From Farmington in the north to Las Cruces in the south, New Mexico is famous for some of the best rockcrawling trails in the nation. The middle of state is not exempt from the fun either, as we discovered on a trail ride near Truth or Consequences (yes, that is really the name of the town) organized by Curtis Hill of DGI Off Road. Curtis has been working with the local BLM office to establish trails in seasonal washes and canyons in the Green Canyon area. In fact, last year the famous Chile Challenge moved from Las Cruces to T or C, largely as a result of Hill’s efforts. Instead of being held in February, the Chile Challenge changed to October as well, as to not compete for time against King of the Hammers.
Before the Chile Challenge came to town though, our group of Jeeps ran Green Canyon, which offered enough lines to challenge everyone from full-bodied TJs on 35s to rock monsters with 47-inch-tall tires and rear steer. From the Green Canyon, the big boys peeled off from the rest of the group to hit The Bone. Soon, they were peeling tires off of wheels and leaf springs from their mounts. If our trip was any indication, Truth or Consequences will be as popular with hardcore wheelers as Farmington and Las Cruces in the near future.
It seems like we can’t go anywhere in New Mexico without running into Jeffrey Jacobsen and his bright orange Scrambler. He recently added sticky compound 43-inch Super Swamper TSL SXs to test the limits of his 1-ton running gear.
Curtis Hill was our trail leader for the day. He grew up in this region of New Mexico and has been exploring the abandoned mines and cattle ranches of the area since his childhood.
The trails in Green Canyon are very similar to nearby Las Cruces, with sandy washes terminated with ledges varying from mild to wild. Those who have attended the Chile Challenge in the past will not be disappointed by the new venue.
Once the canyon gets narrow, those driving vehicles with an abundance of sheetmetal start to get nervous. The group all managed to get past this point with only minimal scraping though. Low gearing allowed Jeff Boggs to creep past the canyon wall in his Rubicon LJ.
Green Canyon offers technical rockcrawling at its best. Here, Jack Dickey spots a Rubicon LJ to keep the 35-inch BFGoodrich KM2s in contact with the ground and the sheetmetal straight.
Josh Simmons works for NASA, so it isn’t surprising to learn that he designed a wheeling rig that resembles a Mars rover. The 47-inch Super Swamper LTBs and Rockwell axles aren’t the most nimble, but with front and rear steering, Josh fits them just about anywhere.
Leaf springs are simpler than coilovers and links, but they can still fail. Jeffrey Jacobsen broke a main leaf but was able to use a combination of ratchet straps, duct tape, and his winch to locate the front axle well enough to limp off the trail.
After turning off of the main canyon into The Bone, the terrain gets nasty in a hurry. Those are 43-inch tall tires and they look puny compared to the size of the rocks. These trails are all fresh so they have not been stacked and altered after being run hundreds of times.
Only three Jeeps wheeled through The Bone, and even though it is less than a mile long, the trail still took several hours. Once you are in the canyon, there is no turning around, as the only way out is through the top of the trail.
Curtis Hill is a member of the Las Cruces 4WD Club that hosts the Chile Challenge every year and acted as trail leader during the event. He is from this area and it shows. Hill has shrunk the sheetmetal and grown the tires on his CJ-7 to tackle the rocky canyons around his home of Truth or Consequences.
Curtis Hill peeled a tire off the rim in an undercut ledge on the trail. He had to be winched sideways and then jacked up with a Hi-Lift before the tire could be reseated with a blast of compressed air.
Josh Simmons runs a V-8 and 21⁄2-ton Rockwell axles under his YJ. He built most of the rig himself, including the coil suspension, so he doesn’t have a lot of money tied up in his rig. His wife even did a lot of the welding!
We often think of New Mexico as being an empty desert, but there is actually an abundance of vegetation on the canyon walls. Juniper trees, yucca, and cactus are all common in the area. They make lousy winch anchors though, so bring a friend or a Pull Pal.