There are a couple of different types of mountains in New Mexico. In the northern part of the state where New Mexico borders Colorado there are mountains that are part of the Rocky Mountain chain. But in the rest of the state are mountains that were created when glaciers moved through the area carving out large caverns and deep rivers.
Those glaciers were responsible for creating one of New Mexico’s most famous features, the Carlsbad Caverns. New Mexico is the only state where four states converge at one spot. In the northwest part of the state there is one spot where Utah, Arizona, and Colorado all touch New Mexico.
10 Mountains In New Mexico
New Mexico is called the “Land of Enchantment” because it has so much stunning natural beauty. And the mountains in New Mexico make up a large part of that enchantment. Most of the mountains in New Mexico have unobstructed views of the gorgeous deserts, sheer cliffs, and ever-changing colors that the state is known for. Some of the best views you’ll get in New Mexico are on these mountains:
Located in: Taos County
Height: 13,167 feet
Nearby City: Taos
Known For: Wheeler Peak is the tallest mountain in New Mexico. It sits just a few miles away from the Taos Ski Valley and it’s at the very southern edge of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, which are a sub range of the Rocky Mountains. Wheeler Peak is a very popular hiking destination because it’s a relatively easy hike to the top with lots of interesting things to see.
One of the most fun things you’ll see hiking up Wheeler Peak is a lot of bighorn sheep, which live on the mountain. The two primary trails to the summit of Wheeler Peak are the Bull of the Woods Trail and the Williams Lake Trail.
The Bull of The Woods Trail is a better choice for less experienced hikers. It’s longer than the Williams Lake Trail but it doesn’t have the sharp ascent that the Williams Lake Trail has. If you’re an experienced hiker that loves a challenge try the Williams Lake Trail which has a sheer scramble to the peak.
Located in: Pecos Wilderness
Height: 13,107 feet
Nearby City: Santa Fe
Known For: Truchas Peak is the second tallest mountain in New Mexico. The Truchas Peak sits between the Rio Grande and Pecos River so the views from the summit are fantastic. You can look out over the Pecos Wilderness and the edge of the Carson National Forest as well as getting a bird’s eye view of those two famous rivers.
If you’re going to hike Truchas Peak plan on a few days of camping. The Truchas Peak Loop trail is almost 30 miles and most people take two or three to complete it so that they don’t have to rush. There is excellent bird watching and camping near and on the mountain so you should take your time on this trail and really enjoy it. Just make sure you have a good GPS because the trail is not well marked and you need to have a GPS with you to make sure you’re on the trail.
Located in: Carson National Forest
Height: 12,840 feet
Nearby City: Tres Ritos
Known For: Jicarita Peak is not far from Truchas Peak. In fact, from the summit of Jicarita Peak you can see Truchas Peak. Jicarita Peak is great for hikers and trail runners that want to spend some time off the beaten path. It’s not a tourist-friendly mountain so the hikers and trail runners you’ll meet on Jircarita Peak are serious about their hiking and running although the trail itself is not difficult.
If you’re a beginner hiker Jicarita Peak is a good mountain to hike to get acclimated to climbing higher elevations. There is also fantastic camping in the Carson National Forest nearby. Horseback riding is also allowed in the national forest and on the mountain trails if you like trail riding with your horse.
The weather on Jicarita Peak is generally good for climbing as long as you attempt to climb between June and November. There is often snow on the peak until early June and winter sets in by the end of November.
Located in: Cibola National Forest
Height: 11,306 feet
Nearby City: Grants
Known For: Mount Taylor is an extinct volcano that sits right on the edge of Cibola National Forest. But the area around the mountain is all desert, so the view from the summit, which is craggy rock, is stunning. You will get a panoramic view of the desert that stretches for miles. This mountain is considered sacred to the Navajo Native American tribe and was home to pueblo dwelling Native Americans in the past.
Even though this mountain isn’t particularly challenging to hike it can be a struggle for beginners to adjust to the altitude after a very rapid elevation change that occurs early in the summit trail. Mount Taylor is also home to a famous endurance race that is run each year. Participants in the race engage in a combination of bicycling, running, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for more than 40 miles. The starting point is in Grants, and the route goes to the summit of Mount Taylor and back to Grants.
Located in: Capitan National Forest
Height: 10,086 feet
Nearby City: Capitan
Known For: Capitan Peak is one of the most unique mountains in New Mexico because it runs east to west rather than north to south like most of the mountains in New Mexico. It’s also one of the rockiest peaks in the state. Many people come to climb Capitan Peak to practice their rock climbing skills before they take on bigger and harder climbing challenges. Seasoned climbers also climb Capitan Peak in the off season to keep their skills sharp.
The Capitan National Forest area surrounding the mountain is a fantastic place for a family vacation. There are lots of campsites near the mountain which make hiking convenient and there are hiking and horseback riding trails all throughout the forest itself.
Located in: Dona Ana County
Nearby City: White Sands
Known For: Organ Needle is part of the Organ Mountains. These mountains in New Mexico are in the southern part of the state and they are very different in composition from the more traditional mountains in the north near the border with Colorado and Utah. The Organ Mountains are made up of a series of thin jagged rocky summits of varying heights. From a distance the summits of the Organ Mountains look like the pipes on a pipe organ, which is how they got their name. The tallest peak of the Organ Mountains is Organ Needle.
Organ Needle is a very popular hiking and rock climbing destination. It’s located not that far from the White Sands Missile Range and other military bases in the area so often you can find military members and their families hiking and running on the mountain.
There are a few worn trails to the summit because of all the people who hike this mountain but to get to the summit you’ll need to bushwhack through part of the mountain and you will be rock scrambling to get to the summit. It’s a good idea to bring a rope and some rock climbing tools if you’re not a confident free climber.
Sierra Blanca Peak
Located in: White Mountain Wilderness Area
Height: 11,977 feet
Nearby City: Ruidoso
Known For: Sierra Blanca Peak is the tallest mountain in the Sierra Blanca mountains in New Mexico. This mountain range in southern New Mexico is only about 40 miles long but the mountains, which are made from volcanic rock, tower over the desert landscape. One of the coolest things about Sierra Blanca Peak is that it has a snow cap well into June. It’s pretty amazing to look up from the sweltering heat of the desert floor to see a cool snow capped mountain rising out of the desert sand.
Seeing the views of the desert from the snow-capped peak can be tricky though. Even though Sierra Blanca Peak is not that far from Ski Apache, a nearby ski resort, and it’s possible to approach the peak from a trail that begins on the Ski Apache land hiking on Sierra Blanca Peak requires permission. Technically the mountain sits on Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation and you need a permit from the Native Americans who govern on the Reservation in order to hike on the mountain.
Located in: Gila Wilderness
Height: 10,899 feet
Nearby City: Glenwood
Known For: Whitewater Baldy is another volcanic mountain in New Mexico. Estimates are that the volcanic rock that makes up the mountain was formed by eruptions that occurred more than 25 million years ago. Whitewater Baldy is one of the most heavily forested mountains in New Mexico. If you’re hiking up this popular mountain you may need to bushwhack through some of the dense forest.
There are two primary cleared trails that will take you to the summit. One of the trails is from the east side of the mountain that lies in the Gila National Wilderness and the other is the Crest Trail on the western side of the mountain. Remember that even though the mountain has a lot of trees for shade it’s still in New Mexico and it can get very warm. Bring appropriate clothing and plenty of water.
Located in: Santa Fe National Forest
Height: 11,562 feet
Nearby City: Espanola
Known For: Chicoma Mountain is part of the Jemez Mountain subrange of mountains in New Mexico. It is a volcanic mountain that sits on the edge of one of the most impressive calderas in the United States. The caldera formed when the ancient volcano that formed the mountain collapsed along with several others near it.
The Native Pueblo people who were the original settles of New Mexico consider Chicoma to be sacred. They also think that the caldera is sits on to the be center of all things. A good portion of the mountain sits in the Santa Clara Pueblo so access to the mountain peak is limited. The peak is heavily forested and has a dense tree line. The tree line is much higher than the tree lines on any other peaks in New Mexico.
Santa Fe Baldy
Located in: Pecos Wilderness
Height: 12,631 feet
Nearby City: Santa Fe
Known For: Santa Fe Baldy is one of the tallest mountains in New Mexico. It sits not that from the large city of Santa Fe and it’s a very popular camping and hiking spot. There are trees almost all the way up the mountain. They go to about 600 feet from the very top of the peak. But despite the heavy forests it’s a relatively easy and fun hike. Lots of people like to spend a weekend camping near Santa Fe Baldy so they can hike the summit. But, you should also hike some of the fun side trails that go around the mountain and extend out through the Pecos Wilderness below the mountain.
10 Tallest Mountains In New Mexico
- Wheeler Peak
- Truchas Peak
- Venado Peak
- Gold Hill
- Santa Fe Baldy
- Little Costilla Peak
- Baldy Mountain
- Sierra Blanca Peak
- Cerro Vista
- Mount Phillips
Highest Point In New Mexico
Wheeler Peak 13,167 feet
Summary of 10 Magical Mountains In New Mexico
|7||Sierra Blanca Peak|
|10||Santa Fe Baldy|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Rosemary Woller/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the highest point in New Mexico?
Wheeler Peak, at 13,167 feet, is the highest point in New Mexico?
What four states converge at the same point?
New Mexico is the only state where four states converge at one spot. In the northwest part of the state there is one spot where Utah, Arizona, and Colorado all touch New Mexico.
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