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On Walkabout Across: Texas’ Hueco Mountains

On a recent weekend I decided to take a trip to climb Alamo Mountain which is a dormant mountain that rises above the desert grasslands of the Otero Mesa just north of the Texas state line in New Mexico.  Alamo Mountain lies in a very remote area about 75 miles east of El Paso, which is accessed only by sparsely driven dirt roads:

alamo mountain 1

The first dirt road to reach the mountain is the Hueco Ranch Road off of US Highway 180/62 that traverses the Hueco Mountains that lie to the east of El Paso.  These rolling sometimes rugged mountains is home to few people and the remains of prior settlements in the mountains can still be seen today:


I have no idea what this building once was, but it is definitely interesting to see while driving along the road.  The Hueco Mountains forms the western edge of what is known as the Otero Mesa.  This vast mesa is mostly flat with a few peaks from the Huecos rising from the west.  The biggest peak is the highest point in the Huecos called Cerro Alto Mountain:


Cerro Alto Mountain may be the highest point in the Huecos, but it is also one of the tallest mountains in all of Texas with an altitude of 6,787 feet:


This striking mountain is composed of Permian limestone that is estimated to be 250 million years old:


This is how this prominent peak looks on Google Earth:

alamo mountain 2

It may appear that this desolate area would have little wildlife, but with careful observation it is possible to see plenty of wildlife on the mesa such as this road runner:


This road runner quickly took off after I took this lone picture, but it was still quite cool to see.  As I drove by the mountain I could see the Hueco Ranch sitting at the base of the mountain.  There was plenty of “No Trespassing” and “Keep Out” signs posted around their large property, which indicated to me that hiking up this mountain was forbidden:


If anyone knows if it is possible to hike up this mountain please leave a comment and let me know.  Here is one last look at Cerro Alto Mountain from the Texas side of the border:


Notice how much larger Cerro Alto Mountain is compared to the rest of the smaller hills that make up the Hueco Mountains.  From here the Hueco Ranch Road crosses into New Mexico and becomes County Road F001 which traverses the vast Otero Mesa and my final destination of Alamo Mountain.

Next Posting: Crossing the Otero Mesa


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