Elevation: 6,953 ft
GPS: 36.406, -105.574 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 342,307 total · 2,255/month
Shared By: Jay Foley on Oct 4, 2006
Admins: Mike Howard, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

Town of Taos and Surrounding Area

Taos, "the Place of the Red Willow" in the native Tiwa of the Pueblo Indians, has long been the rendezvous of the Southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains and of the various cultures that call this region home. The Spanish referred to it as "Remote Beyond Compare" and it is for that reason it has remained to this day, unspoiled. Artists since have gathered at the foot of the Sangre De Cristo to take advantage of the high desert light and how it plays along the peaks and down into the Rio Grande Rift valley. The Taos Society of Artists, as well as Georgia O'Keefe, Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, and Dorthea Lange had an affection for the "Taos Light" and the extraordinary diversity of landforms and cultures in northern New Mexico.

Taosenos enjoy a diverse topography spanning from the basalt crags of the Rio Grande Gorge (John Dunn Bridge Area, Dead Cholla Wall, Miner's Crag, Utopian Vistas, Vista Verde Crag, Wild and Scenic, from about 5500 to 7000 ft) to the pristine granite of Tres Piedras or Questa Dome, the metamorphic rocks of Comales Canyon (up to 10,000 ft.) and the cobble conglomerate of El Rito all within a reasonable drive from one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the U.S. Bring your sense of adventure and independence (as well as your rack, rod, boat, bike and skis/board) and get lost in the expanse. Gradual development and expansion of local crags has added a variety of new sport and trad pitches in the area surrounding Taos.

The geology of the Rio Grande Box is largely volcanic. Olivine tholeiite basalt forms the three main layers of the Servilleta Basalt. The middle basalt unit is separated from the upper and lower tiers by layers of sediment forming the benches. These horizontal basalt layers of dark-gray, pahoehoe (ropey), vesicular (air pocketed) lava compose the main climbing walls in the gorge (Vista Verde, Utopian Vistas, Dead Cholla, John Dunn area, Horse Thief, etc.). The rock we climb in the upper Box area of the Wild and Scenic is more dense, can be red to light brown and was not from the lateral Servilleta flow. These remnants of volcanic plugs are more appropriately termed dacite, and it may contain crystal inclusions known as phenocrysts. The middle box or La Junta section has several examples of swirled volcanic rock from old low relief dacite volcanos. Miners' crag is a nice example. The wall across from Miners' is also a remnant.

Season: Year-round. Hit the sunny, sheltered Rio Grande Gorge on winter mornings (most cliffs face east) or on afternoons in the warmer months. In high summer, find cooler temps at Tres Piedras, Questa Dome, El Rito, and Comales Canyon

Disclaimer: As Lew Wallace once said: "Every calculation based on experience elsewhere, fails in New Mexico", and that may be doubly true for Taos. (Therefore climbing is dangerous, BETA is just that, use your own judgment, blah, blah ...). Oh, and if you are wondering, "Taos" rhymes with "house".

Jay Foley working "Letting Go" 12c in the Bat Cave, Vista Verde near Taos
Photo: Jay Foley working "Letting Go" in the Bat Cave. Photo by Bob D'Antonio

Local Climbing Resources

Guide Service - Mountain Skills climbingschoolusa.com/index…
Shops- Mudd N Flood 134 Bent Street Taos, NM 87571 (505)751-9100
Guidebook: Taos Rock: Climbs and Boulders of Northern New Mexico. Author:Jay Foley Publisher: Sharp End Publishing, 2005
and/or Rock Climbing New Mexico (Regional Rock Climbing Series) by Dennis Jackson

Climbing Magazine Article:UTOPIAN VISTAS
By Matt Samet from Climbing Magazine No. 278 - September 2009
Photos by Andrew Burr / AndrewBurr.com


Cycling Resources

Gearing Up Bicycle Shop
Taos Cyclery
Recommended MTB Rides
South Boundry Trail

Hospital/Medical Care

Holy Cross Hospital

Holy Cross Hospital
1397 Weimer Road
Taos, New Mexico 87571
Phone: 575-758-8883

South of Town. Turn East on Canon Bypass (look for Chevron at corner of Paseo Del Pueblo and Canon Bypass). About 1/2 mile to 2nd round-about for Weimer Road turn Right (South) to Hospital (Approx 1 mile)

Taos Search and Rescue

High Angle Unit: contact 911 and ask for State Police to dispatch TSAR (Directo: Richard McCracken of the Direct Northwest Face on Half Dome, 5.10 A3+ VI 5.13c/d. FA 1963 with Royal Robbins. 1963 Robbins Route, Mount Proboscis, Logan Mountains, NWT, Canada with Jim McCarthy, Layton Kor and Royal Robbins. 1964 North Face Mount Hooker, Wind River Range, Wyoming, USA. With Royal Robbins and Charlie Raymond)

Eats: The World Cup Cafe, on the Taos Plaza, has the best espresso in town. In Arroyo Seco, the Taos Cow is the place for java, lunchables, and ice cream. For muy delicioso New Mexican fare, Orlando’s, in north Taos, serves some of the state’s best chile (say, “Go Christmas,” when ordering, for half-green and half-red). Willing to spend a little more? Check out The Love Apple, built in an old, chapel just east of Taos and serving fresh, locally grown, mouthwatering meals (try the quesadilla with egg). Doc Martin's in the Taos Inn is a must for breakfast or dinner. Ask Bob D'antonio for his recommendations for a meal or climb, he manages the place.

Camping: Most crags have camping on National Forest and BLM land. Particularly primo are the improved Orilla Verde Recreation Area campgrounds, right along the Rio Grande —$7 per night, blm.gov/nm, (575) 751-4899. Hot showers and check with the camp host if you can use the hottub. blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recre…

Lodging: Why rough it when you can stay in a lux adobe? Donna Longo, Jay Foley’s wife, rents two vacation homes in Arroyo Seco: Casa Seco and Casita Seco, both on an acre of pasture overlooking the Taos Valley. Prices vary according to season and number of people — climbtaos.com/rental.html, (575) 776-2222. Or enjoy the mountain air below El Salto peak at walkingrainguesthouse.com. The iconic Abominable Snowmansion, in Arroyo Seco, offers private and dormitory-style rooms, teepees, and camping — snowmansion.com, (575) 776-8298.

Rest-Day Activities: World-class fly fishing on the Cimarron and Rio Grande, as well as kayaking and rafting on class 2 to 5 rapids; marinate in mineral water at Ojo Caliente hot springs, about an hour southeast Taos; unwind with massage or yoga (Foley recommends amaniyoga.com, [575] 776-8075); hike or bike the myriad mountain trails; ski Taos Ski Valley; go fly fishing thesolitaryangler.com, or visit Taos Pueblo, home to about 150 Taos Indians. First built more than 1,000 years ago, this World Heritage Site is the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States — taospueblo.com, (575) 758-1028.

View from south on Rift Valley MTB trail. Vista Verde, Dead Cholla and Utopian Vistas along dirt road climbing west side of gorge from the Taos Junction Bridge.

Getting to Taos

From Albuquerque: I-25 to Santa Fe; exit on 599 north to by-pass Santa Fe; Hwy. 285 to Hwy. 68 to Taos.
From Arizona: I-40 WEST to Albuquerque; I-25 to Santa Fe; Hwy. 285 to Hwy. 68 to Taos.
From Denver: I-25 to Colorado Springs to Walsenburg; Hwy. 160 to Fort Garland; Hwy. 159 and Hwy. 522 to Taos.
From Texas: I-40 EAST to Albuquerque; I-25 to Santa Fe; Hwy. 285 to Hwy. 68 to Taos.

Driving Distances / Approximate Times to Taos

Albuquerque 135 mi. / 2:15
Amarillo 302 mi / 5:00
Dallas 682 mi / 11:00
Denver 300 mi / 5:00
Durango 208 mi / 3:30
Phoenix 568 mi / 8:30
Santa Fe 72 mi / 1:15

Ernest Blumensheim, founder of the Taos Society of Artists documented his own love of the topography

543 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Taos Area Change
Type:  to 
Sort by:   then:

Classic Climbing Routes at Taos Area

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Dirty Diagonal
Trad 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Chicken Heads
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Chicken Shit
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Mama Jugs
Trad 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Serpentine Crack
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Clean Green Dream
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Jam Time
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13
Serpent Face
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Chomping at the Bit
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c PG13
Question of Balance
Trad 5 pitches
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Family Man
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Dirty Diagonal Tres Piedras > Mosaic Rock
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 2 pitches
Chicken Heads Tres Piedras > Mosaic Rock
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad
Chicken Shit Tres Piedras > Mosaic Rock
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad
Mama Jugs Tres Piedras > Mosaic Rock
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13 Trad 2 pitches
Serpentine Crack Tres Piedras > Mosaic Rock
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 2 pitches
Tijerina Utopian Vistas > (L2) Hopper's Hangove…
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Clean Green Dream Tres Piedras > Mosaic Rock
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Alien Tres Piedras > W Rock
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Jam Time Dead Cholla Wall
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Serpent Face Tres Piedras > Mosaic Rock
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13 Trad
Chomping at the Bit Utopian Vistas > (L5) Good Craic Wall
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Question of Balance Questa Dome > Questa Dome
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c PG13 Trad 5 pitches
Burnt Comales Canyon > Fire Wall & Upper Tier
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Techweenie Tres Piedras > Mosaic Rock
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Sport
Family Man Comales Canyon > Fire Wall & Upper Tier
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Taos Area »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
Kurt Arend
Angelus Oaks, Ca
Kurt Arend   Angelus Oaks, Ca
Just spent a week out in the Taos area and had a blast. What a great variety of rock and style of climbs. Jay took me on a great tour of the area and enjoyed everything from Comales, to TP, the trad at El Rito (Jay was sick, good jerky huh Jay?) and the great Wild and Scenic. Climbing here was very surreal and I want to give an applause to all the guys doing great work developing the crags, and making it a great area to climb in. Jays book is pretty close to right on, I have never been to the area before and drove right to the El Rito trad area solo with no problems as well as finding routes and trails. Taos has a great local scene, great food, wonderful places to stay, and just a atmosphere that will inspire you to look around not just up or down. Jun 27, 2009
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
The Taos-area article from last month's climbing magazine (plus perhaps some bonus material) is online at climbing.com. Good stuff Mike Howard, tim naylor, Jay Foley and others. Oct 18, 2009
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
JMo, Foley's 2005 book is the most up-to-date publication. I think the biggest and best Taos-area to be developed since Foley's 2005 book is Utopian Vistas. Utopian is not in any books so you'd be wise to print out a mini-guide from MP here. Miner's Crag has also seen a huge amount of development since Foley's book came out and again is best documented here on MP. The El Rito Sport Area has seen a number of new lines put in in the past few years and the online PDF from the Los Alamos Mountaineers website is the best updated source for that area.

I'm sure a more local Taos person can fill in blanks I have left here... Sep 2, 2010
Hello, we are escaping some weather in Boulder for the next few days and thought we would come down to Taos. We are looking for someone willing to give a tour (paid in beers) and or some suggestions. I prefer trad but sport's cool and I either need a climber partner or a place with bolted anchors so I can clean my own pitch (my travel partner can climb 5.6 at best but is willing to belay whatever).
If you are able to show us around PM me, thanks! May 18, 2011
Hello, I will be visiting Taos this weekend the 16th - 18th. I am looking for someone to climb with hopefully on Sunday the 18th. I am an intermediate sport climber with all the gear.

Michael Sep 13, 2011
Justin Whitell
Justin Whitell   California
FOUND- A quickdraw at utopian vistas 1/11/12 contact me if you lost one there. Jan 11, 2012
Santa Fe, NM
Haj   Santa Fe, NM
I was wondering if there is any info out there about climbing in the Rio Hondo valley on the way up to the Taos Ski Valley?

Thanks ... Haj Jun 29, 2013
Red River, NM
Amy143   Red River, NM
Just moved from Arroyo Seco to Red River, know the Taos County area pretty well and recently purchased Jay Foley's climb/boulder guide. Psyched to get out and play on some rocks but in need of a climbing partner (with gear). Mainly sport, can climb 5.9 at best. I have personal gear (atc, harness, shoes, helmet) 60m rope, and some webbing, but I do not have my own quickdraws. Oct 27, 2014
yeah george, you got us over the 500 mark! Mar 17, 2016
Trevor H
Steamboat Springs, CO
Trevor H   Steamboat Springs, CO
I'm new to town, and am search of a partner to get out and climb. I have all gear, so if you are just proficient at belaying, or are a seasoned climber, I would be stoked to meet you. Nov 6, 2016
Taos, NM
Orellana   Taos, NM
Hi my name is Caity. I'm new to the Taos area and looking for people to climb with this winter. Would love to boulder, sport, or trad climb! All my climbing info should be in my profile. Hope to meet some new folks! Dec 17, 2016
Zane Winter
Kansas City, MO
Zane Winter   Kansas City, MO
My wife and I are planning a trip to Taos in August; we're looking for some crags that can suit both our tastes. We both climb sport, I'm most comfortable in the 5.11/+ range, and she's looking for .10- and under climbing. We don't have any trad experience. Any advice? PM me! May 20, 2017
Just moved here for the winter to work up at Taos Ski Valley and looking for people to climb with! Mostly Trad and Sport climb but would be down to do a little bouldering as well. I have a rack and rope. Send me a message if you want to meet up! -Lou Nov 29, 2017
Hello! I've been considering a move to either Taos or Santa Fe and I'm wondering what the climbing community is like in Northern New Mexico? Does anyone have an opinion on which is the better town to live in as a climber? How is the access in Taos? Sep 28, 2018
Sam, Santa Fe has a climbing gym and many more climbers than Taos. Taos has more climbing areas and more climbing close to town. Oct 14, 2018