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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)
462691E 4045788N Zone 13 (UTM)
CountryUnited States
State/ProvinceNew Mexico (Highest Point)
County/Second Level RegionTaos (Highest Point)
Links

Search Engines - search the web for "Wheeler Peak":
     Wikipedia Search
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Other Web Sites
     Wheeler Peak (NM) at SummitPost.org
     Wheeler Peak at ListsOfJohn.com
     CoHP.org Trip Report for Taos, NM by Andy Martin
     CoHP.org Trip Report for Taos, NM by Scott Surgent
     CoHP.org Trip Report for Taos, NM by Mouser Williams
     CoHP.org Trip Report for Taos, NM by Martin Gonzales

Weather and Snow
     National Weather Service Forecast
     NOAA Snow Depth Map

Lists that contain Wheeler Peak:
     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)
     United States State High Points (plus DC) (Rank #8)
     2000-foot Prominence CoHPs - 48 States (Rank #121)
     U.S. State High Points (Rank #8)
     New Mexico Wilderness Area High Points (Rank #1)
     New Mexico County High Points (Rank #1)
     Western USA Peaks with 25 miles of Isolation (Rank #148)
     U.S. County High Points over 13,000 feet - 48 States (Rank #44)
     CoHP High Five List (Rank #25)
     U.S. National Forest High Points (Rank #16)
     U.S. County High Points over 13,000 feet (Rank #51)
     Fifty Highest CoHPs in Lower 48 (Rank #38)
     New Mexico 12,000-foot Peaks (Rank #1)
     Fifty Highest CoHPs (Rank #45)
     New Mexico Peaks with 2000 feet of Prominence (Rank #11)
     Contiguous 48 U.S. State High Points (Rank #6)
     New Mexico 11,000-foot Peaks (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)

Selected Trip Reports from this site:
     1989-05-09 by Greg Slayden (GPS Track)
     2006-09-03 by Phil Robinson (GPS Track)
     2007-10-31 by ChadL Painter (GPS Track)
     2008-07-16 by Walter Blume
     2009-07-24 by Weston Broadbent
     2010-04-18 by James Barlow
     2011-07-23 by Richard Oestreicher
     2011-08-11 by Clay Mills
     2011-08-20 by Alan Barber
     2011-09-19 by Andy Blake
     2011-10-18 by Peter James (GPS Track)
     2012-02-02 by Marlin Thorman (GPS Track)
     2012-02-21 by Shane Vaughan
     2012-08-08 by Andrew DeFeo
     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
     2014-01-09 by Josh Gagner
     2014-05-25 by Tim Hankins (Unsuccessful)
     2014-06-05 by John Graham
     2014-07-27 by Ron Stangeland

View ascents of peak by registered Peakbagger.com members (392 total)

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


Description:

Wheeler Peak is the highest mountain in New Mexico, but it is not a particularly spectacular or interesting peak. 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 LinksAcme Mapper   MyTopo   Gmap4   TopoQuest
Bing Maps   Google Maps
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
Isolation37.02 mi/59.57 km
Nearest Higher Neighbor in the PBC database:
    Purgatoire Peak  (NNE)
Isolation Limit Point: 37° 4' 6'' N; 105° 12' 54'' W
    ILP Map Links:
Bing Maps   Google Maps
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
Google Maps Dynamic Map

 Wheeler Peak    Other Peaks
Click Here for a Full Screen Map



Other Photos


The pleasant path leading to the summit of Wheeler Peak. Photo by Tom Krajci (2005-07-03).
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The huge bulk of Wheeler Peak, NM at sunrise (2008-08-25). Photo by Phil Robinson.
Click here for larger-size photo.





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