Sierra County scavenger hunt directs people to points-of-interest

Riding to the high points in Sierra County rewards visitors with far-reaching views. Caballo Lake is in the distance. (Courtesy of Roger Pattison)

There is a scavenger hunt of sorts going on in Sierra County, and everybody is invited to participate to vie for a travel prize package.

As a matter of fact, the more the merrier, as far as local officials are concerned of the hunt that goes through Oct. 31.

“The whole idea is to get people to Sierra County to see all of the cool places to go and explore,” said Roger Pattison, a local entrepreneur and member of the Elephant Butte Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. “And hopefully come back multiple times between now and October.”

More than 100 sites are loaded into the free phone app Rever that guides participants to the sites and automatically tracks and records them as they pass the different spots, he said. It also keeps a running points tally so treasure hunters know where they stand in the grand standings, Pattison said.

About one-third of the way points are chamber members from Elephant Butte and nearby Truth or Consequences, Pattison admits, and many of those businesses are offering small goodies for participants who stop in. That, however, is not required to score the points, he said.

“If you drive around the paved streets in the towns, in an afternoon you can collect most of the local points and that gets people excited seeing the point totals add up,” he said.

Water runoff can be sudden and voluminous. Flood control dams are a vital part of the Sierra County landscape, keeping the cities safe. (Courtesy of Roger Pattison)

The remaining spots, however, will take a little more energy and effort to reach, Pattison said.

“The rest of the way points are out in the boonies,” he said. “Old mines, rock formations, historical things for people to find and visit. It gets people around.”

The county is a treasure trove interesting spots from the natural to the man-made, and many remain pretty much under the radar, Pattison said.

“We have several famous routes in the county,” he said. “The Camino Real and the Jornado del Muerto. Some are more localized routes like Paloma Gap and Apache Gap, and Timber Mountain or what we call the Towers. The Victorio mining series is another example of old claims where they’ve got tunnels in the side of the hill.”

Then there are some intriguing natural sites.

“We have some natural geological formations, like one place where an arch has been formed in a big arroyo,” he said. “The way the water eroded it, then went underground. That’s one place we take people. There are old stone buildings left over from the mining eras, as well.

Water runoff has a natural sculpting effect as it finds different soil densities. You may have to hike for a minute to see this interesting example. Take care, the soil is unstable. (Courtesy of Roger Pattison)

Sometimes, the site will simply be the intersection of two county roads. But what makes it special is getting there, Pattison said.

“Just stellar viewpoints, lookout places that you can see a lot of the county from,” he said. “In order to get to most of these points of interest, the ride is over some of these incredible routes so people can discover some really fun routes to ride that they’ll go back again and again and enjoy.”

Elephant Butte has been working hard at making itself the state’s center for off-road vehicle use and this is another step in that direction, Pattison said. Still, many of the sites also can be reached with standard, high-clearance four-by-four vehicles.

“But several are in much more rough terrain,” he said. “A really set-up rock-crawling Jeep could make every location, but a side by side is going to be the very best vehicle to get to all of the spots or an off-road motorcycle.”

Each of the way points carry different point totals as scavengers work toward the grand prize of a weekend vacation package in the area, complete with a hot soak in one of the local spas.

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