Hiking tips

Las Cruces provides tips for safe outdoor adventures

City of Las Cruces Public Safety Press Release

Warmer temperatures and longer days call for more outdoor adventures and especially in the mountains surrounding Las Cruces, a town that sees more than 320 days of sunshine every year.

Hikers, cyclists, campers and 4×4 enthusiasts should take the necessary precautions to avoid accidents – or worse – when exploring the great outdoors. What seems like the start of a great adventure can turn downright dreadful with temperature swings of over 40 degrees, an unforeseen change in weather or an unexpected change of plans.

On May 16, 2021, 24 hikers had to be rescued after the group got separated, disoriented and stranded while hiking in the Orgue Mountains. Some of the hikers suffered relatively minor injuries – mostly scrapes and bruises – and some complained of dehydration. A hiker was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The City of Las Cruces suggests all outdoor adventurers follow these and other safety tips:

  • Know your abilities and the terrain you will be on.
  • Plan your hike carefully and consider weather reports, expected duration, and other conditions you may encounter during your adventure.
  • Never hike, bike, backpack or adventure alone.
  • Keep groups together unless it is necessary for survival to separate.
  • Follow all signs and avoid straying from established trails.
  • Carry a fully charged cell or satellite phone in case of emergency. Avoid draining a cell phone’s battery by overusing the camera function.
  • Carry a power bank and the appropriate cord to recharge a depleted cell phone battery.
  • Carry a flashlight and extra batteries even if your hike is during the day.
  • Avoid pushing daylight to see a beautiful sunset or full moon. Once the sun has set, it is difficult to orient yourself on unfamiliar paths.
  • Take plenty of drinking water and food to sustain you during the trek.
  • Keep in mind that hot daytime temperatures and relatively high altitudes consume energy quickly.
  • Wear or pack appropriate attire for the trek. It’s best to dress in layers that can be easily removed – or added – depending on the conditions.
  • Wear an appropriate hat or headgear.
  • Wear comfortable hiking boots or shoes suitable for the terrain to be covered.
  • Be aware of changing weather conditions and the potential for flash flooding from rains that occur upstream of your location.
  • Be extremely careful when lighting or using a fire.
  • Beware of snakes which are more active in hot weather and as daytime temperatures rise. Snakebite victims should seek help immediately.
  • Beware of wildlife known to frequent the Organ Mountains and other nearby areas: bobcats, cougars, coyotes, foxes, deer and African oryx. Never approach or attempt to handle a wild animal.
  • If you’re hiking with a dog, consider their needs and the safety requirements for hiking.
  • Avoid letting your dog run off-leash as it could give chase to wild animals and could easily get lost or injured.
  • Do not exceed the limits of your vehicle (or your driving skills).
  • Make sure your vehicles, tires and spare tire are in good condition for the terrain.
  • Keep an eye on your fuel gauge to make sure you don’t run out of gas.
  • Stay on paved roads or dedicated tracks.
  • Obey signage and avoid driving on private property or designated wilderness areas.
  • Do not attempt to cross dangerous streams.
  • Wear seat belts or harnesses correctly at all times when the vehicle is in motion.
  • If you get stuck, it is recommended that you try calling for help first. Abandoning a vehicle and walking to get help can be more dangerous than staying put and waiting for help to arrive.
  • Tell a friend or relative where you are going and when you expect to return. If you haven’t returned at the specified time, they need to know how to contact the authorities.
  • Dispose of trash properly and use the motto “Pack it – Pack it” to help keep wilderness areas intact.