Deep and narrow canyons, long and broad mesa tops, heavily forested slopes, and rugged ridges with peaks above timberline characterize the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of the Pecos Wilderness. This small mountain chain comprises the extreme southern extent of the Rocky Mountains, North America's longest mountain chain, which extends north all the way into Canada. On the western side steep canyons drain toward the Rio Grande. In contrast, to the east lies the relatively gentle upper Pecos River Valley, an area of broad flat mesas and grassy meadows. There are restrictions pertaining to camping on most of the lakeshores in order to protect wilderness values. At least 15 of the lakes offer first-rate fishing, as do 150-plus miles of sparkling streams, where rainbow trout, brown trout, and the NM state fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout can all be found. These waters head the Wild and Scenic Pecos River, for which the wilderness is named. The high country elevations range from 8,400 feet to 13,103 feet atop South Truchas Peak, the state's second highest point. The scenery varies from 100-foot-drop waterfalls and crumbled talus slopes to dramatic rock cliffs, towering peaks, and wildflower meadows best caught in July and August. Engelmann spruce, corkbark fir, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, white fir, limber pine, bristlecone pine, and aspen are the predominant timber species. Equally diverse is the wildlife, including elk, deer, bear, turkey, and one of America's healthiest herds of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. The northern section includes about 25,000 acres in Carson National Forest, the least visited portion of the Wilderness. The rest of this large area lies in Santa Fe National Forest, with easy access from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and surrounding towns. Most hikers come during the summer months to explore the extensive system of trails.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Pecos Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
New Mexico Wilderness Act - Public law 96-550 (12/19/1980) To designate certain National Forest System lands in the state of New Mexico for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, and for other purposes