone either. Celebration of the Mountains is hosting another hike this Thursday at noon, up Mount Cristo Rey (aka Sierra del Cristo Rey) in Sunland Park, NM. When passing ASARCO on I-10, Monte Cristo Rey is the mountain with the large marble cross perched on top. Visible from Juárez and El Paso, it's the best view into Juárez and the US-Mexico border. Along the ascent are beautifully-adorned monuments and shrines to various saints as well as each of Jesus Christ's 14 stations. The area has a very high crime rate and there are have been several muggings (if not worse). It's dangerous to go alone, unarmed, or in small groups. Which is why this open house on Dec 30 is the perfect time to go -- there will be probably be several hundred people and armed guards along the route (i.e. it's safe). Also, this particular open house is great for photography: most open houses end by noon, but this one starts at noon, so you'll get the some nice late-afternoon light in your photos. It is some 5 miles roundtrip (there are many, many switchbacks). I'm unsure of the elevation gain, but it is strenuous. The Mt. Cristo Rey Restoration Committee requests a $5/person donation for upkeep of the extremely well-maintained road/path up (no rock scrambling). More information:
Mount Cristo Rey's official website,
Celebration of the Mountains event, and
my (draft) map of the area. Meet in:
- Las Cruces: 11:00 a.m. at Pan Am Plaza near Milagro's
- El Paso: 12:00 p.m. at the parking/lot trailhead, which is at the bottom of the mountain. Please see the map to figure out directions, it is a very confusing to get there. The best way, from my memory: take the Executive Center Boulevard exit on I-10 (exit 16). Go south, which goes down past the quarry to Paisano Drive. Take a right on Paisano Drive, heading north/northwest. Take the McNutt Road/Sunland Park/NM Rt. 273 exit (please don't miss it, you cannot turn around and return here easily). Once on McNutt Road, watch out for the signs directing you to Sierra del Cristo Rey. You'll want to take a left off of McNutt onto Cristo Rey Boulevard, which is a gravel/dirt road taking you up into a quarry. Keep following it, staying to the right. You should pass over two railroad level crossings. At the end of this road is the parking lot, where you should see a gate, trailer, and probably a lot of people.
From the event's details: Participants will join a guided hike to the top of Mt. Cristo Rey. Go on a guided hike leaving at Noon.; Hike leaders and others stationed along the way will discuss natural and man-made points of interest on the mountain and the surrounding region. At the top of the mountain will be a presentation on the statue and its sculptor, Urbici Soler; ongoing restoration and preservation efforts; and the geology of the entire panoramic vista, including the volcanic history of Mt Cristo Rey itself. Presenters along the trail will discuss Keystone Heritage Park, native plants and other topics. Geological presentation by UTEP Geological Sciences.