Carlsbad Caverns National Park Highpoint Trip Report

two areas (6,520+ and 6,535 ft)*

*unnamed         6,520+ ft on NM Queen               quadrangle, Section 7/18-25S-23E
  spot elevation 6,535   ft on NM Gunsight Canyon quadrangle, Section   24-25S-22E

Date: April 13, 2004
Author: Andy Martin

Met John Vitz and Donna O'Shaughnessy at 1 PM at Klondyke Gap, on road in to Eddy county HP. They hiked to the Eddy County, NM highpoint in the morning.

From here we followed forest roads south, then east along in Dark canyon. The road was well graded, but a recent rain/snow had created boggy places at stream crossings. I managed to pilot the Honda to the east edge of section 17, a couple miles WSW of Taylor Tank. Here I abandoned ship, and rode with John's 4wd past Taylor Tank and on to Cottonwood Well. High clearance is useful. A more insane [if possible] passenger car driver might get down the limestone ledges and past Taylor Tank, though getting back up the ledges could be dicy.

Once at Cottonwood Well John and Donna opted to do the hike the next day, while I bushwhacked east up a limestone hill and then contoured over to the jeep trail, at the saddle west of spot elevation 6,632 ft. Dave Covill calls this jeep trail "very, very rough" and I concur. The weathered limestone would slice up tires pretty fast. I saw no evidence of recent traffic on this road.

I hiked up the 6,632 ft hill and built a small cairn, as this is supposed to be a 312+ (40) ft prominence summit. However, much to my surprise, when I sight-leveled spot elevation 6,535 ft to the south, it looked a bit higher, not 97 feet lower, as the USGS maps it. Either gravity is acting a bit strangely here, or the USGS has screwed up.

I hiked over to spot elevation 6,535 ft, and enroute passed a fence on the 6,632 ft hill, then a NPS boundary stake, and finally reached the section line with fence at mapped National Park HP. A big new spool of barbed wire was here, with Gerry Roach's register of 3-23-2004 in it. I relocated this metal cairn to NPS side of the fence (blood spilled in process), and wandered around the area a bit.

I sighted back to the 6,632 ft hill, which looked a bit lower. Alternate NP HP unnamed 6,520+ ft 7/18-25S-23E on the NM Queen quadrangle was clearly much lower, and I decided not to hike over there.

On the way back I took a slight detour by following drainage just SW of saddle 6,200+ (40) ft. This was more scenic, but did not save any time.

GPS-derived data using WGS 84 Etrex model with minor tree blockage -

NP HP 6,535 ft: (32° 7.372' N, 104° 40.637' W), elevation 6,527 ft
hill         6,632 ft: (32° 7.808' N, 104° 40.715' W), elevation 6,516 ft

These GPS elevations are perhaps good to +/- 30 ft.

Note from the webmaster: This report has been edited by David Olson; the original content remaining intact, albeit reworded in places.