Year Established:1980

Size:44,650 acres


The Apache Kid, an Indian who raised the anger of local ranchers with his raids, was hunted down and killed here. A tree was blazed at the site of the Kid’s undoing, a blaze still visible today. This terrain in the southern San Mateo Mountains is extremely rugged with many narrow and steep canyons bisecting high mountain peaks. Elevations rise to over 10,000 feet and the vegetation is typical of this region of New Mexico: pinyon-juniper woodlands lower down, spruce and fir and aspen higher up, ponderosa pine in between. The wildlife diversity finds few equals within the state in diversity: Coue’s white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, black bear, bobcat, cougar, antelope, javelina, coyote, rabbit, squirrel, quail and turkey to name some of the more common animals.

You’ll find the area not easily hiked if you wander off the 68-mile-long trail system, and at least one-third of the system is poorly maintained. The main trail runs along the crest of the mountains for about 13 miles, offering many excellent views and a chance to find the Kid’s gravesite. Water is limited to less than a dozen semi-dependable springs. Most of the springs and small streams dry up in summer to fill periodically during July and August rains. Human visitors are few.

Location: West-central New Mexico.

Easiest Access: From Truth or Consequences, NM, take Interstate 25 north approximately 14 miles; take Exit 89 and the frontage road north for approximately four miles; turn west on Forest Service Road 139 and follow the road about 17 miles to Springtime Campground and the crest trailhead.

Maps: A Wilderness map is available for four dollars from the district ranger.

Andrew Mytys

The author Andrew Mytys

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