Santa Fe: Mesa Trail to Upper Alamo

This 10.4-mile out-and-back surveys a sunbleached mesa en route to a backcountry camp in the Jemez Mountains of Bandelier National Monument.
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Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.4



Location: 35.778263092041, -106.270805358887

Head NW along paved road from visitor center to trailhead kiosk; follow main trail to the NW. Water is limited; pack plenty


Location: 35.7816696166992, -106.27619934082

Begin gradual climb on switchbacks out of Frijoles Canyon on shady slope; scan cliff face to the N for ruins of Pueblo dwellings dug into the ancient volcanic tuff


Location: 35.7861785888672, -106.286903381348

Bear R @ 4-way (toward Upper Crossing); stay on Mesa Trail


Location: 35.7887496948242, -106.291603088379

Travel W over parched mesa dotted with ponderosa pines; wildfi re blackened this landscape


Location: 35.790958404541, -106.301803588867

Trail curves NW; grazing mule deer gather along shallow, sometimes shady, drainages in warmer months


Location: 35.7982406616211, -106.316398620605

Cruise along open mesa top; on clear days, look E to Pecos Wilderness


Location: 35.8006896972656, -106.326103210449

Continue NW on dry bench with piñon and juniper


Location: 35.802360534668, -106.343200683594

Bear L @ Y with Upper Crossing Trail; head SW


Location: 35.8001708984375, -106.346000671387

Turn L; leave main trail to find campsite in zone 1702 (permit req.). Tread lightly around fragile pot shards near trail. Note: For water, continue .8 mi. to Upper Alamo Canyon


Location: 35.7971000671387, -106.345596313477

Pitch tent under ponderosas; hooting owls and yipping coyotes add to night soundtrack. Retrace steps back to trailhead

Camping Zone 1702

Location: 35.7971458435059, -106.344596862793

©Bill Velasquez


Location: 35.7999534606934, -106.345901489258

©Bill Velasquez

Frijoles Canyon

Location: 35.7817001342773, -106.27619934082

Ruins can be seen in the walls of Frijoles Canyon. ©Bill Velasquez

Trail views

Location: 35.7980461120606, -106.316413879395

©Bill Velasquez

Looking at the Pecos from the Mesa Trail

Location: 35.7976455688477, -106.315811157227

©Bill Velasquez

Deer near trail

Location: 35.7915267944336, -106.302673339844

©Bill Velasquez

The Mesa Trail

Location: 35.789722442627, -106.294448852539

©Bill Velasquez