Wheeler Peak, New Mexico

Prominence: 3409 ft, 1039 m

Elevation: 13,161 feet, 4011 meters

True Isolation: 37.02 mi, 59.57 km
Elevation Info:NAVD88 Elevation: 13,166 ft / 4013 m
Latitude/Longitude (WGS84)36° 33' 24'' N, 105° 25' 1'' W
36.556784, -105.416907 (Dec Deg)
462691 E 4045788 N, Zone 13 (UTM)
CountryUnited States
State/ProvinceNew Mexico (Highest Point)
County/Second Level RegionTaos (Highest Point)

Search Engines - search the web for "Wheeler Peak":
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Other Web Sites
     Wheeler Peak (NM) at
     Wheeler Peak at
     Weather for Wheeler Peak Sangre de Cristo at
     Wheeler Peak at Summits on the Air (Amateur Radio) Trip Report for Taos, NM by Andy Martin Trip Report for Taos, NM by Scott Surgent Trip Report for Taos, NM by Mouser Williams Trip Report for Taos, NM by Martin Gonzales

Weather and Snow
     National Weather Service Forecast
     NOAA Snow Depth Map

Lists that contain Wheeler Peak:
     Contiguous 48 U.S. State High Points (Rank #6)
     U.S. State High Points (Rank #8)
     United States State/Territory High Points (Rank #8)
     EPIC List - States of the USA (Rank #8)
     Combined USA-Canada-Mexico State/Province High Points (Rank #17)
     U.S. County High Points over 13,000 feet - 48 States (Rank #44)
     Fifty Highest CoHPs in Lower 48 (Rank #38)
     U.S. County High Points over 13,000 feet (Rank #51)
     Fifty Highest CoHPs (Rank #45)
     Top 10 County High Points Grid for U.S. States (Rank #28)
     2000-foot Prominence CoHPs - 48 States (Rank #121)
     Top 10 Elevation Grid for U.S. States (Rank #53)
     CoHP High Five List (Rank #25)
     100 Highest CoHPs in Lower 48 (Rank #38)
     100 Highest CoHPs (Rank #45)
     U.S. National Forest High Points (Rank #16)
     USA Lower 48 Top 400 Peaks by Prominence (Rank #258)
     USA Lower 48 Range5 High Points (Rank #37)
     Western Contiguous USA CoHPs (Rank #44)
     Western USA CoHPs (Rank #51)
     New Mexico County High Points (Rank #1)
     New Mexico 12,000-foot Peaks (Rank #1)
     New Mexico 11,000-foot Peaks (Rank #1)
     New Mexico Wilderness Area High Points (Rank #1)
(Peak is on over 20 lists; Not all shown here.)

Selected Guidebook(s) for this Peak:
       Fifty State Summits, Guide with Maps to State Highpoints (Zumwalt)
       Highpoints of the United States: A Guide to the Fifty State Summits (Holmes)
       Highpoint Adventures: The Complete Guide to the 50 State Highpoints (Winger)

Ascent Info

Total successful ascents logged by registered users: 986
     Show all viewable ascents/attempts (Total: 947)

Selected Trip Reports:
     1989-05-09 by Greg Slayden (GPS Track)
     1999-07-16 by Charles Sidlinger
     2006-09-03 by Phil Robinson (GPS Track)
     2007-10-31 by Chad Painter (GPS Track)
     2010-04-18 by James Barlow
     2010-07-27 by Howe Siang Tan (GPS Track)
     2011-08-11 by Clay Mills
     2011-08-20 by Alan Barber
     2011-09-19 by Andy Blake
     2011-10-02 by Paul McClellan (GPS Track)
     2011-10-18 by Peter James (GPS Track)
     2012-02-02 by Marlin Thorman (GPS Track)
     2012-08-12 by Mihai Giurgiulescu (GPS Track)
     2012-08-15 by Richard Oestreicher
     2012-09-22 by Phil Robinson (GPS Track)
     2012-12-23 by Paul Garry (GPS Track)
     2013-05-30 by Tye Scott
     2013-12-18 by Roger Roots
     2015-08-30 by Dave Dunham (GPS Track)
     2016-05-27 by Joe McGillian
     2016-08-13 by Maxwell Rubesch (GPS Track)
     2016-08-20 by Ryan Turner (GPS Track)
     2016-09-17 by David Odenwalder
     2016-10-21 by Sam Grant (GPS Track)
     2016-11-25 by Josh Super
     2017-07-03 by Zack Lewis (GPS Track)
     2017-07-05 by Gustav Sexauer
     2017-07-09 by Ron Stangeland
     2017-08-10 by Curtis Bowden
     2017-09-16 by bob l
     2017-10-22 by Eric Davidson
     2017-12-18 by Keith Turner
     2018-06-16 by Phil Robinson (GPS Track)
     2018-09-27 by Ed Wandall
     2018-10-06 by Stephen Pardo (GPS Track)
     2019-06-29 by William Musser (GPS Track)
     2019-11-09 by Alexander OConnor
     2020-06-12 by Ben Brownlee (GPS Track)
     2020-06-20 by Michael Walker
     2020-06-21 by Benjamin Burnham (GPS Track)
     2020-09-09 by Art Brody (GPS Track)
     2020-09-18 by Will Wente (GPS Track)
     2021-05-29 by Wilder Leavitt (GPS Track)
     2021-07-16 by Phil Robinson (GPS Track)
     2021-07-19 by Dennis Stewart
     2021-09-23 by Matthias Stender (GPS Track)

Nearby Peak Searches:
     Radius Search - Nearest Peaks to Wheeler Peak
     Elevation Ladder from Wheeler Peak
     Prominence Ladder from Wheeler Peak


Note: Wheeler Peak is closed to the public for a week in late August every year for a Native American tribal ceremony. Check with the U.S. Forest Service for more info.

Wheeler Peak is the highest mountain in New Mexico, but it is not a particularly spectacular, jagged summit. The Sangre de Cristo Range in northern New Mexico is largely a high but gentle range of rounded summits with unusually high treelines--very few other places in the world have forests above 12,000 feet. The arbitrary Colorado-New Mexico boundary passes just south of 14,069' Culebra Peak, meaning New Mexico just misses out on getting a fourteener, and Wheeler Peak isn't even the furthest south major rocky mountain peak. That honor goes to Truchas Peak (13,103'), just a shade lower than Wheeler and the southernmost thirteener in the American west.

The main reason people visit the Wheeler Peak vicinity is to ski at Taos Ski Valley, a world-class ski resort on the neighboring peak to the south. Wheeler's summit is visible from the eastern reaches of the ski area, and the ski area road provides paved access to the usual trailhead for the peak.

Despite the lack of climbing challenge and rugged pinnacles in the Wheeler Peak area, the above-timberline scenery is still very pleasant and a nice area for hiking and backpacking. La Cal basin, high on the north ridge of the peak, is a pretty alpine bowl, and to the north and east of Wheeler Peak its namesake wilderness offers solitude away from the state high-point peakbaggers often found making their way to the summit.

Climbing Notes:

From the Taos Ski Valley ski area parking lot, there are two usual routes to Wheeler Peak. The traditional and scenic route leads uphill towards Bull-of-the-Woods Mountain before making a sharp right turn to traverse over Fraser Mountain, La Cal Basin, and Mount Walter (a barely discernable subpeak) to the summit. It's a long but possible dayhike--just get an early start to be off the ridges before the inevitable afternoon thunderstorms in summer.

The other route heads up the valley of the Lake Fork to Williams Lake, and from there directly up to the summit. A recently constructed trail makes this route the quickest and easiest route to the top, but you miss out on the scenic above timberline traverse of the traditional way.

Notes from Tom Krajci

Hiking to the summit of Wheeler peak is a day trip. But it can be a long hike if you take the scenic route through Bull-of-the-Woods pasture. I recommend this route for the scenery. The shorter route is via Williams lake...but you spend zero time travelling across high alpine meadows.

If you hike Bull-of-the-Woods pasture route, give yourself at least 4 hours to get there and 3 to return. It's 8 miles out, 8 miles back, and you gain about 3,700 feet from the Taos ski area parking lot.

This is a heavily travelled route, so if you want solitude in the moutains, go elsewhere. However it's not a technically demanding route. I met parents, kids (13 was the youngest), and grandparents on the summit. Comfortable shoes, plenty of water, sunscreen, and a small pack to carry warm clothes, are all you really need. It may be warm in the valley, but especially on the windswept ridges above 12,000 feet you may need to cover up.

Start early in the day, especially if the summer monsoon is established because clouds will develop by noon, with thundershowers soon after.

My round trip hike was seven and a half hours, with 45 minutes on the summit.

The summit of Wheeler Peak from above La Cal Basin (1989-05-09).
Web Map LinksPeakfinder Panorama
GeoHack Links   CalTopo   MyTopo   Bing Maps
Google Maps   Open Street Map
ProminenceKey Col Page  (Detailed prominence information)
  Clean Prominence: 3409 ft/1039 m
  Optimistic Prominence: 3409 ft/1039 m
  Line Parent: Purgatoire Peak
  Key Col: Costilla Pass    9752 ft/2972 m
IsolationIsolation Page  (Detailed isolation information)
   Distance: 37.02 mi/59.57 km
   Isolation Limit Point: 37.068416, -105.214901
Nearest Higher Neighbor in the PBC database:
    Purgatoire Peak-West Peak  (NNE)
RangesContinent: North America
Range2: Rocky Mountains
Range3: Southern Rocky Mountains
Range4: Sangre de Cristo Range
Range5: Taos Mountains (Highest Point)
Drainage BasinsRio Grande
Gulf of Mexico
Atlantic Ocean
OwnershipLand: Carson National Forest (Highest Point)
Wilderness/Special Area: Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area (Highest Point)
Topo MapWheeler Peak O36105e4 1:24,000
Route #1 Scramble
Trailhead: Taos Ski Area 9390 ft/2862 m
Vertical Gain: 3771 ft/1149 m
Data Source1:25,000 (or larger) Topographic Survey Map
Dynamic Map

 Wheeler Peak    Other Peaks
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Other Photos

The pleasant path leading to the summit of Wheeler Peak. Photo by Tom Krajci (2005-07-03).
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The huge bulk of Wheeler Peak, NM at sunrise (2008-08-25). Photo by Phil Robinson.
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View of Wheeler Peak from Gold Hill (2014-10-19). Photo by Andrew Oxford.
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Gale winds on Wheeler (2016-09-04). Photo by Kelli Allstot.
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John and I on the summit of Mount Wheeler, our 8th peak of the day (2017-08-10). Photo by Curtis Bowden.
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Wheeler Peak (2015-06-20). Photo by glen mizenko.
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Summit plateau and trail from Mt. Walter to Wheeler Peak (2008-08). Photo by Charles Baxter.
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Big horn sheep gather at patch of snow on slope of Wheeler Peak’s Williams Lake approach (2008-08). Photo by Charles Baxter.
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A windy day on top of Wheeler Peak (2020-07-18). Photo by Ted Bauer.
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