Every Easter weekend, Monte Cristo Rey has an open house, Friday through Sunday.
It's a barely strenuous 5 mi roundtrip, though along an extremely well-maintained path (thank you Archdiocese of El Paso). Along the route are well-decorated shrines/motifs to each of Jesus' 14 stations of the cross. Religions overtones aside, it's one of the better religious-cultural highlights of the area. Bring your camera.
Why 5:15 am? So we can get there slightly after 6, and hopefully beat as much of the crowd and heat as possible (last year their Good Friday turnout was over 10,000 people).
Monte Cristo Rey is dangerous to visit outside of open houses, so if you've ever wanted to go up this mountain without risk of being mugged by Mexican bandits this is the event to do it. There are armed guards at this event.
Getting to the trail head, via Executive Center Boulevard (recommended):
• Take I-10's Executive Center Boulevard exit (16)
• Turn south (left from El Paso; right from Las Cruces), go down past the quarry to Paisano Drive
• 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. If you miss it, follow the Sunland Park directions below.
• Once on McNutt Road, watch out for the signs directing you to Sierra del Cristo Rey. Left onto Cristo Rey Boulevard, a gravel/dirt road taking you up into a quarry.
• Stay 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.
Or via Sunland Park (thanks Michelle T.):
• Take I-10's Sunland Park exit (13)
• Turn south (left if coming from El Paso; right from Las Cruces).
• Turn left onto Doniphan
• Turn right onto Racetrack
• Turn left onto McNutt
• On the right hand side of the road, you'll start seeing dirt parking lots. Turn right onto Cristo Rey Boulevard.
DISTANCE is ~5 mi round-trip.
ELEVATION GAIN is ~2000 ft gained.
FEES: $5/person donation to the Catholic Archdiocese of El Paso. The volunteers who maintain the path and mountain do a fantastic job—consider donating more!
DURATION: Finish by mid to late morning.
PET FRIENDLY? No, pets are not officially allowed, though in the past people brought them anyway. Bring at your own risk.
SKILL LEVEL is beginner friendly, please be in shape. If 10,000 other people can do it, so can you.
TERRAIN is well-maintained (please donate!) jeep road up the mountain.
WEATHER is TBA.
AFTERWARDS we may get breakfast/early lunch afterwards in El Paso
MEET for carpool at:
• Las Cruces: 5:15 am, east of NMSU's Pan Am Center. GPS:[masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/?q=32.285463,-106.740997&z=18), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=32.285463&mlon=-106.740997&zoom=18), USGS topo map (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=32.285463,-106.740997&marker0=32.285463,-106.740997&z=18))
• El Paso: 6:00 am, bottom of the mountain. GPS:[masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/?q=31.792082,-106.541955&z=18), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=31.792082&mlon=-106.541955&zoom=18), USGS topo map (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=31.792082,-106.541955&marker0=31.792082,-106.541955&z=18))
• Mt. Cristo Rey Restoration Committee (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=31.79114&lon=-106.54533&zoom=16&layers=M)
• Map of area (unfinished) (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=31.79114&lon=-106.54533&zoom=16&layers=M)