Salt Creek Wilderness
General Trip Planning Information
Remember to use Leave No Trace techniques
when visiting the Salt Creek Wilderness.
Most visitors to the Wilderness engage in hiking, horseback riding or hunting with fewer numbers of birdwatchers and photographers. The more scenic area includes the red bluffs and the striking Inkpot Sinkhole located in the north-central part of the Wilderness, about 2.5 mi. north and 1 mi. west of the U.S. Hwy. 70 public access point. Check with the refuge office (telephone 575-622-6755) or web site (http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/newmex/bitterlake/index.html) for additional refuge regulations or information. Hunting, primarily for deer and small game (quail, dove, and pheasants), is conducted generally in accordance with State of New Mexico hunting regulations with some refuge specific regulations in effect. There is no refuge permit required, nor a fee charged for hunting on the refuge. Exploring is limited to daylight hours as camping is not allowed. Campfires are also not permitted.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
Climate conditions are highly variable from bitterly cold winter days to 100+ degree "scorchers" during summer. Winds 40 mph or greater regularly occur during the Spring, and precipitation is unusual with annual total around 11 -12 inches. Much of this is typically received in brief thunderstorms in July and August. PLAN TO BRING YOUR OWN DRINKING WATER. Although several large water-filled sinkholes are scattered throughout the area, the water is quite "gypy" and is not recommended for human consumption, even after filtration. Deer and other wildlife utilize this water, and it is apparently not harmful to horses.
Safety and Current Conditions
Wilderness users should carry plenty of drinking water, as previously mentioned. Sunscreen is also suggested and mosquito repellant can be needed, particularly after precipitation events. Visitors should be especially cautious around the Inkpot and other sinkholes, as well as the bluffs, because the gypsum "rock"/soil is somewhat "crumbly" and unstable. Also be advised that rattlesnakes are very common throughout the area, so snake "leggings" and extreme caution are highly recommended. Violent thunderstorms with dangerous lightning can appear with little warning, so always take appropriate precautions.