Sangre de Cristo Mountains
|Sangre de Cristo Mountains|
|Peak||Blanca Peak (East of Alamosa, Colorado)|
|Elevation||14,351 ft (4,374 m)|
|Length||242 mi (389 km) north-south|
|Width||120 mi (190 km) east-west|
|Area||17,193 sq mi (44,530 km2)|
|Etymology||Sangre de Cristo (Spanish: Blood of Christ)|
|States||Colorado and New Mexico|
|Parent range||Rocky Mountains|
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Spanish for "Blood of Christ") 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.
The name of the mountains may refer to the occasional reddish hues observed during sunrise and sunset, and when alpenglow occurs, especially when the mountains are covered with snow. Although the particular origin of the name is unclear, it has been in use since the early 19th century. Before that time the terms "La Sierra Nevada", "La Sierra Madre", "La Sierra", and "The Snowies" (used by English speakers) were used. Sometimes the archaic Spanish spelling "Christo" is used.
Land management and recreation overview
Much of the mountains are within various National Forests: the Rio Grande and San Isabel in Colorado, and the Carson and Santa Fe in New Mexico. These publicly accessible areas are popular for hunting, camping, hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, climbing, and cross-country and downhill skiing.
The mountains include two large wilderness areas, the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness in Colorado and the Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico, as well as some smaller wilderness areas, such as Latir Peak Wilderness. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve lies on the southwest side of the mountains in Colorado.
Subranges and prominent peaks
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are divided into various subranges, described here from north to south. Use of the terms "Sangre de Cristo Range" and "Sangre de Cristo Mountains" is inconsistent and either may refer to either the northernmost subrange, the southernmost subrange, or the mountains as a whole.
Sangre de Cristo Range
The Sangre de Cristo Range, the largest and most northerly subrange of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, runs directly along the east side of the Rio Grande Rift, extending southeast from Poncha Pass for about 75 miles (120 km) through south-central Colorado to La Veta Pass, approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of Walsenburg. They form a high ridge separating the San Luis Valley on the west from the watershed of the Arkansas River on the east.
The Spanish Peaks are a pair of volcanic mountains, West Spanish Peak and East Spanish Peak, located in southwestern Huerfano County, Colorado., the Spanish Peaks were designated a National Natural Landmark in 1976 as one of the best known examples of igneous dikes. The mountains can be seen as far north as Colorado Springs (133 miles), as far west as Alamosa (85 miles), points south to Raton, New Mexico (65 miles), and points east of Trinidad (up to 15 miles).
The Culebra Range runs almost due north and south, with its northern limit at La Veta Pass in Colorado, and its southern limit at Costilla Creek, just south of Big Costilla Peak in New Mexico. Its highest point is Culebra Peak (14,047 feet/4,282 m), which is notable for being the only fourteener in Colorado which is on private land. Climbers wishing to ascend Culebra must pay a fee (currently US$100 per person), and the number of climbers per year is limited. Standing to the east of the main crest are the two prominent Spanish Peaks (West: 13,626 feet/4,153 m; East: 12,860 feet/3,920 m). Unlike the rest of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, these are volcanic, with conical shapes and prominent dikes radiating outward. These peaks were important landmarks on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail.
The Taos Mountains span the western lobe of the range from Costilla Creek in the north, to Tres Ritos in the south. They include the highest point in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak 13,161 feet (4,011 m), which is part of the small Wheeler Peak Wilderness. Other notable peaks include Pueblo Peak 12,305 feet (3,751 m), which rises dramatically above Taos Pueblo, and Latir Peak 12,708 feet (3,873 m). Williams Lake is located below Wheeler Peak in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness.
The southern portion of the Taos Mountains, between Palo Flechado Pass and Tres Ritos (US Route 64 and NM Route 518), is lower and less dramatic than the northern section, with its high point being Cerro Vista, 11,939 ft (3,639 m). The Fernando Mountains are a small subrange lying in this section, just south of US Route 64.
The Cimarron Range lies across the Moreno Valley to the east of the Taos Mountains. It is a lower range, with its highest point being Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet/3,792 m). The Philmont Scout Ranch lies on the east side of the Cimarron Range.
This is a minor subrange, significantly lower than the rest of the Sangre de Cristos; it lies east of the southernmost portion of the Taos Mountains.
Santa Fe Mountains
Rounding out the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the Santa Fe Mountains, which include all peaks south of NM Route 518. This group lies near Santa Fe and surrounds the Pecos Wilderness, which protects the source watershed of the Pecos River. The peaks include Truchas Peak (13,102 feet/3,994 m) as their highest point. Other notable peaks are Santa Fe Baldy (12,622 feet/3,847 m) and Jicarita Peak (12,835 feet/3,912 m). The Pecos Wilderness is crossed by many trails and is popular for backpacking and for fishing in its high alpine lakes.
|1||Blanca Peak||Sierra Blanca||!B9916165414218 14,351 ft
|!B9926077435655 5,326 ft
|!B9879776699204 103 mi
|Blanca Peak in Colorado is the highest peak of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.|
|2||Crestone Peak||Crestones||!B9916201002402 14,300 ft
|!B9927643383526 4,554 ft
|!B9893064654421 27 mi
|Crestone Peak is rock scrambles (Class 3) with some exposure and significant rockfall danger. (Image: Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle seen from the south)|
|3||Culebra Peak||Culebra Range||!B9916375289183 14,053 ft
|!B9927061187476 4,827 ft
|!B9890479661364 35 mi
|(Image: Big Costilla Peak in the Culebra Range, viewed from Valle Vidal.)|
|4||West Spanish Peak||Spanish Peaks||!B9916680109961 13,631 ft
|!B9929760736505 3,685 ft
|!B9895993801508 20 mi
|(Image: West Spanish Peak taken from the south)|
|5||Mount Herard PB||Sangre de Cristo Range||!B9916906736453 13,325 ft
|!B9935673943683 2,040 ft
|!B9910813497218 4.6 mi
|(Image: Sangre de Cristo range from the Great Sand Dunes National Park)|
|6||Wheeler Peak NGS||Taos Mountains||!B9917026308754 13,167 ft
|!B9930539253755 3,409 ft
|!B9889959021561 37 mi
|Wheeler Peak, of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness, is the highest peak in New Mexico. Taos Ski Valley lies just to the west of Wheeler Peak. Much of the central portion of the Taos Mountains are on Taos Pueblo land. As viewed from Taos, they are locally called "Taos Mountain."|
|7||Bushnell Peak PB||Sangre de Cristo Range||!B9917069155755 13,111 ft
|!B9934027942726 2,405 ft
|!B9902119232989 11 mi
|8||Truchas Peak NGS||Santa Fe Mountains PB||!B9917071891268 13,107 ft
|!B9928937996823 4,001 ft
|!B9888702401356 42 mi
|Truchas Peak is the highest point in the Santa Fe Mountains. (Image: Truchas Peak in winter from Española, New Mexico)|
|9||Venado Peak||Taos Mountains||!B9917356436236 12,739 ft
|!B9931971842142 2,954 ft
|!B9901483321961 12 mi
|(Image: Taos Mountain at sunset.)|
|10||East Spanish Peak||Spanish Peaks||!B9917397266607 12,688 ft
|!B9934119845287 2,383 ft
|!B9911782676190 4.2 mi
|East Spanish Peak is the lower of the two Spanish Peaks, two large igneous stocks which form an eastern outlier of the Culebra Range, a subrange of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. (Image: Spanish Peaks as seen from I25, Huerfano county, Colorado)|
|11||Santa Fe Baldy NGS||Santa Fe Mountains PB||!B9917441455990 12,632 ft
|!B9935861968397 2,002 ft
|!B9902192452128 11 mi
|Santa Fe Baldy is a prominent summit in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, located 15 mi (24 km) northeast of Santa Fe. It is prominent as seen from Los Alamos and communities along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico, but is relatively inconspicuous from Santa Fe, as its north-south trending main ridge line is seen nearly end-on, disguising the size of the mountain. Santa Fe Baldy lies in the Pecos Wilderness within the Santa Fe National Forest, on the water divide between the Rio Grande and the Pecos River.|
|12||Baldy Mountain NGS||Cimarron Range||!B9917590083683 12,445 ft
|!B9932867218584 2,701 ft
|!B9901886277363 11 mi
|(Image: Baldy Peak summit ridge in the Cimarron Range.)|
|13||Greenhorn Mountain NGS||Wet Mountains||!B9917664968597 12,352 ft
|!B9929514137850 3,777 ft
|!B9893420350117 26 mi
|Greenhorn Mountain is the highest point in the Wet Mountains of southern Colorado, just high enough to pass tree line which is about 11,500 feet (3,500 m) in this part of Colorado. The massive mountain can be seen from Pueblo and all along Interstate 25. The mountain is protected within the secluded Greenhorn Mountain Wilderness Area but is accessed by a few trails and a nearby 4-wheel drive road to the north.|
|14||Mount Zwischen PB||Sangre de Cristo Range||!B9917945329706 12,011 ft
|!B9934623277240 2,266 ft
|!B9911030014472 4.5 mi
|15||Cerro Vista PB||Cerro Vista PB||!B9918001379700 11,944 ft
|!B9933564824393 2,519 ft
|!B9899641692604 14 mi
|16||Mount Phillips PB||Cimarron Range||!B9918168861105 11,745 ft
|!B9932084179281 2,921 ft
|!B9905998660563 8 mi
|Mount Phillips, formerly called Clear Creek Mountain, is located in Colfax County about 11 mi (17 km) south of Baldy Mountain in the Cimarron Range, a subrange of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. The peak was renamed in 1960 in honor of Waite Phillips, who donated the area to the Boy Scouts of America. (Image: Mount Phillips (tallest mountain, at center) seen from Baldy Mountain)|
|17||Mount Mestas PB||Sierra Blanca||!B9918316261175 11,574 ft
|!B9934787914161 2,229 ft
|!B9898234365274 16 mi
|18||Iron Mountain PB||Sierra Blanca||!B9918453535291 11,416 ft
|!B9936120017782 1,951 ft
|!B9906781182532 7 mi
- Robert Julyan, The Place Names of New Mexico, University of New Mexico Press, 1998.
- Chronic, Halka (1998). Roadside Geology of Colorado. Mountain Press Publishing Company. p. 36. ISBN 0-87842-105-X.
- "National Registry of Natural Landmarks". National Park Service. June 2009.
- Butterfield, Mike, and Greene, Peter, Mike Butterfield's Guide to the Mountains of New Mexico, New Mexico Magazine Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-937206-88-1
- Some sources only include the region north of Palo Flechado Pass in the Taos Mountains; however they do not give a specific subrange name to the entire southern portion. See for example the 1:250,000 scale USGS maps.
- The elevation of this summit has been converted from the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD 29) to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88). National Geodetic Survey
- The summit of Wheeler Peak is the highest point of the State of New Mexico.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sangre de Cristo Mountains.|
- Sangre de Cristo Mountains @ Peakbagger
- List of the 13-ers in Sangre de Cristo
- NPS—TwHP: “Glorieta and Raton Passes: Gateways to the Southwest” — a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan.