Urraca Mesa

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Rumored to be a “gateway to Hell”, the place is said to have once had several cat totems distributed around. The cat totems were said to guard the gates and as long as they remained in place, the gateway could not open. According to legend, the cat totems have been slowly disappearing and one day soon the totem protectors will no longer be able to keep the gates closed.

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    Geographic Information

    Urraca Mesa
    United States

    Get Directions »
    36.4136471, -104.9980592
    Colfax County, New Mexico
    Nearest Towns:
    Cimarron, NM (8.1 mi.)
    Ute Park, NM (11.9 mi.)
    Angel Fire, NM (16.0 mi.)
    Eagle Nest, NM (17.7 mi.)
    Springer, NM (22.7 mi.)
    Maxwell, NM (26.7 mi.)
    Taos Ski Valley, NM (28.3 mi.)
    Taos Pueblo, NM (30.4 mi.)
    Red River, NM (30.4 mi.)
    Taos, NM (32.0 mi.)


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    Comments (4)

    1. In 2003, at the age of 15, I attended National Junior Leader Instructor Camp (NJLIC) at Philmont. This was housed at Rocky Mountain Scout Camp – not too far from the Tooth of Time or Urraca Mesa.

      One of the things we did was an orienteering challenge at the area of the Mesa. It is interesting to note here that the camp staff who ran NJLIC were not employed by Philmont and I am not sure of the extent of what they knew about the Mesa. I heard rumors that some of them knew it was haunted – and that was about it.

      My patrol of 6 or so made out towards the Mesa area. Our goal was to find certain checkpoints that contained markers that you were supposed to find with your compass. Some of them were fake – you had the get the codes written on the correct ones according to the coordinates you were given.

      Our compasses were not working correctly – and to add to the stress, storm clouds were gathering – and it did not take long to realize we were lost. I began getting a feeling I cannot easily describe with words. My stomach was turning, my palms were sweaty, and I almost felt as though a voice was telling us to leave and get out of this area. I felt like someone or some thing was watching us closely and examining our every move. It also began sprinkling and we could sense thunder was not far behind. We kept going up the side of the Mesa in search of the last checkpoint marker before we could head back. I kept getting more and more anxious until finally we found or checkpoint in the distance.

      We ended up beating a huge storm (thankfully). We never saw anything on the Mesa, but the feeling I had that day made me glad we didn’t. I am convinced something not normal was going on up on the Mesa that day, something watching us closely.

      Months after this experience, I had an elderly scoutmaster tell me a story of totems, hell, and a Shaman protecting portal to the underworld on the Mesa. The feeling came back as he told this story, and since then and to this day I am convinced the blue Shaman was watching us on that mountain, to make sure we did not unseal the portal.

    2. I also went to NJLIC at Philmont in 2003 but it must have been after Michael’s session. When I went, they had reset the orienteering challenge. They spoke of the issues which scouts had previously had orienteering on the Mesa. That year, one of the counselors at another camp in Philmont had been a masters geology student. He was called in after Michael’s session, along with a few geologists from surrounding communities to investigate the anomaly. It turns out that Urraca Mesa contains unusually large amount of ferric iron bases compounds in both the soil and rock. This effects the use of compasses within the area around Urraca, making the needles of the compasses point toward the mesa. To combat this, NJLIC changed the orienteering course from compass based to GPS based.

    3. I remember i was 12 or so, and the only thing at philimont that stuck out more than the bears, was this mesa. We were doing a 5 day backpacking trip through here to get our “50 miler” badge, and it was mid afternoon. Cold and hard rain the previous day had slowed us down (this was in august, and new mexico has “monsoon rains” which are wild and fierce summer rains. Our campsite was on the other side of the mesa, and it should have taken us only about 2 hours to cross it. Our guide was really apprehensive, but if we didnt make it to the campsite, we would have had to make it up the last day, and we wanted to finish on time.
      So our compassas werent working, first of all. My buddies compass was pointing 30 degrees north and mine was 30 the other way. Our guide was too distracted trying to do visual landmarks, as the mesa was well known to either have loadstones or magnetic properties. We lost our way a couple of times, but the sun was starting to set now. One thing then towards the edge of the mesa, there was a “cat” statue, or totem. It was facing inwards, and the guide says thats good, its supposed to be the edge of the mesa, and our campsite was on the other side. We barely got our tents set up by the creek on the other side, and a storm hit us good. Boyscouts are always prepared and i kinda loved the rain, so i was outside watching it. ANd it was weird, it wasnt lightning where we were, but it looked like the mesa was getting HAMMERED. Our guide said he sometimes saw glowing from up there in greens and yellows, but we weren’t (scouts or the BSA) werent allowed to camp up there and he was really discouraged to cross at night due to the compass rules.
      We definitely felt a bit spooked . I remember a few people had taken photos but their photos looked like they were pointing them at the sun , or it was flared beyond recognition, though a few shots were aimed i KNOW at just us campers. SO that was also weird.

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