Rabbit Ears Plateau (left) after a fresh blanket of snow (Jan 2010).
The Organ Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the city of Las Cruces. Their jagged profile keeps many of the city folk in awe of the rocky prominence that lies just to the east of their homes. This jagged appearance keeps many would be hikers away from the mountains thinking that they are way too rugged for hiking. While the Organs do offer outstanding rock climbing and many sheer vertical faces, they also offer some outstanding rock scrambles that lead to airy perches and jaw dropping views. One of the best hikes / scrambles in the Organs is an ascent of Rabbit Ears Plateau. The scrambling should never get above third class and the route is fairly straight forward.
Rabbit Ears Plateau is a broad peak with a rocky summit area. It is bounded on the south by a great vertical wall that drops directly into Big Windy Canyon. On the southwest face of the peak climbers will find a number of long sharp "ribs" that make up the rib cage and offer many challenging rock routes.
The Topp Hut with the Rabbit Ears Plateau in the background
The traditional route up Rabbit Ears Plateau visits an old mining hut (Topp Hut) and an area rife with open mine shafts and rusting mining equipment. It then heads into a canyon that often has running water and occasionally a spectacular wildflower display.
Open Shaft Remnants of an old mining operation
The view of the Plateau from the summit of the South Rabbit Ear just to the east
The primary trailhead for ascending the Rabbit Ears Plateau is off of Baylor Canyon Road just east of Las Cruces, NM. To access this area take US 70 east out of town towards Alamogordo. Take the NASA Rd / Baylor Canyon exit that is the last highway exit before reaching San Augustin Pass. Head 3.9 miles south from the exit on US70. At this point you'll pass a cattle guard and see a primitive dirt road that heads toward the mountains. Pull off here, and decide how long you would like to punish your vehicle as you drive east towards the mountains. IMHO, it's best to park passenger cars and other lower clearance vehicles right off of Baylor Canyon Rd where there is some parking room.
The Rabbit Ears Plateau obscures the namesake Rabbit Ears when observed from the Las Cruces valley. However from the east side of the Organs (i.e. Aguirre Springs BLM recreation area) the true ruggedness of the Rabbit Ears themselves can be seen. The approach to the plateau is also the approach used to scale each of the three Rabbit Ears. The three Rabbit ears all have multiple technical routes on them and their easiest routes are as follows: South Rabbit Ear: 4th class NW Face, Middle Rabbit Ear: Normal (South Corner) low 5th class, North Rabbit Ear: Davis Route 5.3. While many of the Ears can be ascended via relatively easy routes, these routes are truly adventure climbing in the traditional sense!
The three Rabbit Ears
External LinksA Climbing Guide to the Organ Mountains
There are no camping, parking, or hiking fees for this route.