Hidalgo County Highpoint Information *

* compiled by Scott Surgent

Animas Peak
Hidalgo County, New Mexico
Elevation: 8,565 feet

*** This Mountain is on private land! Access is not permitted! ***

General information: Animas Peak is located in southern Hidalgo County, in the far southwest "bootheel" corner of the state. It is about 12 air miles north of the Mexican border, amid high elevation desert and ranchland property.

From Interstate-10, exit 14 west of Lordsburg, state highway NM-338 leads south 24 miles to the town of Animas. Here, state maintenance ends, but a paved continuation road continues south about another 20 miles, finally giving away to gravel/dirt. This road, sometimes called Animas Valley Road, then continues south many more miles, finally petering out near the ghost town of Cloverdale near the Mexican border.

A junction a few miles after the end of the pavement offers a back way to the city of Douglas, Arizona, by way of the Coronado National Forest. Animas Peak is visible for the entire length of this road, as well as from I-10. It is about a 50-mile drive from I-10 to the point on the road closest to the peak.

The mountain is part of the Gray Ranch, which spreads over 500 square miles (322,000 acres). In 1990, the ranch was purchased by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), who in turn, sold it to the Animas Foundation in 1993. The Animas Foundation is a consortium of local ranchers and scientists who seek to preserve the 'traditional' ranching lifestyle of the west.

The Foundation is part of a larger group known as the Malpai Borderlands Group, which also has the same philospohy as the Animas Foundation. The Malpai Borderlands Group is itself a collection of like-minded ranchers and land-owners in southern New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona, with collective holdings nearing 3,000 square miles.

These websites offer some excellent background -

Access to this peak is highly restricted, and completely shut off to recreational use. Only those with legitimate scientific need for access stand a chance of receiving the okay from the ranch manager.

In the past, a few people have approached the manager for access onto the peak. While the manager has been kind and civil, he summarily denies all requests.

In my dealings with him, I gleaned that it is not entirely his decision to make. In short, his response to me was along the lines that if they allow access to one person or group, where do they draw the line for further requests?

As it stands now, the peak is in virtually pristine condition, supporting many plants and animals endemic to that range only. Most of the lands below the peak are used for grazing, and only then on a rotational basis, by area ranchers. As a result, the ranch manager and the Foundation have taken a rather strict position, but one they feel best suits their purposes.

Big Hatchet Mountain is merely 80 feet lower than Animas Peak and is on public land. For those wishing to conquer Hidalgo's highest, Big Hatchet may have to suffice as a consolation. However, it offers quite a lot of consolation, including significant prominence and outstanding views. For those who wish to attempt Animas Peak, you do so entirely of your own volition and with the understanding that any misfortune that befalls you is entirely your problem, not that of this group or of the webmaster.

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