For the traditional climber, Questa offers several well-known ascents. Most of these are remote locations with limited cell-phone reception and distant emergency services. Plan well, be safe.
The Questa Dome
This is a 500’ granite dome with excellent multi-pitch routes in a remote mountain setting 8 miles north of town. The Dome is in the Latir Wilderness area of the Carson National Forest.
From highway 522, turn east 6 miles north of Questa onto County Road B-042, El Rito Road. Continue to end of road. Do not drive straight (private residence) but fork to the right onto a primitive dirt road. Park just ahead if you don’t have 4wd. Don’t block the road (another residence lies ahead). With 4wd, you can continue uphill to the forest road and turn right. In 0.2 miles, look for a pullout at the Del Medio trailhead. Please park only in these two areas and be respectful of using this private-property access.
About 15 minutes up this El Rito del Medio trail, you’ll start spotting some good climbs on your left, and in about a half-hour, where the trail falls close to El Rito Creek on your right, you’ll reach the Dome. There is a walk off to the east at the top of the boulder. This rock faces south, and can be warm in the summer and prone to afternoon thunder storms. Spring and fall are the best seasons, and early in the day vs. later.
The Wild and Scenic Wall
Another favorite location near Questa is the west side of the river in the Wild and Scenic area of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument 10.5 miles northwest of town. The favorite climb is known as The Candy Store.
The Monument is accessed by turning west off of highway 522 2.6 miles north of the light in Questa. This is state highway 378 passing through the settlement of Cerro. Past the last residence, you’ll find the Monument entrance. This is a good, paved loop road through stunning scenery. Excellent campsites are located further along the road.
To reach the climbing wall, look for one of the first trail heads on the right. Pull off at Bear Crossing trail, park, and walk down the short but steep trail to the Rio Grande. Late summer or fall, when the water level is low is the ideal time for this climb. You will need to rock-hop to the west side of the river (at the second set of rapids is best) or continue upstream to the small beach and wade across. The Wild and Scenic Wall is directly across from the beach.
A couple other climbs are just upriver of The Candy Store, see illustration below.
This climb is much closer to civilization. The hundred-foot-tall granite cliff is right along highway 38, just 2 or 3 miles east of the light in Questa. Look for a parking pullout here across from the pond and the Ranger Station area.
If you like an audience, or simply don’t have time to venture into the wilds, this is the place for a few hours (or more) of fun!
There are some newly-climbed routes above the traditional ones here; the guides noted below would have all the facts.
Area guidebooks with technical information can be purchased at Taos Mountain Outfitters on the plaza in Taos, 20 minutes south of Questa.
For instruction; check out Mountain Skills, headquartered in Arroyo Seco, between Questa and Taos. Find more information at www.climbtaos.com, or phone 575-776-2222.