Sierra del Cristo Rey (Mountain of Christ the King) is a 4, 675 foot tall mountain located near Sunland Park, New Mexico close to New Mexico's boundary with Texas and Mexico's state of Chihuahua. The mountain is best known for a 29 foot tall statue of Jesus, known as Christ of the Rockies, located on its summit.
The statue located on the summit was the idea of Reverend Lourdes Costa, a priest at a church in the Smeltertown neighborhood of nearby El Paso, Texas. The mountain was originally adorned with a 12 foot tall wooden cross in February of 1934, before the wooden cross was replaced with an iron one a few months later. Reverend Costa always had grander plans for the mountain though, and in 1938 Spanish sculptor Urbici Soler, who had worked on a similar project in creating the Christ of the Andes sculpture in South America, began sculpting the statue in limestone quarried in Austin, Texas. The statue was completed by late October of 1939
The mountain had previously been known as Cerro de Mulerros (Mule Drivers' Peak) and Cerro Rodadero (Shifting Peak) before its name was officially changed to Sierra del Cristo Rey in 1935. Geologically speaking, Sierra del Cristo Rey is considered a andesitic pluton. A pluton occurs where igneous rocks are cooled below the surface. Andesitic rocks contain fairly large amounts of silicon.
From El Paso, Texas: Take I-10 west into New Mexico
Trailhead: From the junction of I-10 and Sunland Park Drive, take Sunland Park Dr West down the hill 0.50 miles to Doniphan Dr. Turn left on Doniphan Dr, go 0.55 miles to Racetrack Dr. Turn right on Racetrack Dr, cross the Rio Grande, go 0.95 miles to NM-273. Turn left on NM-273, go 0.60 miles to the dirt road entrance. Watch for the large green sign. Follow the dirt road over the tracks to the parking area. The trailhead is the yellow gate.
From the Yellow Gate/Trailhead: Follow the old road/trail 2.2 miles to the summit. The hike involves 820 feet of vertical elevation gain. There are Stations of the Cross posted along the way so if you are feeling religious feel free to pray a few rosaries.
According to the official Sierra del Cristo Rey website, visitors are urged to contact the Restoration Committee or the Sunland Park Police Department prior to attempting to climb Mt. Cristo Rey. Due to the proximity of Mexico on the Southern edge of the mountain, visitors are cautioned not climb alone and always go in groups. Vandalism, assaults and robberies are an ongoing problem and visitors are encouraged to visit on days when organized events are being held and security is on site.
Restoration Committee Phone: 915-252-9840
Sunland Park Police Department: 575-589-2225
External LinksOfficial Mount Cristo Rey website