Down in southwestern New Mexico just above the bootheel proper and just a hair away from the Arizona border lies an interesting area and a very cool desert peak. Located in the transitional area between Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, Granite Peak and the surrounding ridges rise substantially above the Gila River basin. Granite Peak rises to an elevation of 5754 feet and the top of the peak is adorned with the Cienega benchmark. While this sub 6000 ft mountain likely won't attract many future visitors based on height alone, the imposing presence of the peak and the modest prominence of 1024 feet will likely make this peak attractive to a few climbers and hikers looking for isoloation. The area sees very little traffic and upon our arrival at the summit in Jan 2008, we found the most recent entries in the summit register to be from 2002.
Granite Peak at Sunrise
The brush on Granite Peak can quite extreme, but with careful route selection most of the prickly spines can be avoided. We often chose steeper sections of rock in order to avoid the densest sections of cactus.
Typical terrain on the upper mountain
Granite Peak is located in the far southwest section of New Mexico. Hikers and climbers can reach the area by exiting I-10 at exit 5 (Road Forks) and heading south on NM 80 towards the small town of Rodeo. After about 10 miles you'll reach C078. Open the gate (close it after passing through) on the west side of NM 80 and make your way NW along a fairly rough dirt road. I parked my Camry by the corrals just off of NM 80. After passing Preacher Mountain to the west take the left fork that heads SW around the north and then west side of Preacher Mountain. This rough overgrown track will eventually take your into the gap between Granite Peak and Point 5728. Granite Peak will be in view for most of your drive / walk.
Park your vehicle at some point along this road and follow the road to the gap between the aforementioned peaks. Granite is the hulking mass to your west!
Bootheel views at sunrise
Just a couple miles away from Granite Peak lies the old ghost town of Granite Gap. The town was once home to over 2000 miners and their families. After the local silver and lead mines began to dry up the town quickly turned into a collection of empty buildings and dusty streets. Recently the surrounding ~60 acres was purchased by an unlikely couple that occasionally go by the names of Klondike Mike and Jackass Jill. With the appropriate appointment folks can explore the mines, treasure hunt and collect minerals. More information can be found at the following links:Granite Gap Ghost Mining Camp
Gold Bar Bandits
The following text was originally written by Carla DeMarco:
Treasure hunters come to search for the Lost Gold Bars of Granite Gap. According to legend, in the early 1800s eight outlaws robbed the Benson-Tombstone stagecoach in Arizona, stealing eight bars of gold. Each man took a bar, and a despicable pair named Dutch John and Little Dave hid out at Granite Gap. While Dutch John slept, Little Dave decapitated him with an axe, then buried both bars beneath the trail near town. Later, after moving to Oklahoma, Little Dave returned to recover the bars, but the road had washed out and everything looked different. Consequently, somewhere in Granite Gap there may still be two gold bars valued at about $20,000.
An anecdotal account of the lost gold bars can be found here
All typical BLM restrictions apply in this area.
Rest for the Weary