Tres Piedras Ranger District: Mosaic Rock

One of the wonders of northern New Mexico is the variety of landscapes in every direction.

One day you can ski or snowshoe in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the next be walking on the desert mesa above the Rio Grande. One of the less visited areas is the Tres Piedras Ranger District of the Carson National Forest, northwest of Taos about 30 miles.

The area has stands of aspen, ponderosa pine, juniper and scrub oak and is at the southern end of the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains. Although it doesn’t have as many trails as some of the other Carson National Forest ranger districts, it is a popular area for cross-country skiing, climbing and some hiking, in areas such as Mosaic Rock.

Past the small town of Tres Piedras, the ranger district office on U.S. 64 is a good jumping off point for exploring. Knowledgeable staff members and maps are available. The area is rich in history.

Archeological investigations show that hunter and gatherers lived here thousands of years ago as did the Jicarilla Apaches in the 1800s. The Forest Service plans to build on the past while adding to and improving trails in the future.

Access to the Mosaic Rock area is a bit past the ranger district office. Well-known in the climbing community as a place to boulder and scale the massive rock walls, it is also a good destination for a short hike and a scramble to the accessible shelves of the rock formation.

Tres Piedras is named for this area, but you will find at least six rock formations rather than three. At the parking area, look for the public entrance marked as TP Rocks entrance.

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