Exploring the Burro Mountains near Silver City, NM
There's gold in them there hills!!!!
Our expeditions started off of Hwy 90 south of Silver City in an area generally know as White Signal. This is a small ranching community and there is a ton of really neat history here. I am told there is an old community hall that was built by members of the community to host dances and get-togethers. It was initially constructed just for the people in the area to have something to do but it became such a hit, cowboys were known to ride for days just to go to there for an event. It was a viral hit before hits were viral.
Anyways... a portion of the Gila National Forest is located in this area and it is beautiful. The variety of terrain and topography is breathtaking. Our travels started at about 5800 feet in the scrub oaks and buffalo grass, then we ascended Jacks Peak which my Garmin told me was about 8200 feet, then we dropped back down the mountain and into the ponderosa forests of the north side of the Burros. It was quite the adventure, but it was totally worth it.
Not far from Gold Gulch Road where we started, we found a trail shooting off of Gold Gulch Road and ventured down the beaten path on our trail model Polaris RZR. Interesting side note here... the Gila National Forest recently adopted a travel management plan that shut down many of the roads and reclassified them as trails open to motorized travel for OHV's less than 50" wide. My family and I purchased a 50" RZR to go exploring in and it has been a blast.
We drove up the trail, through a dry wash and came upon a gate. After passing through the gate we saw a coyote run across a meadow. I wanted a picture so I tried to call the yote back in with a rabbit call but that didn't work out so well. My 4yo daughter had been playing with the call and the reed was stuck, so when I blew in it, I think the dog was as spooked as I was. It was actually hilarious.
After that little incident, we spied some mine tailings on the side of a mountain and I noticed there was a road leading right up them, it happened to be a forest road too so we drove right up to the base of the hill. First we saw some old concrete footings that were terraced on a hillside and my guess would be that they were used for some sort of extraction process. Meandering up the hill, we discovered this old mine cave:
I want to call it a shaft, but it was really more like a cave. It didn't go too far back but it looked like it may have gone up, I couldn't really get a good vantage to see. The inside walls of the cave were all covered with a blue-green mineral, my guess would by chrysocolla.
There were some pretty awesome views here too... or at least I thought so at the moment, but more on that later.
We made our way back to Gold Gulch Road and found another road that forked off, Jacks Peak Road. We drove down Jacks Peak road about a mile and came across an old pasture and windmill, it was a really pretty area. After dropping into a canyon and crossing a sandy wash, we started an ascent that seemed like forever. We gained about 2000 feet of elevation over the next couple of miles and it wasn't long before we found ourselves in the ponderosa forests. Here we saw a bunch of neat old ruins, mostly rock structures. One this that caught my attention was this:
It was an old well that someone had covered it up with a roof that had disintegrated long ago. Pretty scary actually.
After a couple more miles, we were on what seemed like the top of the world. We passed a small spring holding water and later met up with the Continental Divide Trail and found an old settlement of some sort.
Just a ways from the ruins with the chimney, is the summit of Jacks Peak where we found this radio array. It seemed pretty crazy that anyone could literally walk right up to it. I know it is on public land, but it seems like whoever owns all the equipment would put up a fence to protect their investment.
It was here where I realized the views were really awesome. The GPS indicated we were about 8200 feet up. I managed to take some panoramic pictures with my cell phone but they are in a .vr format. They look great on my phone, but I'm not sure how to post them here. In the meantime, this is what I have:
The Tyrone Mine can be seen to the left hand side of the picture. It looks soooo small from up there.
Here is another view looking East, Cookes Peak can be seen in the distance:
And here is a cool picture looking South. In the immediate vicinity, the foothills of the Burro Mountains can be seen, but beyond the the desert floor below, you can see the Pyramid Mountains South of Lordsburg.
To me, one of the best things about living in New Mexico is the variety and depth of our state. I love that there are places I can go, not see another human being, and look out into a natural abyss like this. This is what a 100 mile view looks like, it really is breathtaking. It is also amazing that in a matter of a 10 mile journey, I can start on the desert floor and end up on top of an 8200 foot peak.
After checking out Jacks Peak, we rode through Gold Gulch, and hopped on Tyrone Thompson Road and it wasn't long before we found another old mining operation:
There was an old road leading up to it and a forest gate we hopped through. When we got closer, I was quite impressed. I don't know the exact age of it, I'd guess it was probably in use around the 1950's or so. There was a lot going on here. Just over the hill, there was remnants of a dozen or so old footings, some water piping, and an old outhouse and hitching post. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of that, but I did snap some pictures of this:
At first I just thought it was an old shed, but there was a trap door and it was a long ways down. It is crazy to think that someone used to climb up and down that ladder.
I dropped a small stone down the shaft and it probably fell for 2-3 seconds before I heard it hit anything. The tower like thing had a big sled on it so I am guessing they used to haul ore out of this hole, load it up on the sled, and let is slide down the mountain to this area for processing:
I am just fascinated by the industrious nature of the people who built these enterprises. By today's standards, this is small peanuts, but at the time, this was a big time operation. I am sure that the labor and work necessary to keep an operation like this running would cause most modern people to walk off the jobsite.
All in all, it was just an ordinary Saturday in Southwestern New Mexico for us. Life here is definitely good, the weather is great and the air is fresh. If you haven't had a chance to visit our area yet, stop procrastinating and just do it. If you are already here, take advantage of what our area has to offer. When you decide this is where you want to be, feel free to reach out, our associates in Las Cruces and Silver City are here to help.