The Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area is located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, northeast of Taos, New Mexico. The area includes Wheeler Peak, the highest point in the state at 13,161 feet above sea level. In 1964, Congress designated this region as a protected wilderness area. It now covers of 19,661 acres within the Questa Ranger District, home to elk, mule deer, marmots, pikas, mountain lions, black bears, bighorn sheep, and golden eagles.
Features of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area include Horseshoe Lake, Simpson Peak, Taos Cone, and Sawmill Park, to name a few. There is a parking lot and overnight facilities at Twining Campground in the north, and the Wheeler Peak Trail starts near the camping area. Its well-defined path leads eight miles to the summit, and no technical gear is required for the hike. Views from the top are spectacular.
The Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area is also noteworthy for its cold and expansive alpine tundra, uncommon in the Southwest. Small glacier-formed lakes and year-round snowfields can be found here. Snow flurries are possible in the higher regions, even in mid-summer, and the area is popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Taos Ski Valley is just to the north.
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