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Ponderosa Bouldering

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Big Cat Canyon (a.k.a. Spider Canyon) 
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Ponderosa Bouldering Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 6,500'
Location: 35.6857, -106.6564 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Brian Quiter on Aug 3, 2008
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bouldering at the pond, sign of the cross boulder


Ponderosa is acclaimed as the best bouldering in New Mexico. Climbing ranges from thin face problems to steep overhung burl-fests with both lowball and highball climbing. The rock is volcanic tuff, but quite different from the popular tuff area, the Happys in California. Ponderosa doesn't have the thick and solid patina layer that the Happys does. Where there is thick patina here, it is probably choss. But where the patina is thin, it is awesome and very grainy, making for excellent pocketed face climbs. Conversely, the climbing on the underside of the boulders is quite similar to the Happys.

There appear to be classics here of all difficulties. I can't really vouch for the harder climbs, but Marc Beverly's "Jemez Rock" book covers the area well, and vouches for the quality of climbing. That said, his book also has many omissions and I noticed a couple errors.

That Beverly's book has omissions isn't really a bad thing... there are a LOT of boulders with obvious problems he doesn't document, but know they are there!

The setting is pleasant once you get away from the road - I encountered abandoned used diapers in the parking area (yuck) but the boulders are surrounded by Pinons and generally nice scenery on a gentle hillside.

It appears that people have camped under boulders, I'm not sure whether this is permitted, but there is certainly camping nearby. Just up the road is a national forest campground. Suds are available in Ponderosa, and there are more services on Hwy 4.

Getting There 

From any direction, the easiest way to get to Ponderosa is via Highway 4, then go east in northern Jemez Pueblo on Highway 290 aka Forest Road 10 towards the town of Ponderosa. After you pass the only bar in Ponderosa, it is 2.6 miles to the parking area. After you pass an irrigation pond, look for the turn to the left. This is parking for the lower area. I can't tell you how to get to the upper area because I haven't been.

From the north, it is easier to turn left off of Highway 4 near the mailboxes between mile markers 33 and 34. There's also a sign saying to turn left here for Ponderosa. From here, you follow Forest Road 10 for ~15 miles, hoping you stay on FR 10 and not some other road. I went this way, but I can't tell you the exact mileage because at one point, the signs indicating you're still on 10 become rare and the road gets worse (and I turned around to see if any other roads were better - they weren't). But if you follow the straight-looking way at any intersection, you'll get there. After ~13 miles, you come upon the aforementioned national forest campground, then right before the pond, turn a soft right into the parking area.

From the gate at the end of the parking area, follow the 'road' westward towards the north end of the pond. From here, most boulders are further west, climbing a gentle ridge via a good trail, however the Cube is more northward (and visible) up the wash.

The GPS location is somewhere in the middle of the climbing.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.5 miles from here

145 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',12],['3 Stars',62],['2 Stars',47],['1 Star',21],['Bomb',1]

Classic Climbing Routes in Ponderosa Bouldering

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Ponderosa Bouldering:
KFAD arete   V2 5+     Boulder, 14'   The Pond : King for a Day Boulder
Daytona   V2-3 5+     Boulder, 12'   The Pond : NASCAR Boulder
Picture Perfect   V3 6A     Boulder, 15'   The Pond : Picture Perfect Boulder
Sick On Hydrox   V3 6A     Boulder   The Pond : King for a Day Boulder
Spitoon AKA: The Scoop   V3 6A     Boulder, 15'   The Pond : The Scoop Boulder
Fannie Mae   V3 6A     Boulder, 15'   The Pond : Fannie Mae
Cowboy Up, AKA: The Tall Arete   V4 6B     Boulder, 20'   The Pond : The Scoop Boulder
Dot Dot Space, AKA: V5 Arête   V5- 6C     Boulder, 25'   The Pond : King for a Day Boulder
Scuttlebutt   V5 6C     Boulder   Big Cat Canyon (a.k.a. Spid...
Pinball Simulator/ First Arete   V6 7A     Boulder, 15'   The Satellite : Pinball Simulator Area
King for a Day   V7 7A+     Boulder   The Pond : King for a Day Boulder
What's the Scoop   V7 7A+     Boulder, 15'   Upper Deck : Lost Descent
Scoop   V7 7A+     Boulder, 12'   The Satellite : Pinball Simulator Area
NASCAR traverse   V7 7A+     Boulder, 20'   The Pond : NASCAR Boulder
Mario Andretti finish   V7 7A+     Boulder, 10'   The Pond : NASCAR Boulder
The Valsalva Maneuver AKA: Left Pinball Simulator   V9-10 7C+     Boulder, 15'   The Satellite : Pinball Simulator Area
Mario Andretti   V10+ 7C+     Boulder, 35'   The Pond : NASCAR Boulder
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Ponderosa Bouldering

Featured Route For Ponderosa Bouldering
Rock Climbing Photo: Eric slapping some slopers at the start of the NAS...

NASCAR traverse V7 7A+  New Mexico : Jemez Mountains and Jemez V... : ... : NASCAR Boulder
Start on the furthest left holds on the sloping shelf and traverse to the blunt arete, bail at V5 or do a few more moves untill you can reach up to a left hand sidepull with difficulty and do a commiting and difficult barndoor move to the lip. The mantle is not super easy....[more]   Browse More Classics in New Mexico

Photos of Ponderosa Bouldering Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: wake up, nice camping close by.
wake up, nice camping close by.
Rock Climbing Photo: swiss cheese, upper deck
swiss cheese, upper deck
Rock Climbing Photo: problem near nascar, again
problem near nascar, again
Rock Climbing Photo: problem near nascar boulder
problem near nascar boulder
Rock Climbing Photo: classic arete slab
classic arete slab

Comments on Ponderosa Bouldering Add Comment
Show which comments
By LeeAB Brinckerhoff
From: ABQ, NM
Feb 12, 2009
When leaving Ponderosa after a day of climbing, if it is before 5pm, stop on your way out of town at the Ponderosa Winery at the end of town closest to Hwy 4. You can sample their wines, some of there stuff is pretty good.
By Rich Heisler
Jan 10, 2010
From what I understand the Beverly book doesn't give much attention to the Pond boulders. We were never really talked to by him other than a brief email about what all is out there, names, grades, etc from 1999 to 2004. There were hundreds of problems done in the Pond alone, not to mention the various areas up both roads in the forest service lands.

In the Pond, if it is under v11/12 and isn't crumbly and dirty, it had been climbed in those years (not so much the Upper Deck, we rarely ventured up there). We had checked back about earlier history and the place saw little action before 1998. We even got in touch with the legendary Bob Murray to see what had been done and he never went there. Hard to believe. I have added just a few standouts to the database here.

I wish they had taken the real time to consult with the main developers before putting out that guidebook.
By George Perkins
From: The Dungeon, NM
Aug 8, 2010
FS road 269 is currently gated (August 2010), with a sign that says "Closed for Resource Protection". This would make it a hassle to get to the Corral, Range, Booty Box, Sweat Box.
By Paul Davidson
Aug 11, 2010
Just a little clarification regarding Bob's use of the Pond and surronding areas.
An earlier statement makes it sound like Bob did nothing in this area. Bob (and a handful of others) did hundreds of problems in the Ponderosa area starting around '89-90; just nothing at the Pond itself.

Bob is as non-confrontational as you can get and does not like going anywhere near private land. He figured the Pond area was on private land and so stayed away. Plenty of other rock out there to occupy him. He did do a few things at the Pond itself one afternoon but was too uncomfortable with the private land issue to go back to that immediate area.

In the early/mid '70s, Doug Bridger, Ron Beauchamp, et others were camping in the area and did a small bit up FS 269 and out left on the jeep trail before the corral.

Edit- Isn't FS 269 closed due to the washed out bridge near the little campground ? Is the current closure at the first gate location as you start up the first small hill or closer out to the Corral area?
By George Perkins
From: The Dungeon, NM
Aug 11, 2010
It's closed at the first gate as you start up the first hill on FS 269 (San Juan Rd.), within a couple hundred yards of turning off the paved road (290) and crossing the small stream.

I don't know the reasons behind this, or when/if it will reopen. (You may be able to hike in from the gate, or from the Pond, but maybe they don't want people hiking in either.)

No problem getting to the Pond (or Satellite).
By Owen Summerscales
From: Los Alamos, NM
Sep 30, 2013
San Juan Road (lower part of FS269) looks like its closed for good now, it has vanished off the latest FS maps

So access to coral is by foot now - 1 mile hike in on a nice road. Access to range from north end of 269.

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