Extinct volcanoes, black lava fields, and mile after mile of desert grassland combine in the Potrillo Mountains Wilderness; New Mexico’s 4th largest wilderness. These mountains are formed by a series of volcanic cinder cones with small sand dunes, playas, and lava fields in-between. The vegetation consists of desert grasses and shrubs. Indian Basin, a natural depression at the southwest end of the West Potrillo Mountains, fills with water during the rainy season providing a temporary pond for ducks. Wintering raptors are found in high numbers due to a high small mammal prey base.
Evidence of pre-Columbian Indian habitation exists in caves in the Potrillo Mountains. A Classic Mimbres Pueblo located in the region has the highest concentration of bird bones of any known Mimbres site. Several undisturbed El Paso Phase structures have also been found in the Potrillo Mountains.
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 Potrillo Mountains 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. At just over 1 mile, you will reach a gate on private land; continue for another .5 miles to reenter public lands. For the next 3 miles, between the private land and the intersection with County Road 007, the wilderness is on the left of the road which forms the wilderness’ eastern boundary.
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.