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Author Topic: Capitan Mts., SE NM (Part 1)  (Read 2257 times)

Offline trialsguy

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Capitan Mts., SE NM (Part 1)
« on: July 04, 2014, 03:56:44 PM »
Just a little 3-day ride.  Part was in the Capitan Mountains of SE Nuevo Mexico.  Mostly they were a

destination.  We have trials in that corner of the state in the fall, go about 50 miles east of the

Capitans to Roswell, then 20 more miles east to the BLM off-road area called Haystack Mountain.  Last

year, I took my KLR down there and tried to ride west to the Capitans and camp (rather than ride the

trials) but it was cold, damp, and misting, and that was down on the flatlands.  Not as comfortable up

on top.  I turned around. 

I'm glad I did, as I didn't take a good look at maps, and had everything all wadded up in my mind, and

would have been seriously... uh... disoriented and wandered around forever.

This year, Son Trevor would be down there with his sweetie Lia, and I planned on leaving home Friday

morning, and meeting them down there Saturday night after a night in the mountains.

Why the Capitans?  I worked there for the Forest Service in '74-'75 or thereabouts.  They're a (rare)

east-west range, poking up out of the flats, north of Ruidoso and west of Roswell.  I'd been on top

once on a fire, it gets LOTS of lightning strikes, for some reason.  I wanted to go there again. Some

is Wilderness now, but there's a road up the end of the mountain and along the ridge for a ways. 

Riding that was the plan, the goal of the trip...

Oh, and that's where the real Smokey Bear came from.  Cub found in the Capitans.  Bet you didn't know


Sooo... here's a map.  Took some alternate routes.

Heading out of the Albaturkey fringes, on down towards Corona.  Ahhhhh....  Looks pretty bleak in the

photo, but the distant mountains on the left are the Gallinas, then some mesas (one with a wind farm),

out of the photo to the right are the Manzanos, the Sandias, the San Pedros (where I live), the Ortiz,

then (180 behind us) the Sangre De Cristos east of Santa Fe.  From the Gallinas to the Sangre's is

about 120 miles.... love these landscapes!  No claustrophobia here....

Past a pretty neat homestead. I'd love to know the history and the people that built this. 

Onward to Cedarvale, a mini-place along the road.  I'd always thought it was named after the "cedar"

(juniper) trees about 10 miles west.  Nope.  I'm thankful for signs like this.

The old schoolhouse.  I always though it was pretty cool, driving by.  On one trip, I stopped and


Who'd a thunk it?  A subterranian gymnasium, no doubt they had bleachers.  Check out the roof beams. 

I'd give about anything to see a ball game here, when it was in its heyday. 

On to Corona, a good place to gas up.  RR tracks on one side, the town strung out on the other.

A bit south of town, on a totally nondescript hill, another historical marker.  Again... who'd a thunk


The highway goes south to Carrizozo, but there's a dirt road that roughly parallels it, as do the RR

tracks.  Off onto the dirt.

Jicarilla Mountains, looking SE.  Capitans in the left distance.

North of Carrizozo is Ancho ("wide" or "broad").  When I worked for the FS, my roommate was from a

ranch there.  His Mom ran a museum for a lot of years, and I was wondering if there would be anybody

there, maybe learn something about my old buddy.

Nope.  This must've been the museum...

There were only a couple abandoned-looking houses in "town", but it looked like this old schoolhouse

was still being used as a church.

Out back.  Seems all the old schools had such facilities.  You'll see a much better one later.

Don't you wish you could see kids playing here, 'way back when?

Heading east to them Jicarilla Mountains....

Posted, keep out, right?  Hah!  This very public road passes through private land.  You need to keep

on the road and right-of-way, but the sign is totally misleading.  I wonder how many well-behaved,

law-abiding folks following their map see this and turn around?  I have.     

Up in the mouintains, I ran across this really interesting building.

Wow, somebody took it upon themselves to let people like me know what it is.  Thanks! 


A nice big Alligator Juniper. 

Here's why they have that name.

The cistern.  I expect that roof runoff was their drinking water.  (I was a lookout in the Guadalupes,

south of there, and the cistern *was* the drinking water, straight and unfiltered.  Go throw a bucket

down and get some...)

Dovetail joints, hand-hewn logs.

Leaving.  It'll be a long ride trying to find a camping place.  Coulda stopped close to here, but it

was too early. I had no idea what was ahead.

Got out of the serious Forest Service land, into a checkerboard of public/private/public/private....

Then I ran totally out of public land, going east out of the mountains.  It was great country,

seemingly endless rolling grassy plains, really nice.  All gated, fenced, "No Trespassing".  Couldn't

go back, there wasn't any camping for the last 30 miles, so I kept going.  Got back onto Forest/public

land, on Capitan Pass, and there were some sideroads with good camping spots. Ahhhhh...

It's amazing that in such empty country, it can be so hard to find a place to throw your bag out for

the night. 

This is on the far west end of the Capitans.  To the east is West Mountain, then Capitan Gap (where

we're going) then the East Mountain.  East Mountain is by far the bigger of the two, the Main Mountain

so to speak.  Got that?)

Oh, here's dinner.  Yum.

Next morning, heading down into the valley, we camped a bit high last night, but it didn't get too


Capitan.  My memories are of the Smokey Bear Cafe and the Rusty Anchor Bar (where'd they get that


Well, "The Anchor" is gone, anyway, it was breakfast time.  There was another "new" cafe in town, El

Paisano or something like that, it had a herd of Prius's (Prii?) and such out front, I headed for the

Smokey Bear.  It had a bunch of pick-em-ups out front, tethered like horses at a hitching post.

As you might expect, it was very local-low-key, bordering on dumpy.  People talking about the high

school game coming up, people walking in and being greeted by their friends.  A table of camo'd

hunters, the waitress girl approached with a coffee pot... thanks, but there's no coffee drinkers

here.  What?  That beat me....

Anyway, it was good to go there, 40 years later.  I hope it's there 40 more years from now, just as it


East out of town a couple miles, then north to Capitan Gap, between the West and East Mountains.

Road narrowed down once it got past the last ranch turnoff...

The Gap.

The road going up the end of the mountain, then along the ridge.  I knew it'd be a bit rough.  I had a

16t on the front (stock rear), but didn't want to change it for this one little bit of road.

Up the main grade. Some 'gas it and go'.  Way down below, that's the road we came up on.  Sierra

Blanca in the background. As usual, the photo doesn't do it justice.

Along the ridge, the road goes up and down....

Pretty purple things.

For being just a big rockpile, there are some nice forests up there.

Offline rarepartbuilder

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Re: Capitan Mts., SE NM (Part 1)
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2014, 08:54:42 PM »
HI Trials

I'm thinking in the dryer area you must have to change air filters a lot../ carry a spare.

enjoying the report... maybe some day i can edit google earth "much easier" looks good in your RR.


Offline trialsguy

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Re: Capitan Mts., SE NM (Part 1)
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2014, 11:25:12 PM »
HI Trials

I'm thinking in the dryer area you must have to change air filters a lot../ carry a spare.

enjoying the report... maybe some day i can edit google earth "much easier" looks good in your RR.


Actually, I just now cleaned my filter as sort of a "ain't it time to do this, maybe?" thing. 

Definitely no spare.  Slow-speed stuff isn't bad, and hard-packed "gravel" isn't bad either.  Loose silty stuff would be bad, but I avoid that like the plague.   :Aarrg:

The Google Earth stuff was screen-shotted, then messed with in Photoshop, so that's not just a GEarth picture.  I don't know if you could do that with the GEarth tools or not.


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