The Sangre de Cristos near Taos boast the tallest peaks in New Mexico!
The town of Taos, New Mexico, lies between the Rio Grande to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east in an arid high desert landscape. If you drive just a few miles into the mountains, the environment quickly changes. You'll soon exchange sagebrush for aspen trees and towering pines, the cacti-filled desert for rushing mountain streams and verdant alpine meadows. The dichotomy is staggering to behold!
Highway 150 is a dead-end road that leads from the town of Taos to Taos Ski Valley—a ski resort on the flanks of Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in the state of New Mexico. Soaring to a height of 13,161 feet above sea level, Wheeler towers over the surrounding landscape, affording incredible 360-degree views of Northern New Mexico, and beyond to nearby Colorado. The state's highpoint is naturally an eminently popular peak hiking objective, with crowds heading to the summit every day of the week.
If you want to avoid the crowds, several nearby summits rise well above treeline, but with a fraction of the traffic. Two of the best alternative options are Gold Hill and Lobo Peak.
Gold Hill is the closest of the two to Wheeler. Measuring in at 12,716 feet, this beautiful summit is only a few hundred feet shy of Wheeler and yet sees just a fraction of the traffic.
For an even less-trafficked option and one that requires less driving from Taos, try out Lobo Peak instead. The trailhead for Lobo Peak is near the beginning of the canyon on Highway 150, and the climb to the 12,115-foot summit winds through willows and aspens as it climbs up a steep valley alongside a rushing mountain stream.
Naturally, these are just the highlights. Bull of the Woods is another popular summit that's included in the longer route shown to the top of Wheeler, and is also accessible from the Gold Hill route as well. And if you truly want to feel lost in the mountains, between Gold Hill and Lobo Peak there's a string of smaller summits that see even less traffic! The farther afield you look, the more peak climbing options you'll notice, so give these a try first and then expand your horizons as far as you'd like!