Picacho Peak is a 500-foot volcanic neck at the foot of Mount Taylor, which rises 4,400 feet above. Flat-topped mesas surround Picacho Peak, which rises from the desert in the middle of a flat valley. Located near Laguna Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, El Malpais National Monument, Chaco Canyon National Park, El Morro National Monument, Picacho Peak is in the midst of a natural and cultural wonderland.
The exposed heart of an eroded volcano 4.5 million years old, Picacho Peak is a product of the ancient volcanism that rocked the area. The views from the top of this rock formation are extraordinary, especially when the distinct New Mexican sunsets illuminate the entire area with every color imaginable.
This peak offers different degrees of difficulty from a easy scramble with some exposure to full rock climbing opportunities along the steep east and west faces. The west face for example is a couple hundred feet straight up with many crags to work up.
Drive 45 minutes west on Interstate 40 from Albuquerque to the Cubero exit (No. 104). Take a right to get onto the north side of the freeway and turn left to travel west along the frontage road a mile or so. Take a soft right in the small village of Budville towards the town of Cubero. At the near end of Cubero, take a right onto another paved road. Turn left at the first intersection with another paved road, which is C76 or Cibola 8 (Cibola 8 is what is marked on the shot up, blue sign on the right side of the road). Continue on this road to Laguna Reservation Boundary at the saddle directly south of the rock.
Picacho Peak is located on the edge of Laguna Tribal Land. The tribe request that every person or party get a permit from the Laguna Tribal Offices, which has to notify one of the villages called Encinal (2 miles to the east). It is important to call a day or two ahead of time on a weekday to attain the permit. The primary number for the tribal offices is 505- 552-6654.
A year-round primitive camping site is managed by the BLM on NM 117 east of El Malpais Conservation Area. Check-in with the BLM Ranger Station on NM 117 closer to I-40 (505-280-2918).
In general, much of the land near the peak is under the control of the Bureau of Land Management and is open to primitive camping. There are several things one must be aware of if the choice is made to set up camp on BLM land. Fire restrictions are the main concern because of recurrent drought conditions in New Mexico. Camping during big game hunting seasons can be hazardous because of trigger happy hunters that frequent the area. The last things are fauna like snakes and arachnids that can deliver a lot of pain if one is careless.
Laguna Pueblo and Grants are the nearest towns large enough to have their weather monitored.
Laguna Pueblo Weather
Other Area AttractionsMount Taylor Page
El Malpais National Monument
El Morro National Monument
Information on Laguna Pueblo
Information on Acoma Pueblo