By Michele Robertson Numerous outdoor experiences await those who seek them, within 30 miles from Carlsbad. The Lincoln National Forest, Guadalupe Ranger District is located only an hour away. To get there, head north on highway 285 and make a left onto NM 137, or Queen highway. As you make your way along the open road, your eye can’t help but gaze at the landscape around you and marvel at the layers of limestone, sandstone, and other sedimentary deposits formed over a span of hundreds of millions of years. The Guadalupe Mountains are an exposed part of the Capitan barrier reef, its sedimentary layers rich with Permian Age fossils. Let your senses be your guide as you see the scenery change from desert to mountain landscape. Smell the pine trees, hear the lowing of the free range cattle, feel the gravel crunch under your boots as you step on the trail, ready for a taste of the adventure that lies before you. Panoramic views and stunning vistas can be found as you cruise along Forest Service Road 540. This easy access road will take you to Five-Points Vista. Along the way are several pull-offs where you can take in the layout of the land. Pack a picnic lunch with you and venture further up Forest Service Road 540 to a site where you can picnic for the day or head down the two-track road to set up camp. Be sure you have 4wd capabilities if you decide to travel off of Forest Service Road 540. Kelsey Smith, Recreation Technician for the Lincoln National Forest, Guadalupe Ranger District shares “Most roads in the district require 4wd vehicles. Really the only roads you can get away with not having a 4wd vehicle is Forest Service Road 540, a little bit of Forest Service Road 67, and Sitting Bull Falls Road. Every other road, you will need a 4wd vehicle, even some of those roads are still impassable.” A day trip is a perfect get-away for hiking and a picnic in the mountains. Many trails are available for you to recreate on. “The trails around Sitting Bull Falls see the most use by far. Between those trails, either T68 (Sitting Bull Falls Trail) or T226 (Last Chance Canyon trail) are the most popular. T68 takes you directly to the spring where the water originates for the waterfall. It is a moderately difficult, 3 mile out and back trail. T226 will have you meandering through the beautiful Last Chance Canyon. It is a 6 mile out and back trail, that starts off moderate and then becomes increasingly strenuous at about the halfway mark,” Kelsey said. There are many trails that aren’t used frequently for various reasons, they may be difficult to navigate, overgrown, or hard to get to. This fall and winter, the Lincoln National Forest is looking for volunteers to adopt-a-trail. These individuals will help get some of the lesser used trails in better condition so that people may enjoy them more. If anyone is interested in adopting a trail in the Guadalupe Ranger District, contact Kelsey Smith at email@example.com. “We
are looking for people interested in adopting trails that require 4wd. All of these trails are located in the south end of the district,” Kelsey adds. If you decide you want to do some camping, there are several options for you to explore. Some of the popular places to camp include: Right before the Last Chance Canyon Trailhead, Red Lake, which is at the turn off for Forest Road 527, and at the beginning of 540B on the Cougar Road side. “Dispersed camping is allowed anywhere except in the Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area. You may drive up to 300 ft. from a road to camp,” Kelsey said. “Always be prepared. Weather in the Guads can be extreme. Depending on the time of year you go camping there can be strong winds, intense flooding, and extreme heat. Make sure you look at the forecast and be prepared for any situation,” added Kelsey. There are several items you need to take with you on your mountain adventure. Aside from the basics such as an all-season tent, sleeping mat, chair, food, personal items, flashlights, good shoes, and the like. Water is a must, a gallon per person per day, plus more for cooking. Chason Smith, outdoor recreation enthusiast and founder of Campfire Industries adds a few items we wouldn’t normally think about to the list: “Fire starter is a must, as is extra water to put out the campfire before leaving the campsite. I use my axe and shovel often. Wool socks, binoculars, a Dutch oven for cooking is fun, a percolator for your morning camp coffee, and an app on your phone that will help you keep track of your location so you don’t get turned around and find yourself lost. ”Some activities, like caving, fuelwood collection, and cutting Christmas trees require permits. Be sure to check with the Lincoln National Forest to see if your activity will need a permit. You can contact them either online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/lincoln or by calling the Guadalupe Ranger District at 575-885-4181. The Lincoln National Forest also has a Facebook page where info is regularly posted to. The Lincoln National Forest requires that you pack out your trash. If you bring it in with you, you take it back out with you. Remember to #RecreateResponsibly. “These lands are there for all of us to explore and recreate on, however it’s up to us to protect it. Always follow Leave No Trace principles. As always, have fun, but be safe,” shared Kelsey.