Cookes Peak is an unforgettable landmark peak, located north of Deming in Luna County, southwest New Mexico. Visible from miles along Interstate-10, the peak is notable for its spire summit, which looks dauntingly challenging from below. However, a day-hike of the peak is very attainable for hikers in good shape - no technical skill is necessary other than a willingness to scamper up slightly exposed slopes. At worst the climb entails some moderate class-3 moves near the top, and some bushbashing down below, but the rewards are worth it. Views out over the vast desert landscape to the south and the mountains to the north are well worth the effort.
The famous City of Rocks State Park is nearby, on the highway between Deming and Silver City.
Cookes Peak (by WildmanDallas)
In Deming, exit the interstate at US-180 (the sign will mention Silver City) and proceed north for about a mile, then turn east onto NM-26. Travel generally northeast on NM-26 about 13.5 miles to Cookes Canyon Road on the left, with a lonely ranch house at the corner. Take this road north. It's good quality hard-pack for the first 6 miles or so and a little sandy for the next 4 miles where it comes to a locked gate** (see below for access changes)
Those with a 4wd vehicle and the land-owner's permission to get past the gate can proceed about another 2.5 miles along the road to a junction with a 4wd track shown on the map (see the locator map on the "Northeast" route page. This junction is marked by "1" on the map).
** The following is an update on the road by wbass, from late 2006: In a recent trip back to Cookes to hike the ridge north of the peak (Fall 2006), apparently the BLM has gone ahead with old plans to bypass the corral with a new and improved road. We parked where the improvements ended. I did not call the BLM to inquire of further plans to grade the road, but it seemed as though more work was in store for that area. No idea why - in my numerous trips, I've hardly seen another soul.
** Update, Nov 2007 (Thanks to Charlie Winger, "wingman", for providing the updated information): The BLM road connects with the original access road as of my visit on November 6, 2007. It is no longer required to obtain Mr. Hyatt's permission to access the peak as the "new" portion of the road bypasses his property. The road which you follow from NM-26 is signed A109 and has a green street sign reading "Cookes Canyon Rd NE".
Approach Road (by wbass)
The gate at about mile 10, and some of the lands on the approach, are part of the Hyatt Ranch, which encircles the peak. Permission can be gained from Mr. Leedrue Hyatt at the Hyatt Ranch HQ, which is at about mile 6 on the dirt road (a sign points left). You'll only be on their land for a very short time. As far as I know, the peak and most of its flanks are on public land.
Absolutely positively honor Mr Hyatt's wishes. He has been very kind over the years to allow access across his land. Please do not do anything stupid like leave the gate open or damage some fencing. Most ranchers in the SW don't allow public access onto their lands; the Hyatts are a rare exception.
When To Climb
The mountain is climbable all year. Snow falls but shouldn't linger too long. The route should be no problem after a dry spell of a couple weeks. Summer thunderstorms could be dangerous. The very best times seem to be April-June and Sept-Nov, when the weather is warm and dry and the storms aren't kicking up. If you go during the monsoon get an early start. The spire summit would seem to be a very attractive lightning target.
Deming has many hotels in the $30 range- cheap, basic but decent. There is camping at nearby state parks in and around Deming. Bush-camping might be slightly tricky - it's open desert so you'll be exposed for the most part, and the land is a checkerboard of public and private land, and not always obvious which is which. Use good judgement.
Another fine photo by wildmandallas
Visit also www.cohp.org
Further useful information can be found at the county highpointers website:
Luna County, New Mexico