A word that paints a thousand pictures: rocky peaks, shimmering aspens, dark forests, grassy meadows, azure lakes and hidden snowfields; an elk bugles in the distance; an eagle rides the thermals high above; a creek bubbles beneath a cool canopy of ferns. To get you going, here's our guide to accessing the Pecos Wilderness. We hope it will set you to thinking about places in the wilderness area that you've never seen or that you'd like to see again.
Not an experienced backpacker? There are plenty of books and videos to help. Check with area hospitals and organizations such as the American Lung Association or American Heart Association to see if they are leading a group trip. Or take the luxury route and hire a guide or outfitter to take you llama packing or horsebackpacking.
There are lots of ways to get into the wilderness and a lifetime of things to see once you are there. The trailheads and destinations shown on the map are but a few that are available in the Pecos Wilderness. Also, distances and elevation changes listed are approximate and ratings are subjective.
Access from North
Santa Barbara Campground
Access from South
Winsor Creek Campground
Access from West
Borrego Mesa Campground
Access from Southwest
(Winsor Trail, lower Ski Basin parking lot)
Santa Fe Ski Basin
(Skyline Trail, top of Tesuque Peak)
Do's and Don'ts at New Mexico's Pecos Wilderness
Do: Study the guidebooks and maps before your trip and make a written plan of your intended route, including stops you expect to make along the way. Leave a copy of the plan with friends or relatives, or at one of the ranger stations.
Know every piece of your gear and test it before you need it.
Know your personal limitations and plan your trip accordingly.
Pay special attention to the fit of your boots, the comfort of your bed, the quality of your food, and always be able to find your rain gear in a hurry.
Leave your campsite and the countryside cleaner than you found it.
Don't: Hike alone.
Plan on finding enough dead wood to make a fire or an existing fire ring to make it in. Bring a stove.
Camp in lake basins or within 200 feet of other water sources.
Cut across switchbacks or hike off established trails.
Drink the water without first purifying it with a filter, chemicals or heat.
Worry too much about things you can't control. Storms blow over; trails dry out; someone who knows the way back always comes along.
Getting More Informations
Here are people to call for all sorts of information about trail conditions, maps, outfitters and guides and so forth. It's also a good idea to leave a copy of your trip plan at one of these locations. Just remember to call them or stop by when you come out of the wilderness so they don't go looking for you.
Carson National Forest
208 Cruz Alta Road
Taos, N.M., 87571
Camino Real Ranger District
P.O. Box 348
Penasco, N.M., 87533
Santa Fe National Forest
1220 St. Francis Drive
Santa Fe, N.M., 87504
Espanola Ranger District
P.O. Box R.
Espanola, N.M., 87532
Pecos Ranger District
P.O. Box 429
Pecos, N.M., 87532
Besides these guidebooks, there are dozens of other books that can teach you how to backpack, how to buy gear, how to cook in camp, how to go potty in the woods (no fooling), and how to do just about anything else you can think of out-of-doors.Check stores where backpacking gear is sold and ask the people there which ones they recommend. A lot of new titles have shown up in the past few years.