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New Mexico

There are 2,548 named mountains in New Mexico. Despite being considered an arid, desert state, New Mexico is one of the U.S. Mountain States; which refers to the U.S. States that encompass the Rock Mountains. In fact, the New Mexican landscape contains several significant snow-capped peaks, 13 of which exceed 11,000 feet.

A significant portion of New Mexico’s 121,699 square miles is forested mountain wilderness, particularly in the northern part of the state, but the landscape also contains volcanic landscapes, including Mount Taylor, a stratovolcano, Sierra Grande, an extinct volcano, and Capulin Mountain, a large cinder cone. San Antonio Mountain, albeit smaller than nearby Grouse Mesa, is another prominent volcanic feature in New Mexico and stands alone at 10,922 feet.

The Southern Rocky Mountain region of New Mexico includes the highest peaks in New Mexico and include notable mountain ranges like the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Sierra Nacimiento Mountains. Other significant ranges include the Jemez, Zuni, Black, Guadalupe, and San Andres Mountains.

The Rio Grande River, the fourth largest river in the states, dissects the Rocky Mountains from north to south. East of the Rio Grande, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which earn their name from the pink-hued alpenglow they receive from the setting sun, lie at the southernmost point of the Rocky Mountains.

Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico, Pueblo Peak, and Latir Peak are all located in the Taos Mountains, a subrange of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The Santa Fe Mountains, another subrange of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, include Truchas Peak, the second tallest peak in New Mexico, Santa Fe Baldy, and Jicarita Peak.

To the west of the Rio Grande are the Nacimiento and Jemez Mountain ranges which include notable mountains like Pajarito Mountain, Cerro Toldeo, Chicoma Mountain, and Redondo Peak. The Guadalupe Mountains are located in southeastern New Mexico and include prominent mountains like Grouse Mesa and Brazos Peak.

The Sandia Mountains are the most visited and most accessible mountains in the state, due to their proximity to one of New Mexico’s most populated cities, Albuquerque. The highest point in the Sandia Mountains is Sandia Crest.

Major Trails and Hiking Areas

A trip to New Mexico isn’t complete without hiking to Wheeler Peak. Within Carson National Forest at 10.200 feet, a trail leads to the top of the tallest peak in New Mexico. The Williams Lake Trail, an 8-mile trek, begins near Taos Ski Valley, passes Williams Lake and features incredible mountain vistas. As you ascend to the summit, you’ll also see the Taos Peaks, created by glaciers 15,000 years ago, the Rio Grande Gorge, and neighboring peaks in Colorado.

The Sandia Mountains and Sandia Mountain Wilderness are one of the most famous mountain ranges in New Mexico, particularly for outdoor recreation. There are two ways to reach the top of the Sandias: Via the Sandia Peak Tramway or the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway. There is a ski resort, the Sandia Peak Ski Area, located on the east side of the mountains, as well as several hiking trails like the La Luz Trail and Crest Trail.

The Santa Fe National Forest covers 1,558,452 acres and ranges from 5,300 feet to 13,107 feet at the summit of Truchas Peak. Arguably some of the best mountain scenery in New Mexico can be found in the 1.6-million-acre Santa Fe National Forest. There are miles of hiking and biking trails to choose from, as well as incredible peaks and alpine scenery. Hiking Santa Fe Baldy, a 14-mile trail, is widely considered the best way to experience the mountains of Santa Fe.

Major Cities and Resorts

Santa Fe

New Mexico’s state capital, Santa Fe, sits within close proximity to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. In addition to world-renowned restaurants and historical museums, Santa Fe is known to be one of the top hiking destinations in the country. In winter months, skiing and snowshoeing are popular pastimes for locals and travelers. Ski Santa Fe, within Santa Fe National Forest, offers 74 trails, 7 lifts, and 660 skiable acres.

Taos

Taos is set within the majestic Rocky Mountains and is home to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in the country. Taos Ski Valley sits within New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle and features 1,294 acres, 110 trails, and 15 lifts. Visitors also appreciate miles of popular hiking trails in the Carson National Forest and Wild Rivers Recreation Area.

Albuquerque

Albuquerque sits a mile above sea level and receives 310 days of sunshine a year, making it the perfect place to explore the outdoors. A variety of trails can be found within the nearby Sandia Mountains and Manzano Mountains. The Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway is a popular way to experience Albuquerque and the surrounding mountain landscape. The Valles Caldera National Preserve, 89,000-acre area within a collapsed crater and the Jemez Mountains are just an hour away.