Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Extreme Trails the big attraction of the annual Chile Challenge of the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club

For most intrepid four-wheelers, travel is the thing. Especially when it comes to climbing over huge boulders, climbing vertical walls, and doing other acrobatics that most riders would consider impossible.

The Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Chile Challenge in Caballo Lake State Park south of Elephant Butte from October 12th to 16th. A series of trails carved from the slopes of the Caballo Mountains offer a range of challenging tests for riders and their families.

While most off-the-shelf 4X4 ​​vehicles can survive most moderate and easy trails, sometimes it takes a little experience and the help of friends to get there. (Courtesy of the Las Cruces 4X4 Club)

“We have scenic trails and then they get a little more difficult as they climb,” said Duke Knight, club president. “The scenic ones are the simpler ones. Then you get to the next level, which is moderate, the next level is hard and the next level is extreme. “

In the latter two areas you often see winches dragging vehicles over areas that could hardly be called trails.

“When you get into the tough trails and the extreme trails, you see some of these crazy rigs there with the super big tires and really high. They are the main purpose and the attraction for the drivers is the path as opposed to the landscape. I usually tell people these are the guys who see how far they can go before something breaks. “

Knight said he anticipates around 150 vehicles and their drivers, a draw from across the country and more.

Sometimes the trails require special equipment and stamina to get through. (Courtesy of the Las Cruces 4X4 Club)

“It’s an international event,” he said. “I’ve met people from Mexico and Canada. New York and Washington and everywhere in between. “

For many years the event took place in the hinterland of the Bureau of Land Management around Las Cruces.

But seven years ago the BLM asked the group to move north to their current location as it is away from the Las Cruces population center.

“Because it’s most of the week, a lot of people take vacations and be with their families and turn it into a vacation,” Knight said. Although there are really no spectators because it’s way out in the sticks, but a lot of people hang around the campsite, visit and have a nice camping trip and in the evenings there are things under the pavilion like piñatas for the kids and movies from different trails. “

When it comes to the trails, Knight said he was the type of guy who likes the scenic route, especially the Palomas Gap.

A level 3 path that starts low and then gradually climbs up an old mountain road built by Chinese workers in the 19th century. This road was used to carry water from the river to the new railroad. It hugs the side of a canyon and is narrow in places.

“It’s really something to see,” he said. “There are petroglyphs out there and I’ve seen bighorn sheep and deer. You get so high in the caballos and then you stop at the top. It’s just beautiful. It’s a fantastic view from above. ”The customer review has been automatically translated from German.

Regular, stock all-wheel drive vehicles with drivers who have some off-road driving experience can hit most easy and moderate trails without too much difficulty, though three to six inches in height and larger tires make it easier to ride, called Knight.

The tough and extreme trails are for riders with significant backroad experience who use modified rigs specifically designed for punishment.

“You can tell some of these things started out as a jeep,” he said. “And some of you can’t tell what you used to be.”

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