Wheeler Peak (New Mexico)

Last updated
Wheeler Peak
Wheeler Peak, NM.JPG
Wheeler Peak
Highest point
Elevation 13,167 ft (4,013 m)  NAVD 88 [1]
Prominence 3,409 ft (1,039 m) [2]
Parent peak Vermejo Peak
Coordinates 36°33′25″N105°25′01″W / 36.556855136°N 105.416947028°W / 36.556855136; -105.416947028 Coordinates: 36°33′25″N105°25′01″W / 36.556855136°N 105.416947028°W / 36.556855136; -105.416947028 [1]
USA New Mexico location map.svg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Wheeler Peak
Location Taos County, New Mexico, U.S.
Parent range Taos Mountains
Topo map USGS Wheeler Peak
Easiest route Williams Lake
Wheeler Peak and surrounding peaks, viewed from Eagle Nest, New Mexico Wheeler Peak from Eagle Nest, New Mexico.jpg
Wheeler Peak and surrounding peaks, viewed from Eagle Nest, New Mexico

Wheeler Peak is the highest natural point in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is located northeast of Taos and south of Red River in the northern part of the state, and just 2 miles (3.2 km) southeast of the ski slopes of Taos Ski Valley. It lies in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. The peak's elevation is 13,167 feet (4,013 m).


Formerly named Taos Peak, after the nearby town of Taos, New Mexico, it was renamed Wheeler Peak in 1950. [3] A plaque at the summit states that the mountain was:

Named in honor of Major George Montague Wheeler (1832–1909) who for ten years led a party of surveyors and naturalists collecting geologic, biologic, planimetric and topographic data in New Mexico and six other southwestern states.

Nearby peaks and features

Just north of Wheeler Peak is Mount Walter. At 13,141 feet (4,005 m) it is the second highest named summit in New Mexico, but it is not usually considered an independent peak as it has only about 53 feet (16 m) of topographic prominence. It is sometimes mistaken for Wheeler Peak, since it is along the standard route to Wheeler. Lake Fork Peak at 12,881 feet (3,926 m) lies just across Williams Lake and to the west of Wheeler Mountain.

Taos Ski Valley lies to the northwest of Wheeler Peak, while both the town of Taos and Taos Pueblo are about 15 miles (24 km) to the southwest.

Wheeler Peak is the focus of the 19,661-acre (79.57 km2) Wheeler Peak Wilderness area in the Carson National Forest. Much of the mountain area just south of the peak is on Taos Pueblo land. Some 48,000 acres (190 km2) was returned to the pueblo from the Carson National Forest in 1970 [4] and another 764 acres (3.09 km2) in 1996. [5]


The standard route on Wheeler Peak is along the north ridge. The route starts at the parking lot for Taos Ski Valley, and proceeds east along an old road to a broad saddle at Bull-of-the-Woods Meadow. It then turns south and winds its way among minor peaks and small valleys to gain Wheeler Peak from the north, going over the summit of Mount Walter along the way. This is a practical route, even in winter, due to low (but nonzero) avalanche exposure.

An alternate route is to hike south from Taos Ski Valley to Williams Lake, then take a newly constructed switchback trail to the top. This trail was completed in 2011 by a Forest Service trail crew from the Gallatin National Forest, 8 people working 12 hours per day, building 4 miles of new trail with hand tools to the top in 14 days.

Another alternate route is to begin from the nearby ski resort of Red River. From the town of Red River drive 6.4 miles south on NM 578, then 1.3 miles on FR 58 to the trailhead parking area. From the parking area Wheeler peak is about 7 miles on Forest Trail 91. This route passes two alpine lakes, Lost Lake and Horseshoe Lake.

Wheeler Peak has a summit register as do many major western peaks.

Wheeler Peak NM Panorama.JPG
Panorama from Wheeler Peak

See also

Related Research Articles

Sandia Mountains

The Sandia Mountains, are a mountain range located in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, immediately to the east of the city of Albuquerque in New Mexico in the southwestern United States. The mountains are just due south of the southern terminus of the Rocky Mountains, and are part of the Sandia–Manzano Mountains. This is largely within the Cibola National Forest and protected as the Sandia Mountain Wilderness. The highest point is Sandia Crest, 10,678 feet (3,255 m).

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. They are located in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the United States. The mountains run from Poncha Pass in South-Central Colorado, trending southeast and south, ending at Glorieta Pass, southeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The mountains contain a number of fourteen thousand foot peaks in the Colorado portion, as well as all the peaks in New Mexico which are over thirteen thousand feet.

White Mountain National Forest

The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) is a federally managed forest contained within the White Mountains in the northeastern United States. It was established in 1918 as a result of the Weeks Act of 1911; federal acquisition of land had already begun in 1914. It has a total area of 750,852 acres (303,859 ha). Most of the WMNF is in New Hampshire; a small part is in the neighboring state of Maine. While often casually referred to as a park, this is a national forest, used not only for hiking, camping, and skiing but for logging and other limited commercial purposes. The WMNF is the only national forest located in either New Hampshire or Maine, and is the most eastern national forest in the United States. Most of the major peaks over 4,000 feet high for peak-bagging in New Hampshire are located in the national forest. Over 100 miles (160 km) of the Appalachian Trail traverses the White Mountain National Forest. In descending order of land area the forest lies in parts of Grafton, Coos, and Carroll counties in New Hampshire, and Oxford County in Maine.

Hunter Mountain (New York) Highest mountain in Greene County, New York, and second highest in the Catskills

Hunter Mountain is in the towns of Hunter and Lexington, just south of the village of Hunter, in Greene County, New York, United States. At approximately 4,040 feet (1,231 m) in elevation, it is the highest peak in the county and the second-highest peak in the Catskill Mountains.

Whiteface Mountain

Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in the U.S. state of New York, and one of the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Set apart from most of the other High Peaks, the summit offers a 360-degree view of the Adirondacks and clear-day glimpses of Vermont and even Canada, where the skyscrapers of Montreal, 80 miles (130 km) away, can be seen on a very clear day. Located in the town of Wilmington, about 13 miles (21 km) from Lake Placid, the mountain's east slope is home to a major ski area which hosted the alpine skiing competitions of the 1980 Winter Olympics. Unique among the High Peaks, Whiteface features a developed summit and seasonal accessibility by motor vehicle. Whiteface Memorial Highway reaches a parking area at an elevation of 4,600 feet (1,400 m), with the remaining 267 feet (81 m) being obtained by tunnel and elevator.

Granite Chief Wilderness

The Granite Chief Wilderness is a 19,048 acre (77 km2) federally designated wilderness area of the Tahoe National Forest. Created by the California Wilderness Act of 1984, it is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains west of Lake Tahoe in California, USA. It is managed by the US Forest Service Tahoe National Forest. Elevations range from 4,800 feet (1,500 m) to 9,019 feet (2,749 m) at the summit of Granite Chief.

Slide Mountain (Ulster County, New York) Highest peak of New Yorks Catskill Mountains

Slide Mountain is the highest peak in the Catskill Mountains of the U.S. state of New York. It is located in the town of Shandaken in Ulster County. While the 4,180-foot (1,270 m) contour line on topographic maps is generally accepted as its height, the exact elevation of the summit has never been officially determined by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, and many informal surveys suggest the mountain may actually top 4,200 feet above sea level.

Mount Pinos

Mount Pinos is a mountain located in the Los Padres National Forest on the boundary between Ventura and Kern counties in California. The summit, at 8,847 feet (2,697 m), is the highest point in Ventura County. The mountain is the highest point of the Transverse Ranges west of Tejon Pass, as well as the southernmost point of the Salinian Block.

Carson National Forest

Carson National Forest is a national forest in northern New Mexico, United States. It encompasses 6,070 square kilometers and is administered by the United States Forest Service. The Forest Service's "mixed use" policy allows for its use for recreation, grazing, and resource extraction.

Mount Sunapee

Mount Sunapee is a 5-mile-long (8.0 km) mountain ridge in the towns of Newbury and Goshen in western New Hampshire, United States. Its highest peak, at the north end of the mountain, is 2,726 feet (831 m) above sea level. The mountain has three secondary peaks, White Ledges at 2,716 ft (828 m); North Peak at 2,280 ft (695 m); and South Peak at 2,608 ft (795 m). The north end of the mountain, including the summit, is within Mount Sunapee State Park, which encompasses 3.85 square miles (10.0 km2) and is home to the popular Mount Sunapee Resort. The mountain extends south to Pillsbury State Park in the towns of Goshen and Washington.

Kaaterskill High Peak

Kaaterskill High Peak is one of the Catskill Mountains, located in the Town of Hunter in Greene County, New York, United States. It was once believed to be the highest peak in the entire range, but its summit, at 3,655 feet in elevation, places it only 23rd among the Catskill High Peaks. It is, however, the fourth most prominent peak in the range. Due to its situation as the easternmost High Peak, its summit is just outside the watersheds of New York City's reservoirs in the region.

Wildcat Mountain (New Hampshire)

Wildcat Mountain is a mountain located in Coos County, northern New Hampshire, United States. The mountain is part of the Carter-Moriah Range of the White Mountains, on the east side of Pinkham Notch. Wildcat Mountain faces Carter Dome across Carter Notch to the northeast, and Mount Washington across Pinkham Notch to the west.

Venado Peak

Venado Peak is one of the major peaks of the Taos Mountains group of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a subrange of the Rocky Mountains. It is located in Taos County, New Mexico, about 8 miles (13 km) northeast of the town of Questa. Its summit is the highest point in the Latir Peak Wilderness, part of Carson National Forest. The peak's name means "deer" in Spanish.

High Peaks Wilderness Area

The High Peaks Wilderness Area, the largest Forest Preserve unit in the U.S. state of New York, is located in three counties and six towns in the Adirondack Park: Harrietstown in Franklin County, North Elba, Keene, North Hudson and Newcomb in Essex County and Long Lake in Hamilton County.

Balsam Mountain (Ulster County, New York) 28th highest peak of Catskill Mountains

Balsam Mountain is one of the High Peaks of the Catskill Mountains in the U.S. state of New York. Its exact height has not been determined, so the highest contour line, 3,600 feet (1,100 m), is usually given as its elevation. It is located in western Ulster County, on the divide between the Hudson and Delaware watersheds. The summit and western slopes of the peak are within the Town of Hardenburgh and its eastern slopes are in Shandaken. The small community of Oliverea is near its base on that side. Most of the mountain is publicly owned, managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as part of the state Forest Preserve, part of the Big Indian-Beaverkill Range Wilderness Area in the Catskill Park. The summit is on a small corner of private land.

Brace Mountain

Brace Mountain is the peak of a ridge in the southern Taconic Mountains, near the tripoint of the U.S. states of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Its 2,311-foot (704 m) main summit is located in New York; it is the highest point in that state's Dutchess County.

Dinkey Lakes Wilderness

The Dinkey Lakes Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area located 45 miles (72 km) northeast of Fresno, in the state of California, USA. It comprises 30,000 acres (12,141 ha) within the Sierra National Forest and was added to the National Wilderness Preservation System by the California Wilderness Act of 1984.

Mount Shasta Wilderness

The Mount Shasta Wilderness is a 38,200-acre (155 km2) federally designated wilderness area located 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Mount Shasta City in northern California. The US Congress passed the 1984 California Wilderness Act that set aside the Mount Shasta Wilderness. The US Forest Service is the managing agency as the wilderness is within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The area is named for and is dominated by the Mount Shasta volcano which reaches a traditionally quoted height of 14,162 feet (4,317 m) above sea level, but official sources give values ranging from 14,104 feet (4,299 m) from one USGS project, to 14,179 feet (4,322 m) via the NOAA. Mount Shasta is one of only two peaks in the state over 14,000 feet (4,300 m) outside the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The other summit is White Mountain Peak in the Great Basin of east-central California.

White Mountain Wilderness

The White Mountain Wilderness is a protected wilderness area within the Lincoln National Forest, Smokey Bear Ranger District. The White Mountain Wilderness is located in the Sierra Blanca mountains of south central New Mexico, approximately 15 miles (24 km) north northwest of the town of Ruidoso.

The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is a New Mexico Scenic Byway and National Forest Scenic Byway located in Northern New Mexico. It begins and ends in Taos, New Mexico.


  1. 1 2 "Wheeler". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey.
  2. "Wheeler Peak, New Mexico". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
  3. "Wheeler Peak". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey . Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  4. Julyan, Bob; Tom Till (1999). New Mexico's Wilderness Areas: The Complete Guide. Westcliffe Publishers. p. 73. ISBN   1-56579-291-2.
  5. "Public Law 104-333" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-03-24.