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Great family trails - part 3


Cabazon Peak, NM

And now for something completely different (apologies to Monty Python). The third trail I’m bringing to you isn’t really a “trail”, but a scenic drive by Cabazon Peak, through some old buildings/ghost town, and finally end up at Guadalupe Ruins. There’s nothing hard at all about this, as you’ll be travelling on graded dirt roads that see a fair amount of travel for the area. But the views and historical places along the way will make it a worthy day-trip from the Albuquerque area.

To get started, you’ll want to head north on US550 from I-25. There’s two main ways to get to Cabazon. You can either turn west on Cabazon Rd, before San Ysidro, or continue on 550 about 20 miles past San Ysidro to CR 279. There is a marker indicating the turn at CR 279 listing Cabazon, as well as San Luis and Torreon. I’ll detail this way, as it’s easier finding your way. If you want to check maps of the area, the other turn is completely passable, but there are more turns involved.

Once on 279, you’ll go about 12 miles, past San Luis, to BLM 1114. Here you can turn left to Cabazon if you want to go get a closer look. If not, continue on 279 at this point. Cabazon is plenty big to see from virtually anywhere along this trip, as it rises almost 2000 feet from the landscape surrounding it.

A few miles more, and 279 takes a gently turn to the south. To your left is Cerro Cuarte, as small hill in the distance between you and Cabazon. Continue on 279 and shortly you’ll come to a bridge which crosses the Rio Puerco. Keep going. About a mile after that bridge, you’ll make a left turn. It’s a fairly major y-intersection, so it’s not hard to miss. This will keep you going parallel to the Rio Puerco. If you missed the turn, you’ll be heading much more west, no harm, just double back.

About 5 miles or so after the left turn at the y-intersection will be the old buildings. There are some fantastic structures here, but this is a right of way through private property, so please respect the area. The two-story building on the left is reportedly a former house of ill repute!

You’re almost to the ruins! It’s less than 2 miles as the crow flies, but a little more as there is a detour to get around the arroyo ahead of you. You’ll follow the road down into the arroyo, and loop back to the east as you climb out of it. Straight ahead is the small mesa with the ruins on top. A word of caution: if the arroyo has water in it, it might be best to stop here and turn back. It’s easily over 25 feet from the top of the arroyo to the bottom of the road here.

Once you reach the narrow, steep mesa ahead on the left, there is a small, undefined parking area next to the fence. Stop here and follow the path! The trail is steep and narrow, so watch your step. At the top of the mesa, you are about 100 feet above the valley floor, with excellent views in all directions. There are numerous ruins up top, with a couple of large kivas excavated, as well as some rooms. The Guadalupe Ruins are what is called a Chacoan Outlier Site, a part of the Chaco Canyon area some 65 miles away.

I hope you enjoy this trip. It’s not “wheeling” really, but the history of the area and the beauty both make it a great one for families. In the pictures for this article, I rode my Yamaha WR250F along with my friend, Mike on his Honda. Don’t let that deter you, though.

See you on the trail.

View Cabazon and Guadalupe Ruins in a larger map

For more info: NM Off Road | Chaco Canyon | Guadalupe Ruins | Cabazon