View from the summit to the southeast
is a peak located on Philmont Scout Ranch
in Northern New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains
. It's summit only rises 200ft from its neighbor Rayado Peak making it an unofficial summit. Crater Peak is not named on USGS quads, however it is recognized on Philmont Scout Ranch's map as a peak. Regardless, it is an interesting summit that provides the hiker with great views to the east down Rayado Creek and down to the plains. There is not an established trail to the summit, but the trail from Lookout Meadow is less then half a mile way making this summit fairly easy to reach. From the north, the terrain consists of rolling meadows and hills. From the south, Crater Peak takes on a different shape and its steep craggy south face makes hiking from Rayado Creek fairly difficult. It is often popular and pretty easy to combine Lookout Peak with Burn Peak, Lookout and Rayado Peak in a day.
Lookout Meadow can be reached by a few ways. One is by starting at the Zastrow Turnaround (trailhead) and hiking through Zastrow (staffed camp) and through Abreau (staffed camp). Then follow the steep Bonito Creek upwards and gain Beaubien Meadows. Follow the trail to the south and arrive at Lookout Meadows. Or one could start at the Lovers Leap Turnaround (trailhead) and hike through Crater Lake and over Fowler Pass towards Websters Pass. From here, follow the trail to Lookout Meadow. No one really day hikes from these trailheads just to hike these peaks. It is likely that it will be a link up with other peaks or you will be on an official Philmont Trek.
View up Beaubien Meadow
From Lookout Meadow, follow the meadow up to the southeast. The meadow is pretty narrow and leads to the saddle between Rayado Peak and Crater Peak. From the top of the meadow, veer right and follow the slope to the summit of Crater Peak. Last time I was here there was not a distinct use trail and there was downfall everywhere! From Lookout Meadow, it is around half a mile to the summit.
View down Lookout Meadow in route to the summit
Summit of Crater Peak
Camping can be done in a few places close by. Since this peak is on Philmont Scout Ranch, you have to camp at designated campsites. At Philmont, a staffed camp offers program (mostly western activities such as shooting, logging, homesteading, etc...) and has water. Trail camps are your basic back-country camp with a Philmont twist to it. Beaubien (a staffed camp) is is located to the North of Crater Peak (many who hike this peak will day hike it from there). Another close staffed camp is Fish Camp and Abreau, located to the west and east, respectively, down along Rayado Creek. Lookout Meadow and Lower Bonito are two trail camps that are close by as well with Lookout Meadow camp being the closest to the peak.
Cows grazing in the meadows below Crater Peak
You are only allowed to hike this peak if you are on a trek at Philmont Scout Ranch, are part of the staff, or have special permission from Philmont to do so. To contact Philmont, you can reach them at:
Address: Philmont Scout Ranch
17 Deer Run Road
Cimarron, NM 87714
Phone: (575) 376-2281
Fax: (575) 376-2602
Winter hiking is a no go. Philmont does offer a winter program called Kanuk
, however, the winter activities are most limited to things around Camping Head Quarters (unless your staff or have special permission). Essentially, this peak can only be hiked during the summer (May- August) when Philmont's summer program is in operation.
When to Climb
Rocky Mountain Iris in bloom in July
The main season to climb Crater Peak is when Philmont is in full operation, so that is late May through mid August. After that, access is limited unless you are in a special Philmont program that starts after the season is over. Also, in the summer be sure to be off the summit before afternoon thunderstorms roll in.
Thunderheads rolling in over the area
Philmont is around a 4-5 hour drive from Denver or Albuquerque. It is located just a few miles south of Cimarron, New Mexico.
Take Hwy 21 south for about five miles. Philmont Camping Head Quarters (CHQ) will be on the right side. This is where you will go if your a camper at Philmont. If your staff or if you have permission to hike Crater Peak, you can drive just a little past CHQ and take a right onto Lovers Leap Road. You can then park at Lover's Leap Turnaround and start hiking from here. Or, you could drive to the Zastrow Turnaround and hike from here. Both Turnarounds (trailheads) are similar distances from Crater Peak Peak.
External LinksPhilmont Scout Ranch
Lots of great information about Philmont.
Crater Peak Weather Forecast
Current weather conditions for Crater Peak as forecasted by NOAA.
If you have any more additional information or photos, please contact me or add them to this page. Thank you!