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Santa Fe National Forest

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General Information

Santa Fe National Forest
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Santa Fe National Forest
Description - The Santa Fe National Forest encompasses 1,567,181 acres in two divisions. The diverse topographic and climatic conditions create a wide variety of landforms and plant and animal habitats. East of the Rio Grande, the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains dominate the Pecos Division. These mountains are crowned by the spectacular Pecos Wilderness where 13,101 foot Truchas Peak shares winter snows with other lofty spires.

Attractions - The headwaters of the Pecos River are great scenery, magnificent forests of aspen, pine, fir and spruce, big and small game and many trout streams. Sloping gradually southward, the Pecos Division is some 50 miles long and 25 miles wide. It includes the popular Santa Fe Ski Basin on the west and, farther south, historic Glorieta Pass and the old Santa Fe trail.

Across the Rio Grande to the west lie a cluster of ranges including the Jemez Mountains, which rise to nearly 12,000 feet at the summit of Chicoma Peak, and San Pedro Parks Wilderness. Scattered through these mountains are extensive private holdings and the nuclear research facilities at Los Alamos, several Indian pueblos, and Bandelier National Monument, but most of the land is within the Jemez Division of Santa Fe National Forest. The predominant geographical feature is the volcanic caldera indicated by the Valle Grande and the definite ring of mountains surrounding the valley.

In the Santa Fe, you'll find the headwaters of the Pecos Jemez, and Gallinas Rivers, mountain streams, lakes and trout fishing. The Rio Chama, East Fork of the Jemez, and Pecos River are designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. Scenic drives are State Highways 4, 126, and 96 in the Jemez Mountains; State Highway 63 up the Pecos River to Cowles; Gallinas Canyon west of Las Vegas; or up to the Santa Fe Ski Area out of Santa Fe. Cultural attractions of this area include Indian Pueblos which can be visited, Indian ruins, and Spanish missions.

The Santa Fe National Forest encompasses four wilderness areas. The Pecos Wilderness, which contains 223,333 acres, lies at the southern end of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains, at the headwaters of the Pecos River. The San Pedro Parks Wilderness covers 41,132-acres of a high, moist plateau of rolling mountaintops with alternating areas of dense spruce and open mountain meadows. The 50,300-acre Chama River Wilderness includes a 6-mile Wild and Scenic segment of the Chama River with the many-hued sandstone bluffs rising to high rims on both sides. The Dome Wilderness is only 5,200 acres but is situated adjacent to Bandelier Wilderness in Bandelier National Monument and area provides a continuous expanse of primitive canyon-land environments similar to those found within the National Monument.

Recreation - The magnificent mountain scenery and cool high elevation summer temperatures lure vacationers to enjoy the peace and quiet for camping, horseback riding, pack trips, river rafting, lake or stream trout fishing, and elk, deer, or turkey hunting. Winter activities include downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

The Santa Fe has campgrounds scattered throughout the Forest. For those who want to get away, the Santa Fe provides opportunities for dispersed car camping and backcountry camping as well.

Whitewater rafting on the Rio Chama is good from May through September. Santa Fe Ski Basin offers some great downhill skiing and snowboarding.

Climate - The day to night temperature change is extreme, especially above 7,000 feet. Even in summer, nights are cool to cold depending on elevation. You'll find snow at timberline until June. Expect frequent afternoon showers in July and August. Winter brings heavy snows to the higher elevations and temperatures can dip below zero. Sunny days are common however, even in the winter, with temperatures reaching into the 30's and 40's.

Location - The Santa Fe National Forest is located in Northern New Mexico, around the communities of Santa Fe, Espanola, Cuba and Las Vegas, New Mexico. The Rio Chama runs along the northwest end of the Forest and the Rio Grande splits the Forest from north to south. Interstate 25, U.S. Highway 84, and State Highways 4 and 96 all run through portions of the Santa Fe National Forest.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Santa Fe National Forest, 1220 St. Francis Drive , Santa Fe, NM, 87504, Phone: 505-438-7840

Additional Information:
Santa Fe, NM -

Santa Fe National Forest - Official agency website.


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