The staff here at 4WD&SU has visited the Chile Challenge in New Mexico since the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club (LCFWDC) started the event many years ago. We always enjoy ourselves immensely at this event because of the extreme Southwestern wheeling action. Always on hand are a staggering number of Jeeps built in every manner and fashion. Each year they come built to the hilt, so it's a great way to check out what works and what doesn't.
The climate around Las Cruces is usually mildly warm in February, and we suspect that some of the participants are escaping the frozen grasp of winter from other parts of the country and stretching their legs and control arms on the New Mexico soil. This year's Chile Challenge drew 398 vehicles and more than double that in participants and spectators. That's a lot of vehicles and people. This trail event has few rivals.
The canyons, hills, and washes around Las Cruces were seemingly created for Jeep adventure. Every type of terrain can be found there, so there's a little something for everyone of every skill level. From top professional four-wheelers and manufacturers to mild-mannered adventurers, they all keep coming back for more.
The Las Cruces area is also rich in Old West history. The old Western town of Mesilla is just a few miles down the road from the trailheads. This quaint little town was founded around 1848. Quite a few of its original structures are still intact and open for business. In fact, the building that once stood as the state capital for New Mexico and Arizona can be found in the town square. It is here that Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to hang. In the old town square, you'll also find a couple of authentic Southwestern restaurants that make the drive worth it for the food alone.
Like many other clubs, the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club teaches and practices responsible four-wheeling and continues to fight for our rights to use public lands for recreation. Currently, the club is working with the BlueRibbon Coalition to help keep the trails in this area open. The trendy anti-access crowds have moved in and are wreaking havoc on the future of recreation in the canyons around Las Cruces. They are at it again, swaying political opinion by the spread of misinformation and trumped-up environmental concerns. If you'd like to help in the fight to preserve public access to lands such as these, please contact the club or the BlueRibbon Coalition. For more information on the possible closure of Las Cruces trails, visit the LCFWDC's website under the Land Use Issues heading and read the article, "Proposed Trackway Monument Threatens Chile Challenge."