Scenic Beauty on the Santa Fe Trail

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Photo by Tony Oliver

Breathtaking vistas on the New Mexico Santa Fe Trail is one reason New Mexico is known as the "Land of Enchantment".

While driving along I-25 and sighting Wagon Mound or Hermit Peak in the distance, feel a sense of awe and wonder at how the first travelers on the trail must have felt. Imagine moving ever so slowly in an oxen-driven wagon cresting the pass to look out over the enormous plain filled with huge volcanic mounds. Or seeing one lonely, rounded peak in the distance by which you navigate the wagon train.

Visit the locations below for their scenic beauty or uniqueness on the Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico. And begin to appreciate what the travelers on the trail saw as they carried goods to and from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Select a county below to visit the sites of scenic interest in that area.

| COLFAX COUNTY | MORA COUNTY | SAN MIGUEL COUNTY | | SANTA FE COUNTY | UNION COUNTY |

COLFAX COUNTY

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CANADIAN RIVER CANYON

In the bottom of the Canadian River Canyon are the remains of a stone mansion, cisterns and bunk houses of rancher Melvin W. Mills.

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GOAT HILL OVERLOOK

The overlook offers a superlative panorama of the volcanic peaks 8720' high Sierra Grande, 7761' high Eagle Tail Peak and 7,533' high Red River Peak.

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CIMARRON CANYON STATE PARK

Part of the stunningly beautiful 33,000 acre Colin Neblett Wildlife Area, the Palisades of the Cimarron are a popular photo spot within the canyon.

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MAXWELL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

This 3,270-acre wildlife refuge has a natural alkaline playa lake for Canadian geese and other water fowl.

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OLD RATON PASS/NHL OVERLOOK

The photograph shows the view from the Goat Hill Overlook looking over the city of Raton, New Mexico (below).

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POINT OF ROCKS NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT

Numerous teepee rings, 11 unmarked graves and sweeping views of SFT ruts can be seen here.

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RATON MESAS (BARTLETT, HORSESHOE & JOHNSON)

These discontinuous mesas, sandstone-capped by seven-million-year- old basaltic lava flows, dominate the geography NE, E & SE of Raton

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RATON PASS

The Raton Pass is the highest point on the Santa Fe Trail. Its summit is 7,834 feet above sea level.

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RATON/CLAYTON VOLCANIC FIELD (WEST)

Although they are on private land, the peaks can be seen from the Scenic Byway, (US 64), as well as from Raton especially from Goat Hill Overlook.

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SUGARITE CANYON STATE PARK

The park, near the north end of secluded Sugarite Canyon, contains historic exhibits, lakes, campsites and hiking trails.

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WILLOW SPRINGS OVERLOOK

Breathtaking overlook of the meadowlands between the Canadian River and the Sugarite fomerly compromising the Willow Springs forage station.

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MORA COUNTY

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CHARETTE LAKES

Located in Mora County, Charette Lakes was formed from the center of a volcano. The area offers fishing and camping.

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MORA RIVER TO SAPELLO STRIKE VALLEY VISTA

About 1 mi. S of Sapello, after leaving the strike valleys, are remnants of the Mora-La Cueva Wagon Road that climbs the hill on both sides of NM 518.

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WAGON MOUND

Wagon Mound was named because of its resemblance to a conestoga wagon. The village of Wagon Mound sits at the base.

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SAN MIGUEL COUNTY

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GALLINAS CANYON CAMPGROUND COMPLEX

Santa Fe Trail traveler Giovanni Maria Augustini, an Italian holy man, lived in a cave near its summit from 1863-1866.

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HERMIT PEAK

About halfway between Watrous and Las Vegas, Hermit Peak can be noted in the range of mountains that fill the horizon on the west.

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PECOS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

The 5,660-acre National Historic Park's centerpieces are the ruins of a 14th century Indian pueblo and two 17th century Franciscan missions.

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PECOS RIVER CAMPGROUND COMPLEX

Four public campgrounds at 7,400'-8,300' in elevation with 16 RV campsites at the closest, Field Tract.

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PECOS WILDERNESS

Designated in 1933, this 223,333-acre wilderness cradles the headwaters of the Pecos River.

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SANGRE DE CRISTO MOUNTAINS (NE VIEW)

The coniferous forests, spilling S from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, provided firewood for trail caravans and building materials for settlers.

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STARVATION PEAK (BERNAL)

This 7,042' high butte, visible to motorists on nearby I-25 for some distance, anchors the N end of a small, separate segment of Santa Fe National Forest.

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STORRIE LAKE STATE PARK

This treeless 1,200 acre lake, (established in 1960), a mecca for windsurfers from May through October, attracts water skiers, jet skiers, trout fishermen and RV campers. There are also swimming, boating and winter sports available.

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VILLANUEVA STATE PARK

Hidden among pinon and juniper-studded hills and red and yellow sandstone cliffs, and hugging the cottonwood-shaded east bank of the trout-stocked Pecos River.

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SANTA FE COUNTY

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GLORIETA MESA (ALSO SANTA FE COUNTY)

In March, 1862, a detachment of 400 Union troops traveled W across the mesa top undetected and destroyed the Texan Confederate supply train in Canoncito, ending the nearby Battle of Glorieta Pass.

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GLORIETA PASS

The 7,432' high pass, a 1/2 mi.-wide saddle crested by I-25, is blanketed by Santa Fe National Forest's

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RIO GRANDE RIFT VALLEY

The valley, a vast, irregular structural depression known as a graben, defines the distant landscapes about Santa Fe.

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TESUQUE CAMPGROUND COMPLEX

Public recreation on United State Forest Service Scenic Byway only a few mi. NE of Santa Fe Plaza. Horseback riding, skiing nearby.

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UNION COUNTY

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CAPULIN VOLCANO NATIONAL MONUMENT

Located in Union County, Capulin Volcano National Monument protects and preserves a perfectly symmetrical volcanic crater, an outstanding example of an extinct cinder cone.

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CLAYTON LAKE STATE PARK

Located in Union County, the Clayton Lake State Park offers fishing and camping. Visitors can visit one of the largest areas of preserved dinosaur tracks nearby.

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KIOWA NATIONAL GRASSLANDS

A two-mile section of the SFT Cimarron Route has been preserved here in this largely revegetated national grasslands.

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MOUNT DORA

This National Historic Landmark, part of the Raton/Clayton Volcanic Field was a landmark for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.

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SIERRA GRANDE

A huge, sprawling 8,720' high dormant shield Volcano dominating the Raton/Clayton Volcanic Field. Visible from Raton, New Mexico 35 mi. NW.

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RABBIT EARS MOUNTAIN

These 6,062' high twin volcanic peaks dominate the High Plains landscape for several miles in all directions.

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ROUND MOUND (MT. CLAYTON)

In the 1800's, this singular, irregularly shaped promontory in the high plains ranch country of west Union County, due south of the town of Grenville, NM, was called Round Mound by Santa Fe Trail travelers.

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