Turtleback Mountain (elev. 6102') - Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

The Premier Mountain Hike in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
For those who visit the quirky-named town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, usually the hot springs and Elephant Butte Lake are the top destinations. However, for those of you who love a good mountain climb, then I suggest Turtleback Mountain, which is the peak directly east of town. With regards to the mountain's name, some maps name the summit "Caballo Cone," but none of the locals call it that. Everyone refers to it as "Turtleback Mountain." If you look closely, you may notice the arrangement of rocks on top looks a turtle with its stomach down and its front left arm out. See it? :)

Directions: From the center of Truth or Consequences, go east on Third Street toward Elephant Butte Lake. Immediately after the road crosses the Rio Grande (which is the second bridge), turn right onto a dirt road and drive two miles. After the first cattle guard, there is a small parking area on the left. The trailhead is around the right side of the hill next to the parking area.

Distance / Information: The trail is 2.2 miles (one way). This is a rocky, rugged and strenuous hike. It is not for novices. The elevation gain is approximately 2200 feet. Once you're on the ridge, there are many false summits. Keep going until you reach the summit.

Turtleback Mountain in Truth or Consequences, NM
The view of Turtleback Mountain from Truth or Consequences. The trail climbs up to the ridge on the far left. Hikers work their way across to the right.
Turtleback Mountain, New Mexico
Another view of Turtleback Mountain as I approached while driving southbound on Interstate 25.

Photos and videos by Steve Garufi in Buena Vista, Colorado. Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - YouTube

Click any image to view it at a larger size.
Interstate 25 New Mexico


February 15, 2014 - My morning began by checking out of my motel in Socorro and heading south on Interstate 25.
Turtleback Mountain, NM Approaching Truth or Consequences. Turtleback Mountain is on the left.
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Here's the history on the town's name. Originally, it was named Hot Springs, New Mexico, but the community changed its name to the popular TV show from 1950s and 1960s, named "Truth or Consequences."
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico I began my hike on a sunny and warm Saturday in mid-February, and I didn't see another hiker throughout my expedition.

Adjacent is a photo taken early on the trail, where there's a large field of ocotillos with the Rio Grande and Truth or Consequences afar.

Turtleback Mountain Trail Lots of cactus is along the trail.

In the distance is "Caballo Cone" or the top of Turtleback Mountain. Whatever you call it, that was the destination, and it was still a far way off at this point.

Truth or Consequences Hike Once I ascended to the ridge, I still had a long way to go with many "ups and downs." This photo shows the biggest gully that one has to descend, only to climb back up.
Caballo Cone, NM

Turtleback Mtn

TOP: The summit was still far.

SECOND: Getting closer.

Turtleback Mountain, NM The view to the north.

A pretty yucca plant with Elephant Butte Lake afar.

Turtleback Mountain Trail, New Mexico When I snapped this picture, I was so tired. This shows the final grunt to the top.

Turtleback Mountain (Elevation 6102 Feet)

Steve Garufi in New Mexico

Summit Log

I was so happy to reach the summit.

There is a story behind this mountain. In October 1994, when I was age 23, I was visiting New Mexico for the first time. I was hanging around Truth or Consequences and falling in love with the American West for the first time.

I attempted to hike Turtleback Mountain, and as a novice, I didn't get very far and didn't even reach the ridge. Almost 20 years later, I succeeded. :)

Turtleback Mountain, NM The rock pile at the top.
Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico The beautiful view of Elephant Butte Lake to the north.
FIRST: Looking out toward Truth or Consequences.

SECOND: The view toward the east. It looked like "no man's land" out there.

Turtleback Mountain, New Mexico

Summit View

My other New Mexico pages:
  • Bike: San Luis, CO to Taos, NM
  • Bike: Taos, NM to Santa Fe, NM
  • Very Large Array
  • Bike Across USA: Biking on I-10
  • Bike Across USA: Las Cruces to Alamogordo
  • Bike Across USA: Alamogordo to Cloudcroft
  • Albuquerque Photos

  • Turtleback Mountain, New Mexico When I was back in town, I looked up at the mountain and smiled. For the rest of my life, I'll know what it was like to be up there. :)


    Hiking the trail.

    Near the top.

    On the summit.

    Not too shabby!

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