Special Places

The Santa Fe National Forest has a number of special places, including wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, a national recreation area and scenic byways.

There are four wilderness areas on the forest. They cover almost 300,000 acres. Wilderness areas provide primitive recreation options. 

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was passed by Congress in 1968 to protect outstanding free-flowing rivers.  There are three wild and scenic rivers on the Forest: the Rio ChamaPecos and East Fork of the Jemez.  For more information on the Wild and Scenic Rivers Program, visit http://www.rivers.gov/.

National recreation areas (NRAs) were established by Congress to preserve enhanced recreational opportunities in places with significant natural and scenic resources. NRAs emphasize a variety of activities for visitors, including hiking, camping, boating, fishing, swimming, biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing, in areas that include multiple-use management focused on conservation and limited utilization of natural resources. The Jemez National Recreation Area (JNRA) - the only NRA in the Forest Service Southwestern Region -  was designated by Congress in 1993 to conserve its recreational, natural and cultural resources.  Learn more about the JNRA.

The National Scenic Byways Program is a collaborative effort administered by the Federal Highway Administration that recognizes special roadways for their outstanding and unique historic, cultural, natural, archaeological, recreational and scenic qualities. The Santa Fe National Forest has two Scenic and Historic Byways. Learn more about the Byways. 

Highlighted Areas

Battleship Rock Trailhead

Trailhead parking for the East Fork Trail (Forest Trail 137) is located north of Battleship Rock Picnic Area, off NM State Highway 4, about five miles north of the Village of Jemez Springs. To access the East Fork Trail walk through the picnic area, trail is located to the east side of the pavillion. 


From the trailhead it is two miles to McCauley Warm Spring, and four miles to Jemez Falls Trailhead. The trail is rated for moderately difficult hiking, typically uphill to Jemez Falls. The trail continues one mille to the East Fork Trailhead parking area and ends at the Las COnchas Trailhead. The total one way trail length is approximately 10 miles.

Uses: Hiking and fishing

Facilities: Paved parking at trailhead, vault toilet and trail information kiosk

Special Instructions: No overnight camping within one-quarter mile of trailhead. Back pack camping is allowed more than 400 feet from McCauley Warm Spring and 200 feet from river and springs. No glass contrainers; use only plastic. Pack out all trash and leave the trail clean for others to enjoy.

Panchuela Campground

Panchuela campground is nestled at the edge of the Pecos Wilderness with Panchuela Creek running along the eastern side of the campground. At a little over 8,300 feet visitors to this campground escape from the warmer temperatures of the city and enjoy the moderate temperatures of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There are 6 sites inside the campground and are within walking distance of the parking lot. With the nearby Pecos Wilderness Area, this campground makes for the perfect base camp for those looking take day hikes into the Wilderness Area.  

The campsites are surrounded by views of the mountains and the gorgeous shades of green from the mixed conifer and aspen. In the fall, the mountains gleam a glorious gold as the aspen leaves begin to change color. A variety of wildlife are seen in the surrounding forests including deer, elk, various species of songbirds and raptors, and the occasional black bear. Not far from the campground in an open meadow, campers can see the charming rustic cabins that forest service volunteers and employees stay in when working in the Pecos Wilderness Area.




Jemez Ranger District

The Jemez Ranger District is home to the Jemez National Recreation Area, located within the Jemez Mountains. A drive through the district reveals multiple cultural landmarks and impressive geological formations. Red rock canyons, round peaks, colorful mesas and clear blue skies provide an inspiring backdrop. Cottonwood gallery forests dot the lower recreation sites and provide shade for anglers in the summer, turning brilliant hues of gold and yellow in the fall. In the higher elevations, quaking aspen take over and display their foliage of gold and red. Trails lead to hot springs and waterfalls, glimpses of the Valles Caldera, and majestic views of the mountains. A visit to the district will leave you enchanted by the land that the people of the Jemez Pueblo have lived in for generations.

Recreation Areas