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San Agustin Pass

San Agustin Pass is the I70 route passing between the Organ Mountains and the San Pedro Mountains east of Las Cruces. On an extended tour it could be part of a long section without services between Alamogordo and Las Cruces, traversing a dessert that is largely off limits due its use as a missile range, air force base and military reservation. An exception to this military land use monopoly is the White Sands National Monument with campground about 30 miles east of the starting point of the eastern approach. The pass makes an interesting out and back ride from Las Cruces in great December weather. Many maps use the English designation "San Augustin Pass" instead of the Spanish spelling.
 

1.(4130ft,mile00) START-END EAST: first I70 service road access, east of junction with I25
2.(4880ft,mile11) road on right is used to access Organ Mountain trailheads
3.(5140ft,mile12) Organ
4.(5719ft,mile14) TOP: San Agustin Pass
5.(3950ft,mile24) START-END WEST: jct I70 - turnoff to White Sands Missile Range

Approaches

From West.  Leaving Las Cruces, a one way frontage road parallels I70 east of its junction with I25. One way shoulders reserved for bicycles are part of these frontage roads. These shoulders are also a signed bicycle route. The boulevards crossing the frontage road lead into new developments, most of which are dead end circles. An initial small climb becomes a barely discernible grade as the the Organ Mountains pierce the sky behind a sea of newly built houses. This may well be the most distinctive view along the entire route. The frontage roads together with the bike lanes continue to just before the town of Organ. Baylor Canyon is the the closest road to the Organ Mountains, providing trail access to serveral trail points. Continuing up San Agustin Pass, the cyclist continues on the shoulder of I70 through the trailers and business ruins of Organ. Houses continue to within a couple of hundred yards of the crest. The summit leads through a large rock cut and contains a sign with name and elevation. Just beyond the summit a parking lot on this side contains a display of an old small missile.


From East. Looking up I70 from the turnoff to the White Sands Small Missile Range, the approach to the pass looks deceptively low and shallow. It's just a single large sweep up an alluvial fan, leaving the rugged needles of the Organ Mountains to the left. The cyclist has a spacious shoulder, where three different layers of pavement peter out one after another towards the right, which also makes the shoulder a little difficult for skinny tires. Both sides of the road are fenced and labeled with do not enter warnings in English and Spanish. The road is often closed for an hour or two due to activity and the White Sands Missile Range. By the time you pass the turnoff to the Missile Range headquarters it becomes clear that this is a real climb, especially when the pass funnels a strong headwind in your face. Shortly before the pass a turnoff to the Aguirre Springs BLM area provides access to another strip of land in the Organ Mountains, before the Fort Bliss military reservation blocks access to its southern peaks.

 

Tours

Dayrides. 

(paved): An out and back ride from Radium Springs to Las Cruces, joining the profile at the junction with Del Rey Boulevard, continuing over the pass to the White Sands missile range turnoff measured 81 miles with 4000ft of climbing in 6:3hours using a Vetta cycle computer (r2:7.12.16).

(MTB+paved+portage): A loop ride with an additional, optional approach started in Radium Springs and continued > Las Cruces > Baylor Pass > Aguire Springs BLM area > San Agustin Pass > back to Las Cruces and Radium Springs, and measured 70 miles with 3100ft of climbing in 6:0 hours, on a sunny day with perfect temperatures between Christmas and New Year. Ride statistics were measured with a VDO MC1.0 cycle computer and do not include the portage which probably amounted to about 500ft of climbing in an hour (m3:07.12.30)

back to New Mexico's Summits and Passes by Bicycle