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Guadalupe Ridge

Guadalupe Ridge – Big Dog Canyon 1,600' AGL,  32.084805° -104.809092°, launch 6,000' MSL

USHPA required notification: The RGSA and Southwest Airsports recommend that you do not fly at this site as it is not a chapter managed site.  If you do choose to fly at this site, you must take full responsibility for your actions, and recognize that you are fully and solely liable for any damage incurred by yourself, others, or others’ property. This site is unimproved with significant safety issues, including potentially challenging wind and thermal conditions. Flying at this site can be risky to the pilot, property owners, and our sport as a whole. This site is unpermitted, uninsured, unmanaged, and unimproved.

The Ridge is located in the Lincoln National Forest, Otero County, NM.  This site is governed the National Forest Service rules which require that visiting pilots be accompanied by a Rio Grande Soaring Association member.

The view from launch looking west

Guadalupe Rim launch area, New Mexico

This is a thermal and ridge-soaring site northwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico. It’s rated H/P 2 with prior mountain experience. It is the rim of a vast valley that runs about 20 miles due north & south, and may be flown in wind directions ranging from Southwest to due West. The valley is flat and grass covered, about 6:1 from launch, and can be landed anywhere. The site is marginally suitable for top landings because of the steep face of the ridge.  When the winds are more than 5-7 mph, the rotor behind launch extends east at least a 1/4 mile.  A PG pilot was hurt in the rotor in December 2000.  If a top landing is desired, be certain that you have enough altitude to fly behind launch far enough to get out of the rotor. 

Guadalupe Ridge looking north from launch

Guadalupe Rim launch area, New Mexico

The setup area can accommodate 50 gliders (HG or PG) at once. The most commonly used launch is a dirt slope about 50 feet long, sloping down at 45 degrees. In winds of 20 mph or more, the site becomes turbulent, and a wire crew for HG becomes essential. This site can get very windy indeed, and blowouts are common. Plan to fly early! A sled run is typically 5 to 10 minutes in duration; soaring flights of several hours are also common.

The 2008 Presidents Day RGSA fly-in at the Ridge

Rio Grande Soaring Association fly-in 2008 at Guadalupe Ridge

As of the year 2009, no XC flights have been made from this site. Access is by a graded 2WD road, on US Forest Service land. Access to the LZ in the valley involves an almost-4WD section, however. This site is popular for club campouts, and is very remote. Take lots of extra food, water and gasoline. Sitting Bull Falls, a popular recreation site for swimming in spring-fed pools, is a 2-hour drive from the launch site. Contact RGSA members for directions.

PG from this site is "iffy" even during the winter months as conditions tend to be too strong to safely launch and soar the ridge.  We are researching better times when PG pilots can safely fly, such as in the fall.