The northern entrance of the Box Canyon provides an invitation to hiking, climbing and fun.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

Saturday’s “Celebrate and Elevate” Box Canyon event is designed to introduce all the activities the recreation area offers as one of the crown jewels surrounding Socorro County and help promote National Trails Day on June 3.

“It is our first one,” SCOPE director Samantha Winter said. “I hope people are taking away a couple of different things. They had a great time, and I’m hoping they take away that family-fun aspect.”

Located west of Socorro on Highway 60 toward Magdalena, The Box Recreation Area is already a favorite spot for rock climbers. It is the rock climbing that gives some people the impression the area is rugged (parts are), and that you need a four-wheel drive vehicle to access it.

A young rock climber tries out his newfound skills at The Box during a family outing.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

It’s the ease of access to climbing routes that help make the area famous, and a higher-clearance vehicle is best for getting to the back part of The Box, but there’s so much more to the area than just climbing, and that’s what Winter wants people to know about.

“I’m hoping they go ‘hmm, I didn’t know Socorro County offered some of these things,’” Winter said.

Those offerings include rocks and mineral gems, hiking trails, and numerous types of wildlife, including the occasional big horn sheep and wildflowers galore – many of which are heading into their spring peak.

“We are going to have a number of informational booths to include Cynthia Connolly, manager of the New Mexico Tech Mineral Museum, the Economic Development Division of the New Mexico, and we will have the Friends of the Bosque del Apache booth too,” Winter said.

There’s plenty more with the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge booth, a scavenger hunt booth, and a significant educational push to ensure participants leave no trace of their visits.

Rock climbing instructors will be on hand for demonstrations, but for kids wanting to climb, the New Mexico National Guard is expected to bring in a climbing wall for those who want to try out the sport.

With the idea of creating low-impact on the area, a 30-minute free shuttle is being offered.

“To help kind of reduce traffic flow in and out of the canyon, the City of Socorro is offering a free shuttle from the Socorro County Convention Center to the Box Canyon events. If anybody is a little uncomfortable about driving into the canyon, they can park at the convention center and take the shuttle out there,” Winter said.

While it’s a good idea to pack some sunscreen and water, there will also be food and souvenir booths.

With June 3 being National Trails Day, it’s also a time to discover the several levels of hiking along. In March, a partnership between the city of Socorro, the state Land Office, BLM, and local stakeholders leased 5,000 acres of land for recreation adjacent to The Box.

The agreement opened unfettered access (previously only by permit) to the legendary challenging boulder known as the “Fight Club” in climbing circles. The city of Socorro has future plans for connector trails, new and improved signage, and additional amenities.

“We’ve got a couple of people who are going to be on one of the climbing walls showing kids how climbing works, like some of the safety gear involved. How you set up for a climb, set up a route, things like that. Climbing is great; it gives the kids a little boost, like, hey, you know, this is quite a safe thing. You know, it’s fun. It’s a really great way to exercise, and it’s a good kind of mental health practice as well. It helps you regulate your breathing, and if you’re doing it correctly, it is entirely safe,” Winter said.

Hikers can also expect to find others who are ready to help them improve their outdoor skills. On National Trails Day, many hikers are taking a pledge to leave the trails and outdoor community better than they found them.

Saturday’s activities get underway at 9 a.m.

Editor’s note: The Box Canyon Recreaton Area offers few amenities and is a backcountry area. It is advisable to bring water and stick to clearly marked trails.