Route Overview


Southern New Mexico



Days Out


Recommended Tire Size

≥ 2.2``


to April

Elevation Gain



7/10 Physical
6/10 Technical

Primary Surface(s)

Rough Gravel
4x4 roads

Route Map

Route Details

Monumental Loop version 3.0 includes much of the best riding from Loop 2.0 and adds in four new and distinct mountain ranges, each with its own unique geology, cultural sites, and cycling experience.

This route balances solitude with ample resupply options in small towns. Cultural and historical sites are abundant, especially on the western portion of the route.

Monumental Loop 3.0 was created to expand the riding experience found on Loop 2.0 and encompass the four mountain ranges in the proposed Mimbres Peaks National Monument. Much like Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, the riding is classic Basin and Range terrain with relatively flat basins interrupted by small, but dramatic, mountains. The subtle terrain and solitude of the Chihuahuan Desert provides ample space for self-reflection and personal growth. Despite appearances, the land is far from being “the middle of nowhere” and observant riders will see traces of human presence dating back thousands of years.

Beginning in downtown Las Cruces, the route follows multi-use paths, then irrigation ditches before reaching the open desert in the Doña Ana Mountains. This pattern plays out repeatedly throughout the ride. Small town, mellow gravel, chunkier desert roads, then pavement or gravel into the next town. After 70 miles, riders enter the chile (not chili) capital of the world, Hatch, New Mexico. Fill up on food, easy to do, and water before setting out on the 100-mile stretch with no services from Hatch to Deming. The Sierra de las Uvas dominate the first 40 miles after Hatch and present a variety of obstacles for riders. White Gap Pass is the biggest challenge on the route, with an extended hike-a-bike both up and down from the pass.

At a place locals know as Yucca Flats, the route deviates from Monumental Loop 2.0 and heads west toward a pair of Massacre Peaks. Despite the ominous names, riding is generally easier, though occasionally sandy, through the Goodsight range and into the foothills of Cooke’s Peak. Most of this section follows the historical Butterfield Overland Mail Trail, and there are numerous historical and archeological sites along the way. Rough riding resumes again in Cooke’s Canyon, the sight of numerous ambushes and small battles in the mid 1800s, but only lasts a few miles before the finest gravel roads in the area usher cyclists into Deming.

Leaving Deming, the route is fast and easy until it bumps up against the rugged Florida Mountains. The night skies here are ideal for stargazing, with the only light pollution coming from the El Paso/Juarez to the east. Daytime skies are equally impressive with views south into Mexico, west to Arizona, and the Gila is visible to the north. It’s hard not to see the Border Patrol blimp quietly surveying the area too. Moving south, the Tres Hermanas range is small but extremely enjoyable to ride through. A jaguar sighting is possible as these mountains are the northern extent of the Sierra Madre, but pronghorn, javelina, coyotes, and a number of raptors are far more likely to be spotted. The descent out of the Tres Hermanas is pleasant as it drops into Columbus. Only three miles south of Columbus is the town of Puerto Palomas, Mexico, which makes for an interesting side trip.

Rolling out from Columbus back east toward the Rio Grande is another long section with no resupply options. The terrain is mostly easy, including a 15-mile stretch of Highway 9 from which the border wall is visible. Several wilderness areas to the north of the highway force the route onto pavement. South of Mt. Riley, riders hit smooth, by New Mexico standards, gravel and enter the western portion of the Cone Zone. This area is dominated by volcanic cones, maar volcanoes, and lava flows. Sandy roads eventually pass by Killbourne Hole before descending back to the Rio Grande valley.

The final stretch from La Union in the south valley is delightful. After a dozen or so mellow miles along the Rio, the Loop turns toward the Organ Mountains, where it joins the Sierra Vista Trail. This 29-mile long National Scenic Trail has some spectacular views of the entire route and is a hoot to ride. Eventually, some downhill single track leads back to Las Cruces.

Riding in southern New Mexico is often rough, sand and rocks in varying proportions are found everywhere. Because of this, we recommend riding mountain bikes, many folks prefer hardtails, but rigid bikes are acceptable. More important than suspension is having large (2.2 or bigger) tubeless tires. Desert riding is no place for tubes or ultralight sidewalls!

  • Paved: 27%
  • Smooth Gravel: 22%
  • Rough Gravel: 38%
  • 4×4 Road: 10%
  • Singletrack: 3%

Bikepacking is still relatively new to Las Cruces and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, so it’s critical that all riders are strictly following LNT principles and being good stewards. Stay on the trails/roads, camp in previously disturbed areas or sandy washes, and avoid campfires. We’ve made a lot of progress building relationships and a reputation with other public land users, ranchers, and land managers, and we hope to keep that going.

Recommended parking for the Loop is at Sisbarro Park. The large dirt lot north of the park has proven to be safe. Many out of state visitors travel through the El Paso airport. The most adventurous riders can make their way from the airport to the route via Franklin Mountains State Park, but shuttles to Las Cruces are also available.

Winds in the spring time can reach 50mph+, picking up most notably in the afternoons. Plan accordingly.

Dispersed camping is easy to find as the route is often on public land and in sparsely populated ares. A few State Parks offer a more luxurious camp environment, but at the cost of solitude and increased light pollution, which detracts from the world-class stargazing. Water, along with delicious food, is mostly found in the small towns along the route. The longest stretch without a town is nearly 100 miles. The most reliable cattle tanks are marked on the map. Please note, per the local BLM office’s instruction, these are listed as “emergency use only”. For us, not having water in the desert is an emergency! Do your best to be respectful when accessing water at ranching infrastructure. Do NOT linger in the area, disturb the cattle, or damage any range improvements (fences, troughs, gates, etc…)

If you’re comfortable with it, Matt suggests traveling a bit after sundown. On warmer nights, the desert comes to life after dark, and this is often the best time to view wildlife. During the spring windy season, riding at night is often the only relief.

The route travels near the US/Mexico border, including a stretch in close proximity to the border wall.

Get the route on Ride With GPS.

The route page for the Monumental Loop 2.0 is still available and provides alternative distance options for exploring the area (Loop 2.0 can be broken up into a North and South loop). Matt plans to continue to expand on the route network in the future. There are links on this route page to several write-ups and YouTube videos showcasing riders’ experiences on the loop.

Follow the route’s Instagram for events and updates.

Matt Mason created and stewards this route as well as the previous iterations of the Monumental Loop and the Rollin’ and Tumblin’ route, also published on this site. Here is a little about Matt in his own words:

My route making started early in a small creek in Iowa.  I was asked by my parents not to go in the nearby creek, but I knew every bend of the few miles that flowed through my neighborhood. More recently I created, then edited, shaped, and reshaped the Monumental Loop.  That project taught me a lot about what riders are looking for in routes.  Initially I focused on remoteness, natural beauty, and deprioritized the rider experience.  Using rfeedback and years of continuing to use the route myself I shifted to a rider first perspective. The shift, at least on the Monumental Loop, means more spicy resupply options, mellow miles replacing sand pits, yet it still maintains much of the natural beauty.   Rollin’ and Tumblin’ benefitted immediately from this new approach.  Instead of making routes I’m focused on creating the space and opportunities for riders to have transformative experiences.  Ideally folks come away from these routes knowing more about themselves and the region.  

Additional thanks to the Monumental Loop Stewards of Shred Pablo Lopez and Angelica Rubio. Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is a valuable advocacy partner, and they co-host the Dangerbird every October.

Thanks to Jan Bennett for test riding the route and providing feedback.

Matt has offered to be available to answer questions if you are planning a trip on this route. He is willing to help folks choose which route (2.0 or 3.0) is best for their needs/goals, and can offer custom variations to either. Please also get in touch with any updates on route conditions that may be relevant to other riders.

Please submit your questions and comments on the route via the contact form below.

    • This route traverses the traditional lands of the Piro/Manso/Tiwa, Chiricahua Apache and Mescalero Apache peoples.
    • Thanks to Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks for protecting the area.