Notes on New Mexico Mountain Ranges, by Richard Carey, corrections, additions by Richard Hensley,
more corrections March 20, 2020 by Richard Carey.
Note: This list is also present on Lists of John site. There are a number of advantages to having the table there such as being able to have a link to each peak. The peaks were also found and compiled into a table using that site. Also, if you are a member of LOJ you can see how many peaks on this list you have climbed.
My investigations have found 111 mountain ranges in New Mexico. One range, the San Luis Mountains in Hidalgo County, is shown here but is not in the LOJ table because it is not a point in LOJ. There are 112 entries because two ranges, the Cedar Mountain Range in Luna County and the Dona Ana Mountains in Dona Ana County each have two named peaks with the same elevation. Hikers wishing to do the range high points should hike to both summits since it cannot be determined at present which is the true high point.
Notes on Ranges
1. Peak Range This shows up as a range in Hidalgo County after a search in the GNIS, but an examination of the Doubtful Canyon map shows it to be an unnamed isolated peak that is a part of the Peloncillo Mountains.
2. Sierra Rica This range extends across the northeastern corner of the panhandle in Hidalgo County and crosses into Mexico with the same name. A higher point of at least 5512 ft. is located in Mexico, so the range high point is there.
The next four ranges, arranged here from west to east, are at the bottom of the panhandle in Hidalgo County and extend into Mexico. The high point in New Mexico has been included where possible.
3. Guadalupe Mountains At the southwestern corner of the panhandle in Hidalgo County these mountains extend into Mexico and Arizona. There is a question as to whether Cloverdale BM or Guadalupe Mountain is the highest point. I have used Cloverdale since it isn't clear that the range extends up to Guadalupe Peak across Lion Canyon.
4. San Luis Mountains At the bottom of the panhandle in Hidalgo County these mountains appear to extend into Mexico where the range is called the Sierra San Luis. The high point in New Mexico is Lang Benchmark at 6757 ft. which is not listed in Lists Of John so could not been included. The range extends well in Mexico with peaks there over 8000 ft.
5. Whitewater Mountains These extend into Mexico, but the highest point in the range is the one identified in New Mexico.
6. Dog Mountains At the bottom southeast corner of the panhandle in Hidalgo County these mountains extend into Mexico. The highest point at 5552 ft., is in New Mexico. South of the border the highest point is a closed contour of 5512 ft.
7. El Rito Mountains Listed in the GNIS as in Rio Arriba County on an unknown map. There is a town of El Rito west of Taos, but a search of most maps in this area does not reveal the range.
8. San Luis Mountains, Animas Mountains and Guadalupe Mountains The GNIS shows these three ranges as existing in both Hidalgo and Socorro counties. In each case the range was found in Hidalgo County, but nothing was found in Socorro County.
9. Tonuco Mountains These are listed in the GNIS as being in Dona Ana county on the Selden Canyon 7.5 minute map. They are east of the Rio Grande River and is an isolated mountain and not a range.
10. Elk Mountains In Catron County. These show up in a GNIS search as mountain, but on the Pitchfork Canyon map there is a range Elk Mountains (plural) shown. The highest point is Elk Mountain.
11. Long Canyon Mountains These do not show up in a GNIS search, but there is a small range by this name in Catron County on the Collins Park map. The highest point is an unnamed peak at 9403 ft.
12. Little San Pascual Mountains These also do not show up after a GNIS search, but they do appear on the San Pascual Mountain 7.5 minute map in Socorro County. The highest point in the range is Little San Pascual Mountain.
13. Canyon Creek Mountains There is a possible alternate high point located about ¼ mile northwest of the point chosen.
14. Mesa Mountains Located in San Juan County in the northwestern part of the state. They do not appear in a GNIS search, but do show up on the Mount Nebo map. The highest point in New Mexico is Tank Mountain at 7216 ft. The range extends into Colorado where the high point is an unnamed peak at P7650 ft.
15. Culebra Range Located in Taos County in the north central part of the state, I have considered these a subrange of the larger Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The range does not appear on the Big Costilla Peak 7.5 minute map as it should, but it does show up on the Wheeler Peak 100K map that covers the area. The high point in New Mexico is the unnamed peak at P12,931 ft. south of Big Costilla Peak. The range extends into Colorado and the highest point in the range is Culebra Peak at 14,047 ft.
16. Tunitcha Mountains These mountains are predominantly in northeastern Arizona and are a part of the larger Chuska Mountains. They do extend a short distance into San Juan county New Mexico on the Tsaile Butte and Upper Wheatfields maps, however they are blended into the Chuskas with no clear separation from them so I have not included them on the range list.
17. Tusas Mountains The GNIS lists these as located in Rio Arriba County on the Burned Mountain map, but an examination of this and the adjacent Mule Canyon and Las Tablas maps shows a ridge by this name. There is also a lone Tusas Mountain shown. The ridge is extensive and long enough that it could be considered a range, but since it is shown in several places as a ridge I have not included it.
18. San Pedro Mountains Located on the Nacimiento Peak map in Rio Arriba County. There is another point with the same elevation about 1/8 mile to the southeast.
19. Sierra Larga This range in Socorro County has several possible highpoints on the ridge of the same elevation. After a careful survey with a 32X automatic level on 5-14-06 the largest closed contour at 7000 ft. was found to be the highest point. It is about 8 to 10 feet higher than P7010 ft., which is 2.06 miles south. All of the other 7000 ft. closed contours were sighted and found to be lower. La Cebolla to the west is considered a separate peak since the Sierra Larga name on the map does not extend over near this peak, but seems to refer only to the north-south ridge east of La Cebolla.
20. Sierra de la Cruz This is an isolated peak in Socorro County and is not considered a mountain range. It is on the Sierra de la Cruz map and is northwest of La Cebolla Peak.
The next five ranges, arranged here from west to east, extend into Texas and in several cases the highest point is in Texas.
21. Franklin Mountains Located in the southern and central part of the state in Dona Ana County.The range extends into Texas and the highest point of the range is North Franklin Mountain at 7192 ft. In New Mexico the highest point of the range is North Anthonys Nose at 5388 ft.
22. Hueco Mountains This range in Otero County also extends into Texas and the highest point there is Cerro Alto at 6787 ft. In New Mexico the highest peak is Bassett BM, 6057 ft., on the Mountain Tank map.
23. Cornudas Mountains This range in Otero County also extends into Texas, but the high point is in New Mexico and is Wind Mountain, 7280 ft., on the Cornudas Mountains map.
24. Brokeoff Mountains This range is poorly defined since it is a ridge that lies between a parallel to two other ridges, the Cutoff Ridge and Plowman Ridge, and there are higher points on those ridges. It also extends in Texas and blends into the Guadalupe Mountains there. It is such a mess that I have not included it.
25. Guadalupe Mountains This range in Eddy County extends into Texas with the range's highest point being Guadalupe Peak, 8749 ft., the state high point. In New Mexico the highest point is an unnamed peak close to the Texas border on the El Paso Gap map. The point at 7500 ft. (interpreted) is also the high point of Eddy County.
26. Grandmother Mountains -- This is a cluster of six peaks on the Grandmother Mt West quad which extend for five miles east to west. The highest point at 5866 ft. has over one thousand feet of prominence. They are not labelled mountains (plural) on the quad. They seem to qualify when compared to the Victorio Mountains which are seven miles south. This is much smaller and has less prominence but the USGS calls it a range using mountains in the name. So I have taken the liberty of adding them as a range to the list. Thanks to Jack Shiver for pointing these out.
27. Ladron Mountains -- This is the significant range northwest of Socorro which has a high point of 9210 ft. at Ladrones BM. The maps do not have the name Ladron Mountains on them but they certainly qualify. Early surveyors called them the Sierra del Ladrones but on the maps this is now the small sub-range to the east. So rather than use that name I have chosen Ladron Mountains. Again thanks to Jack Shiver for noting this omission.
1. "Guide to the New Mexico Mountains" by Herbert E. Ungnade.
2. "The Place Names of New Mexico" by Robert Julyan. University of New Mexico Press, 1996.
3. "The Hikers Guide to New Mexico" by Laurence Parent. Falcon Press, 1991.
4. "Hikers and Climbers Guide to the Sandias" by Mike Hill. University of New Mexico Press, 1977.
5. "El Malpais, Mt. Taylor and the Zuni Mountains" by Sherry Robinson. University of New Mexico Press, 1994.
6. "The Maxwell Land Grant" by William A. Keleher. Reprint 1984 by University of New Mexico Press.
Originally published: 2nd edition New York, Argosy-Antiquarian, 1964.
7. "New Mexico in Maps" edited by Jerry L. Williams. 2nd edition by University of New Mexico Press, 1986.
8. "Topographic Quadrangle Maps of Gila National Forest". A spiral-bound book of all the 7.5 minute
maps in the Gila National Forest reduced to A size pages. Produced by the U.S. Forest Service,