Guadalupe Ridge

Launch 1,600' AGL, 6,000' MSL, H2/P2 with prior mountain experience
PG launch 32.2605710º -104.8963580º
HG launch 32.2537955º -104.8933776º
LZ 32.2618089º -104.8919299º (Top LZ for HG)
Camping 32.2614743º -104.8945816º
When flown during thermic times/dates, TURB recommended
RS recommended
HG Launch:
  Hangies: ideal direction 240° - 260°, wind 12 mph gusts no more than 5 mph
  Baggies: P4 recommended, ideal direction 240° - 260°, wind 10 mph gusts no more than 5 mph
PG Launch:
  Baggies only, ideal direction 240° - 260° , wind 10 mph gusts no more than 5 mph

Revised 20210227

If you 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, to others, or to others’ property. This site is unimproved with significant safety issues, including potentially challenging wind and thermal conditions. This site is uninsured, unmanaged, and unimproved.

General info

The Ridge is located in the Lincoln National Forest, Otero County, NM.  This is a thermal and ridge-soaring site. In good conditions it is rated H2 /P2 with prior mountain experience; strong conditions H/P3. It is the rim of a vast valley that runs about 20 miles NNW to SSE, and may be flown in wind directions ranging from SouthWest to due West. The soarable portion of the ridge is 11 miles long. The valley is flat and grass covered, about 6:1 from launch, and can be landed anywhere.

The designated PG and HG launches are the most popular, but dozens and dozens of sites along the 50+ mile ridge will work.

Camping is free, excellent and close to launch (32.2614743, -104.8945816). This is one of the darkest sites in the continental USA and that combined with the 6000’ elevation and dry air make the seeing unbelievably great. It's dark enough to see the Zodiacal light pre-dawn. The nearest town is Queen, where there is superb mobile phone service. Be sure to stop in at the Queen Store and Cafe . They make fabulous food, the pies and burgers are particularly noteworthy. They know about the fly-in , and are supportive. 575-981-2439
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. 


PG PILOTS - DO NOT TOP LAND BETWEEN 20 FEET AND 300 FEET BEHIND THE TOP OF THE RIDGE!!  Either skim the ridge and land right on the lip, or gain a minimum of 300’ (500' is best) and fly back to land in the designated HG LZ, which is well east of the camping area. Another option for PG is a side hill landing about 100’ below the PG launch. That slope is about 20 degrees and free from rocks and cactus. The same slope can be used to launch in strong conditions, and should be used in winds 15-20 mph instead of the top launch area.

HG pilots typically land in the designated LZ east of the camping area. It has a nice approach and is reasonably free of trees and bushes.

Hill below PG launch

If you are having trouble with any of the top landing methods, DO NOT TOP LAND! If you are sinking out and are unable to side-hill land (PG), pick a spot on the plains below, as close to the ridge as possible. There is a deer path up to the PG launch.  In-shape people can do the climb in an hour. Fat old pilots will struggle for three hours (Steve Crye's advice).  Bring water, food, hiking poles and sun protection. HG pilots landing below will need a retrieve. Access to the LZ in the valley involves an almost-4WD section of dirt road, with a 3.5 hour round trip from the launch. 


The entire ridge is in the TALON MOA.  Although there are no prohibitions against flying in the MOA, check with the CONUS FSS (800-992-7433) to see if there are any scheduled training flights, and to let them know you will be operating there.

Directions to Launch

PG launch 32.2605710, -104.8963580
HG launch 32.2537955, -104.8933776

From US-180/US-62, turn onto Dark Canyon Road (408). Follow Dark Canyon 23 miles to NM-137 S. Follow NM-137 S for 23 miles though the town of Queen to CR 413 National Livestock Road (dirt) . Follow the dirt road 9.4 miles to launch/camping/LZ

Yes a Corolla can make it to launch!

Guadalupe Rim launch area, New MexicoThe view from HG launch looking west

Guadalupe Rim launch area, New MexicoGuadalupe Ridge looking north from HG launch

PG Launch, Winter 2016

The setup area can accommodate 50 gliders 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.

Rio Grande Soaring Association fly-in 2008 at Guadalupe RidgeThe 2008 Presidents Day RGSA fly-in at the Ridge

Wind and Conditions

When the winds are more than 5-7 mph, the rotor behind launch extends back at LEAST 300' Don't mess with rotor!  Ideal winds are from 230 at 8 to 15 mph. Look at the various Windy and XCskies models at 6000', 6400' and 10,000' Look at the big picture, and look at the trends - this site is USUALLY blown out, so timing is important. In the spring and summer thermals mixing with ridge lift can be very challenging. Best conditions are fall and winter.

Ideal direction and speed

Ideal direction and speed

Additional Info and Hazards

In good conditions The Guads are a stunning and unique flying experience. Where else can 20 mile out and back XC be done via ridge-soaring?

Looking North, winter 2016

Looking south, Winter 2016 .PG launch and windsock are visible above and right of the pilot's hand.

Because of the remote location, potential pressure to top land in dangerous conditions, significant rotor and numerous rocky ravines on the lower two thirds of the slope,  pilots must have experience with top landing and mountain launches in strong conditions. 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 - this means east of the campground. Either land within 10 feet of the lip (or below the lip), or farther back than the camping area. In strong conditions if pilots are plucked off launch and unable to penetrate forward, they will end up in the rotor right behind launch.