Cuates (Mars) Canyon and Rim Route
ElevationAscent: 1,497' 456 m
Descent: -14' -4 m
High: 6,611' 2,015 m
Low: 5,128' 1,563 m
GradeAvg Grade: 15% (8°)
Max Grade: 53% (28°)
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“A steep, technical hike up a narrow canyon ending in an exposed ridge hike.”— Tristan Smith
This hike includes sections of unmarked or off-trail travel. Please ensure you are equipped and well prepared before venturing beyond official and mapped terrain. These areas may or may not be regularly patrolled and access to help may be limited.
Use of drones for any purpose is prohibited due to the proximity of the White Sands Missile Range.
The route is a non-maintained, social path that is marked with cairns along the way, so be mindful of a few poorly marked turns and forks. Between mile 1.0 and mile 1.2, there are two (typically "dry") waterfalls, each 10-15ft in height, that require some climbing and scrambling skills to navigate; there are plenty of holds and cracks so climbing equipment is not necessary.
The canyon tops out in a col around mile 1.28 with an excellent view of Soledad Canyon and Chimney Rock. The route then continues to the right and wraps around and up the backside of a prominence that overlooks the canyon; this section of the route is composed primarily of loose sand and scree, so proper foot and pole placement are very important.
From here, continue south towards Achenback Canyon following the open ridgeline, as there does not seem to be a worn or marked trail. At approximately the 2.0 mile mark, there is a large rock formation that is not easily navigated over, however, the north slope of the ridge provided stable enough footing to hike around. From this formation, continue back along the ridgeline until you summit the ridge's high point after a brief scramble.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible
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Land Manager: BLM New Mexico - Las Cruces District Office