Pena Blanca Wilderness Study Area

The stark Chihuahuan desert and mountains of the Pena Blanca Wilderness Study Area
View at Peña Blanca WSA

Peña Blanca Wilderness Study Areas is a 4,780-acre property containing the Peña Blanca rock shelters, site of the earliest known cultivation of corn in the United States. That prehistoric variety of maize was very primitive with only eight rows of kernels in an ear. Elevations on the property vary from about 4,600 feet to about 9,000 feet. Vegetation is a mix of desert grasses and shrubs in the lower elevations and juniper-piñon woodlands in the higher elevations. There are no maintained trails on the property: visitors would be well advised to bring lots of water, a good map, a compass, sun hat and sunscreen, good hiking shoes, perhaps a GPS device and good route finding skills.

To get there: Exit Interstate 10 about 11 miles south of Las Cruces at exit 151. Drive northeast from there on County Road B059 about 4.7 miles to the southwestern corner of the WSA. From there the road continues northeast and forms the southern boundary of the WSA for about 2.1 miles. The eastern boundary of the WSA abuts the Fort Bliss boundary: no public entry allowed. The dirt access road is generally drivable with 2WD and good clearance as long as the road is dry. If it's wet even 4WD might have trouble.

Peña Blanca Wilderness Study Area is wholly contained within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Map of the Pena Blanca Wilderness Study Area
Peña Blanca Wilderness Study Area
Photo and map courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management