Orienteering is an adventure sport that combines socializing, fun exercise, and enjoying nature. Orienteering involves simply navigating from point to point, following a map. This can be as easy as a short walk in an urban park, or as difficult as an 24 hour, 100 mile wilderness passage without benefit of any trails. Orienteering offers both physical and mental exercise suitable for people of all ages. Orienteering courses are specially designed to provide graduated levels of both physical and mental challenge, from short easy courses for young children to exceptionally difficult courses for world class athletes, to physically easy but mentally very challenging courses for much older people and people with physical disabilities.
In orienteering, you use a map and compass to navigate to a series of checkpoints shown on a very detailed and accurate topographic map. You choose your own route, on or off trail, to visit each checkpoint and get to the finish line in the shortest amount of time. Each checkpoint, or "control," is a distinct feature on the map such as a trail junction, a boulder, a knoll, etc. Each control is marked on the map with a circle and in the terrain with an orange-and-white flag. Orienteering is often called "the thinking sport" and "cunning running" because navigating in unfamiliar terrain requires map reading, problem solving, and quick decision-making in addition to athletic ability and general physical fitness.
Orienteering skills are useful to outdoor enthusiasts. In deserts and mountains, these skills can and often do save lives, as well as making outdoor adventures less stressful and more enjoyable.
New Mexico Orienteers
New Mexico Orienteers is a sport orienteering club open to anyone. We held our first meet on June 7, 2003 in Los Alamos. We are affiliated with Orienteering USA (formerly USOF), the United States national affiliate of the International Orienteering Federation. We hold public orienteering meets at many locations in northern New Mexico. We hold meets in the spectacular canyons of Los Alamos (one of New Mexico's most intriguing places), the Santa Fe National Forest, and the stunning Valles Caldera National Preserve. In Albuquerque, our meet locations include the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area at the west foot of Sandia Crest and the Cibola National Forest east of Sandia Crest. Most participants at our meets come from around New Mexico and neighboring states, but vacationing orienteers have come from many other states and several other countries as well. Our orienteering meets are popular activities for birthday parties and youth group outings. Participants at our meets have ranged in age from 5 to the 70's. All our meets are open to club members and non-members alike, and free training can usually be provided for beginners and oldtimers alike. Just ask! To orienteer with us requires no special equipment. A compass is optional, and you can rent one from us for $1.
Our meets are low-key and training oriented. Most meets include beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses. New courses are designed for each meet, to specifications recommended by Orienteering USA so that the courses have consistent and predictable levels of technical and physical challenge.
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Orienteering for beginners, a popular YouTube video of a child on an easy course using electronic punching
Orienteering USA, our national sanctioning organization
Valles Caldera National Preserve, location of one of our maps