The Mount Riley Wilderness contains three shield volcanos which rise prominently in the landscape. Mount Riley is the highest point in the region, rising abruptly over 1,700 feet above the surrounding desert plain to an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet.
Chihuahuan Desert grassland and yucca, in association with a mosaic of other desert shrubs such as creosote, acacia, and mesquite, make up the majority of the plant cover in the area. Isolated clumps of netleaf hackberry and other desert trees are found in the lava flow where depressions or deeper pockets of soil hold extra water after rainfall. Occasional juniper trees are also found on mountain slopes and in larger drainages.
Raptors are common, especially during the winter. Golden eagles, great-horned owls, and Swainson’s hawks nest here, and peregrine falcons have also been reported. Other species that forage and live in the area include pronghorn, mule deer, quail, jackrabbits, and occasional migrating ducks on ephemeral ponds.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Mount Riley Wilderness.
From I-10, about 8 miles south of Anthony, NM (at the TX state line), take exit #8 to TX 178/Artcraft Rd. After exiting, take the second right onto TX 178/Artcraft Rd and drive about 9 miles to NM 9/Columbus Rd (Note: TX-178 becomes NM-136 at the state line). Turn right and drive west about 24 miles on NM Hwy 9 to County Road 005. Turn right and drive north approximately 4.5 miles to County Road 007. Turn Right on County Road 007. This road forms the boundary (which is on the left) for approximately 6 miles.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.