off road driving
23 days ago

I had a much different experience than many of the reviewers below. As of October 26th, 2018, this is not an "easy" or "fast" off road trail. Sure, if you stick to the cattle roads, you can push 30 mph. However, you will run into washed/rutted out sections of the road that sink 2-3 feet down. I sincerely doubt that you want to slam into some of these ruts/whoops/etc. at any sort of speed.

I went as far to the north as Ortiz Mountain and Montoso Peak. (I actually went between Ortiz and Montoso). I went as far to the south as Tetilla Peak. At no time were any of the roads/trails hazard free. It was quite common to drive up to a 25-30 yard stretch of deep mud; patches of washed out roadway filled with jagged rocks; or deeply rutted out sections of the road that required careful straddling. None of the hazards were incredibly difficult, but if you come out with the impression that you're going to fart around at 45 mph, you're going to get snap your "stuff" up.

Cows. Lots of them. I would guess that there are at least 5 different herds grazing the Caja. It was not at all uncommon to find a cow drinking from a mud puddle in the roadway. It would be a damn shame if someone came barreling around a turn only to slam into a 1700lb Hereford. I'm telling you, there's a high probability that you're going to have a bad time if you act like a dummy.

I sincerely doubt that anyone in a high clearance 2WD (think crossover) will make it anywhere substantive in the Caja. There's a gnarly section of cattle road approx. 1-2 miles into the trail (near where the makeshift shooting range is), and it would be very entertaining to see a Subaru go through it. It's not impossible, but I don't think it would be wise.

I was in a Titan PRO-4X and I did OK. I was in 2WD for most of the trip, but I switched into 4HI once we got into the nastier stuff just to make life smoother. I did not fit around most of the turns or between tight sections with trees. If you're in a wider truck, you may want to consider this. Trees/branches/bushes will be rubbing up against you, and you will need to fold your mirrors in. Some of the river crossings were gnarly. Washed out with jagged rocks 1-2 feet deep. Some of the river crossings required a steep, sharp turn once making it across. Not overly technical, but I don't think a longbed truck would make it without doing an Austin Powers 30-point turn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGiQOCX9UbM

Overall I had a blast. I drove my dad out here (copilot #1) and we had a ton of fun as a team. Our primary suggestion is that you come prepared. Google a section of the trail that you think leads to a great view of the Rio Grande. Believe it or not, but Google knows de wae. I would sincerely recommend downloading some sort of map. I promise you, you will get lost if you go off of the main roadway without some sort of knowledge of how to get back. There are sections of the trail that disappear; it's highly likely that you won't see the trail that you need to turn onto once you're off the cattle road. The trails branch off suddenly, and it was totally common to drive over pathless sections of the desert via Google Maps' directions. (You could just barely see where a trail used to be once upon a time.)

Outside of that, PLEASE (1) bring food and water. If you snap your "stuff" up out here, you're probably going to be walking out to the main roadway and waiting for someone to come by. At times, I was several miles from the main cattle road. (I'm remembering somewhere between 10 and 20 miles away.) (2) There is 4G/LTE out here, so bring an car-type phone charger. You may be lucky enough to find an area that has signal. (3) Create a contingency plan. There are sharp volcanic rocks out here - what happens if you shred a tire? You're not going to have fun using a Hi-Lift jack in loose desert mud, believe me. (Bring a first aid kit, too.) (4) Finally, bring the proper mindset. You're going to have to constantly troubleshoot this trail in its current state. Again, this is not Moab or the Rubicon, but you're not going to find pretty manicured dirt roads out here. The cattle road is OK (I uploaded a picture of a nice section), but it gets nasty too.

Come prepared, have fun and God bless.