Sitting Bull Falls, New Mexico

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The first piece of Sitting Bull Falls (October 2016)

Out in the middle of nowhere (well, a beautiful nowhere…), you’ll find Sitting Bull Falls. Just sitting around, waiting to be found. And to be honest, it really isn’t that difficult to find Sitting Bull Falls…it’s just takes a while to get there.

To get to Sitting Bull Falls you’ve got to drive about 45 minutes to an hour off of the main highway (either US-62 or US-285). As you get closer, you are rewarded with some beautiful views as you drive through the canyon (or what I think is a canyon). You also have to slow down as the curves become sharper. It’s all worth it to see an unexpected waterfall in a desert.

Sitting Bull Falls is more expansive than it appears. There are really almost two separate pieces to the falls separated by a few hundred feet at most. So at first glance, the waterfall seems limited (depending on the volume of water flowing), until you realize there’s more. It’s impossible to get both pieces in the same picture since trees effectively cover the second half. What also adds to Sitting Bull Falls beauty is the stone that is behind the falls. When you visit Sitting Bull Falls, you should also plan on visiting Carslbad Caverns National Park (and Guadalupe National Park). The rocks at the falls look a lot like the rocks in the caverns below. The dissolved minerals in the water flowing over the falls create a similar effect to the dissolve minerals in the caves below. And since there’s not as much rain to wash those effects away, these features probably stay around longer on the surface. It’s pretty awesome to see.

And while I don’t know if I’d go so far out of my way to see only the falls, you should absolutely stop and visit Carlsbad Caverns, which is really close as the bird flies, and yet about 1.5 hours driving time. I hadn’t realized that there were self-guided tours of the caverns, which allow you to explore at your own pace. And then across the border in Texas, Guadalupe Mountains provides even more awesome views.

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The hidden piece of Sitting Bull Falls (to the left of other falls)

Directions:

  1. If you’re on US-285, head southwest along NM-137. If you’re on US-62, take NM-408 west. NM-408 west will connect into NM-137 right before you take your next turn.
  2. You should end up on NM-137 heading south at some point in time no matter what direction you’re taking (unless you’ve taken some really weird route), and then you’ll turn right onto Sitting Bull Falls Road (NM-409). (If you continued along NM-137, you’d end up in the northern entrance of Guadulupe Mountains NP.)
  3. Continue on Sitting Bull Falls Road until you come to the end of the road after about 8 miles. The signage was very good, and so it was hard to miss the turns.
  4. Pay the entrance fee at the self-serve kiosk, and then take the short hike along the paved trail to the falls. (The falls are out of view from the parking area.)

Accessibility: 10/10 (handicapped-accessible)
Height: ~150′
Hike: 0.25 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Sitting Bull Falls?

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