Cerro Parido (Whale Rock) Loop

Cerro Parido (Whale Rock) Loop Hike
In Cabezon Region

Map File Source: NG Topo

map Hike Key: H10611
Last Updated: 12/15/2020 12:00am
Last Updated By: Marilyn Warrant
Hike Class: C (Challenging)
Hike Distance: 4.5 mi
Minimum Elevation: 6432 ft
Elevation Change: 467 ft
Total Uphill: 635 ft
Total Downhill: 635 ft
Avg. Grade: 6 %
Route Type: CCW Loop
On Trail: No
Paved or Gravel Roads: No
GPS Advised: Yes
Drive Distance Round Trip: 175 mi
Drive Time One-Way: 1:45
Hiking Seasons:
New Mexico Game Unit: 9
Hike Status: Published
Access Description: Cabezon Area Access


Spectacular views, interesting geology, wildlife, wildflowers. Opportunity to get up close to a favorite volcanic neck.


Off-trail hiking on scree and one steep uphill may challenge some hikers. Trekking poles are recommended. Take plenty of water and sun protection. Do not attempt this hike if the roads may be wet.

Trailhead Directions

From Albuquerque, take I-25 North to Bernalillo Exit 242 and go west on US 550. Drive northwest on US 550 to Mile Marker 41 (18 miles from San Ysidro) and turn left (west) at sign marked San Luis-Cabezon. You will be leaving US550 onto County Road (CR) 279. Zero out the odometer here.

Drive past the intersection with TORREON RD (8.4 mi) where the paved road changes to a dirt road. Stay southwest and west on CR 279. You will cross a one-lane BRIDGE (20.0 mi). Turn right or north at junction with BLM 1103 (JCTBLM1103 (21.4 mi)). Go another 4.2 mi to Hunter’s Camp where you will turn right onto CR 25, which goes south and west of Cerro Del Ojo Frio. Continue to PARK (0.0 mi).

Actual Hike

Follow the remnants of a 2-track to an arroyo where you will cross at ARROYO XG (0.3 mi). While marveling at the western views of Cerro Parido, continue on the game trail to a shortcut back TO CR25 (0.8 mi). Trek southward to a massive and historic man-made watering TANK (1.4 mi) for cattle. Follow the 2-track around the southern aspect of the Cerro Parido to an historical vertical pipe ownership marker, BNCHMRK (2.6 mi). Take your time to begin climbing up to the summit of the cerroito for a well-earned LUNCH (2.8 mi). The views are spectacular and worth the climb up.

Take your time making your way down the cerroito, stopping often to enjoy the ever-changing views of the Whale Rock. You be the judge, but one of the best close-up views might be at PHOTO OP (3.6 mi). Enjoy the mostly downhill off-trail walk back to the vehicle.


If time permits after the hike, consider spending an extra 3/4 of an hour visiting the historic stage coach station at Arabache Station, about 2.5 miles further west on CR 25 (see other waypoint, ARABACHE STN).

Elaboration on Cautions: The first half of the hike is definitely an “A” hike, but starting at waypoint BNCHMRK to the hike end we will be hiking almost exclusively on scree going up and down ridges and arroyos, this last half makes this a “C” hike. If you have problems with ankles when hiking on scree, you might consider not doing this hike.

Hike data were determined using a Garmin GPSMap 62 and Garmin BaseCamp’s DEM for TOPO U.S. 24K Southwest.


For actual hike:
PARK: N35 36.500, W107 19.385
ARROYO XG: N35 36.338, W107 19.551
TO CR25: N35 36.122, W107 19.868
TANK: N35 35.683, W107 20.025
BNCHMRK N35 35.410 W107 19.167
LUNCH: N35 35.338, W107 18.972
PHOTO OP: N35 35.932, W107 18.927

CR25: N35 34.899, W107 12.438
CERRO DEL OJO FRIO: N35 35.606, W107 13.488
CERROPARIDO: N35 35.737, W107 19.104
BEAR MOUTH: N35 35.083, W107 15.906
ARABACHE STN: N35 37.081, W107 20.988

Map Filename: CerroParido(WhaleRk)Lp_BG.jpg
Hike GPS File Name: CerroParido(WhaleRk)LpMod_BGBG.gpx
Hike GPS File: Click link to download hike waytrack file

Text Author: Bill Gloyd
Map Author: Bill Gloyd
Waypoints Author: Bill Gloyd
Track Author: Bill Gloyd
Maintainer: Bill Gloyd
Editor: Marilyn Warrant