El Rito Ranger District

Area Status: Open

District Office Information

State Road 554 Building 1221
Mail to: P.O. Box 56
El Rito, NM 87530
Phone: (575) 581-4554
Fax: (575) 581-4556
Hours: Office hours - closed on Federal holidays
Permit Sale Hours: Office hours

Recreational activities include hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and rock climbing. The Rio Chama and the Rio Vallecitos are known for excellent trout fishing. At the headwaters of El Rita, a fish barrier has been installed to protect the established population of native Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout. Dispersed camping opportunities are numerous. The El Rita dispersed camping corridor offers 4 miles of beautiful campsites along El Rita; this area is traditionally utilized by local families for large family reunions.

The Potrero cliffs along Forest Road 44 draw a lot of rock climbers from the area. Many rock climbing routes are available along with a large dispersed campground. A short half-mile hike up from this campground brings you to Potrero waterfall.

The El Rita Ranger District is home to one of two functioning Federal Sustained Yield Units in the entire United States. The Vallecitos Federal Sustained Yield Unit (VFSYU) was established in 1948 and is approximately 73,400 acres in size. The VFSYU was established through the authority of the Sustained Yield Forest Management Act of 1944.

The unit was established to provide employment opportunities and provide saw timber and other forest products.

The district also administers the Jarita Mesa Wild Horse Territory. The wild horse territory dates back to when the conquistadores came from Spain and the blood line of the horses dates back to the late 1700s.

Forest products such as green fuel wood, dead/down fuel wood, juniper posts, latillas, and vigas are provided through personal-use permits. The general public relies heavily on fuel wood for heating their homes during the winter months.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

Areas for Campground Camping at El Rito Ranger District

River and Stream Fishing

Areas for River and Stream Fishing at El Rito Ranger District


Areas for Picnicking at El Rito Ranger District

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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