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Dona Ana Mountains

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Bear Boulders 
Checkerboard Wall 
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Dona Ana Mountains  

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Location: 32.45, -106.79 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 48,226
Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Feb 26, 2006

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The Checkerboard in all it's splendor.


The Dona Ana mountains offer ample climbing for any climber passing through Las Cruces. Although not as eye-catching as their magnificent neighbors , the Organs, they have been a favorite climbing area among locals for many years. From bouldering to long traditional routes, the climbing here is varied and spread out over a large area owned by the BLM and NMSU. The rock tends to be granitic, and similar to that found in the Organs. While the Dona Ana Mts lack the grandeur of the Organs, they have relatively short approaches and even some "drive-up" climbing, which gives them an advantage over most of the climbing in the Organs.

The main attraction is the Checkerboard wall, a beautiful 500ft cliff offering several moderate-easy lines. Other popular spots are the Bear Boulders and Pizza Boulders, which offer drive-up climbing in a secluded desert surrounding. NMSU recently acquired much of the land in the Dona Ana range and has closed some areas to climbing, including the Columns and the North boulder Field. Please respect these clusures and we may have a chance to negotiate access.

The Dona Ana Mts are bounded by the Jornada Experimental Range on the north/east, and Las Cruces on the south/west. It is harsh desert environment and should be treated as such (birng plenty of water and minimize your impact). Camping is permitted on BLM land, and there is a great network of biking trails.

Getting There 

The main access point is Jornada rd. To reach this rd take Hwy 70 east from las Cruces. Exit at Mesa Grande Rd and follow signs for the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park. This will take you to Bantaam Memorial Drive heading west for a few blocks. Turn right onto Jornada rd at a Shortys gas station. Jornada rd becomes a wide gravel rd within a few miles and will drive you by the east side of the mountain range. Several dirt rds lead to the various climbing areas.


Rosul-Dunning Guide. This PDF guide has a good topo for the Checkerboard wall, as well as a map to the different climbing areas in the Dona Anas. Contact me (Aaron Hobson) if you would like a copy.

There is a guide to the some boulder problems that can be found at the NMSU climbing wall.

Climbing Season

Weather station 9.3 miles from here

31 Total Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',2],['2 Stars',16],['1 Star',11],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Dona Ana Mountains:
Cross-trainer   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Sport, 4 pitches, 600'   Checkerboard Wall
Pawn's Promotion   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 4 pitches, 500'   Checkerboard Wall
Lone Piton   5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c     Trad, 3 pitches, 400'   Checkerboard Wall
Punch In The Nose   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 4 pitches, 350'   Checkerboard Wall
Knight's Move   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 350'   Checkerboard Wall
King Me   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Sport, 4 pitches, 500'   Checkerboard Wall
Checkmate   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 150'   Checkerboard Wall
Browse More Classics in Dona Ana Mountains

Featured Route For Dona Ana Mountains
In the chimney

King Me 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c  NM : Las Cruces Area Climbing : ... : Checkerboard Wall
P1: Slab climb up (5.6) past one bolt and pull up onto a big ledge. Make an anchor here (depending on how you want to start your second pitch make an anchor at the base of the chimney or to the left).P2: There are two options either go right and climb the bolted chimney (5.8+, refer to the chimney pictures) or for an easy variation go left and pull up onto the slab column from its left side (5.6), but I highly recommend doing the chimney. At the top of the chimney it helps to do a 180 and use th...[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of Dona Ana Mountains Slideshow Add Photo
Another of the Checkerboard on the right.
Another of the Checkerboard on the right.
Dona Ana Mountains
Dona Ana Mountains

Comments on Dona Ana Mountains Add Comment
Show which comments
By Lowell
From: El Paso, Texas USA
Oct 11, 2009
Here's 2 free guidebook downloads by Charles Cundiff.
Guidebook Download Link CLICK HERE
By Aaron Hobson
From: Clinton, TN
May 6, 2012
Pizzas should still be fine for access, although I think CDNP put up a gate making it harder to easily access them.
By Eugene Staley
From: Las Cruces, New Mexico
Sep 13, 2012
The guide book is now only available through purchase online. I'm not sure if that is intentional or not but it is relevant information to anyone who is trying to get the guidebook to the pizzas.
By Ian Harris
From: Las Cruces NM
Feb 24, 2013
Are these The Columns in the Dona Ana's?
Are these The Columns in the Dona Ana's?

Are these The Columns?
By codrew
From: Wheat Ridge, CO
Mar 27, 2013
The access road described in all of the guidebooks I found is now locked, this is the dirt road off Jornada that is just before the stone pillars - East West Road. Instead take the dirt road on the left at 3.1 miles past the school on Jornada, this will take you straight out to the checkerboard wall.
By Robert Cort
Apr 1, 2013
r.e. abqdrew: I think the access through the gate that you found locked is either for a) access to pizza boulders, b) the walk over to the top of the checkerboard (backside access), c), access to the columns, or d) all of the above. That gate has been locked for some time now. There are ways to get to those locations, but for access to checkerboard, your 3.1mi road or Bill L.'s photo is your best bet.
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