White Mountain Wilderness


View from the Crest Trail in White Mountain Wilderness
View from the Crest Trail in White Mountain Wilderness

The 48,266-acre White Mountain Wilderness is in the White Mountains of south central New Mexico. These mountains reach up to 12,003' at Sierra Blanca (although the highest peak in the wilderness reaches only 11,580'), and when the snow starts falling in November it can last into May and June. The White Mountain Wilderness is about 12.5 mile long, north to south, and varies from 4 to 12 miles wide, east to west. The south end of the mountains runs into the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

The western slopes are steep and extremely rugged with avalanche chutes, high rising palisades and prominent rocky outcroppings. The eastern slopes are more gentle with a few small streams and wide forested canyons. Some of the streams are large enough to flow year round and carry a few small trout.

The 21-mile-long Crest Trail follows the ridge line along the crest of the White Mountains. Another 30 miles of trails rated as easy to strenuous branch off from this one or connect to it somewhere along the length of its journey. The solitude and the views are well worth the effort. Water can be found in most areas just by looking a bit.

The White Mountains are critical habitat for five listed threatened or endangered species: red-breasted nuthatches, Townsend's solitaire, Clark's nutcrackers, northern three-toed woodpeckers, and golden crowned kinglets.

White Mountain Wilderness
In White Mountain Wilderness
Lower photo courtesy of Steve Boutcher, via Wilderness.net
Upper photo courtesy of Wikipedia userid Dsw3131