Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area
Guide

Introduction

Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area, in New Mexico, under the Bureau of Land Management consists of two study areas, namely, Ignacio Chavez Wilderness Study Area and the Chamisa Wilderness Study Area. The vast wilderness region has an elevation of up to 8,300 feet and mostly consists of rugged and rocky desert terrain.

Both wilderness areas near Navajo City, NM, are remote with no facilities and amenities to make your trip any more comfortable. However, this primitive style of camping and enjoying nature comes with its own freedom and plenty of adventures.

The topography of the Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area consists of high and rugged cliffs with steep canyons, numerous mesas, and uneven ground−a dream landscape for hikers who crave challenges and are looking to treck in parts less explored.

In addition to its landscape, the management area is also historically rich and has witnessed a variety of settlements in different eras on these very lands. Traces of Spanish settlements were found here with the unearthing of the Chacoan Era ruins of the 18th century, which visitors can now find in the form of half-concealed adobe “rancheros” in certain regions of this vast wilderness.

Outdoor activities at Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area include horseback riding, biking, backpacking, and hiking to name a few.

RV Rentals in Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area

Transportation

Driving

Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area is a remote destination in Mesa Chivato, NM. Getting here isn’t easy and this is the main reason why few visit these parts.

If driving from Bernalillo, NM, travel northwest on to Highway US 550. Continue driving for about 40 miles. As you pass San Ysidro and reach the junction of County Road 279 take a left. The turnoff can be identified by a green sign labeled "San Luis - Cabezón – Torreón”. If you see the sign you are on the right track!

This road is paved and will take you past the quaint village of San Luis and soon after, the road turns into dirt and gravel. From here on, you’ll need to brace yourself for a bumpy ride for the next 18 miles or so. Cross the bridge above the Chico Arroyo until you reach the split on the road, one heading south and the other heading west. Take the BLM Road 1103 heading west for a mile and stay on it as it leads towards the mesa top of the Ignacio Chavez Grant.

During dry conditions, the dirt roads are easily passable but during rainy seasons they can get slippery and difficult to handle. There aren’t any facilities here for miles, and your closest stocking opportunity is at Cuba and San Ysidro at least 20 miles from the County Road 279 Intersection.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area

Campsites in Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area

First-come first-served

BLM Campground

Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area allows primitive camping for up to 14 days at a stretch. When horseriding, hiking or backpacking this vast wilderness region, you can camp anywhere you please as long as you are not damaging the natural surroundings. Simply adhere to the seven standard leave-no-trace principles that are applicable to all BLM managed land.

Do not cut live vegetation for fires. Only dead and down wood can be picked. When possible use disturbed campsites. If primitive camping, adventure, and seclusion are what you desire than this region is definitely for you.

Rio De Las Vacas Campground

Rio De Las Campground is the closest thing to a developed campground near the Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area. This campground is situated under the pine-covered Jemez Mountains and open to the public. The campground boasts a total of 15 RV campsites that have paved RV pads, fire rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets. Fishing and hiking opportunities are also plentiful here making for an enjoyable and comfortable camping experience

Clear Creek Campground

Clear Creek Campground is also relatively close to the Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area. It boasts individual campsites, as well as, group sites with paved RV pads, fire rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets. There is a total of 15 no-hookup campsites. The campground facilitates visitors with drinking water. The campground has a 16-ft trailer limit and a max RV limit of 30 ft.

Seasonal activities in Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area

In-Season

Mountain Biking

Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area offers the most ideal landscape for mountain biking enthusiasts that want to take on challenging rugged terrain in remote locations. There’s nothing but dirt and uneven ground in most parts of the wilderness study areas, making it the perfect surface for mountain biking. No permits are required for it and you can choose whatever trail or path you want as long as it is not specifically mentioned or marked.

While the area is extremely secluded and remote, you still need to keep an eye out for hikers and campers.

Hiking and Horseback Riding

There are two ways you can enjoy hiking and horseback riding at the Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area. You can either choose the rugged cliffs and mesa covered lands of the two wilderness areas, or you can go for the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail that runs parallel to BLM 1103− or you can do both.

The Continental Divide Trail is about 70 miles northwest of Albuquerque, NM, and pretty close to the Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area. It’s an easy out-and-back trail that is a round-trip of about five miles. Along the trail, you’ll be able to catch sight of volcanic plugs, Cerro Quate, Cerro de Guadalupe and other historic landmarks. Bring horse feed with you if you plan to enjoy this trail on horseback.

Hunting

Hunting is a popular activity among those that visit the Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area, as the vast landscape offers the ideal hunting grounds for upland game animals, as well as deer and elk. Make sure you take the necessary precautions and adhere to hunting guidelines at all times during your hunting escapades.

Off-Season

Wildlife

The wilderness area is vast and within it are several habitats that support many species of wildlife. Hiking or backpacking your way through this wilderness, you are most likely to encounter mule deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, and elks roaming about.

The combined wilderness region also hosts golden eagle nesting sites, in addition to black bears. Merriam’s turkey, tassel-eared squirrels, red-tailed hawks, jays, sharp-shinned hawks, and juncos also inhibit the region.

Guadalupe Ghost Town

An unwritten rule of adventuring is that if there’s a ghost town nearby, you just have to visit it. Guadalupe Ghost Town is the remnant of what was a former brothel bring in folks from all parts.

The building is now barren and desolate and stands shabbily all alone in the midst of the Rio Puerco Valley. The building is made of adobe walls that were a tradition then and even has a balcony from where ladies used to call out for clients.

Photography

This remote and isolated region offers the perfect backdrop for some truly spectacular nature and landscape photography. The lights and shadows made by the diverse desert landscape here can keep you snapping pictures all day long. The Chihuahuan Desert and volcanic plateau make for some amazing scenic views while plenty of historic landmarks can also be captured on film as you explore this vast wilderness.

Find the perfect campsite.