Sandoval County Highpoint Trip Report

Redondo Peak (11,254 feet)

Date: June 2003
Author: anonymous

Note 1: All NAD27 UTM coordinates are in zone 13S.

Note 2: "VC" expands to "Valles Caldera" wherever found in the text.
Hyperlinks to the VCNP website should be altered by expanding "vc" as described in this note.


Redondo Peak is the highest remnant (within Sandoval County) of an ancient, large caldera spectacularly situated in the Santa Fe National Forest. In recognition of the region's geological significance and in order to preserve its natural state, 89,000 acres of the former Baca Ranch was purchased by the American people on June 25, 2000 - the VC Preservation Act. Details of the VC National Preserve (VCNP) can be found by following this hyperlink.

This change of ownership dramatically simplifies access to Redondo Peak - "open dates" are available for legally hiking on the VCNP: please refer to this page for details. The specific hike of interest is the "El Cajete" hike since the endpoint of this hike, the El Cajete meadow, sets one up for a straightforward assault on Redondo Peak from its southern flanks.


New Mexico route 4, the "Jemez Highway", courses through the southern end of the VCNP. I brought a printed receipt of my ticket as purchased electronically from the VCNP website. Parking is on the north side of Route 4, near milepost 32, just east of the crossing of the east fork of the Jemez River. This location is indicated on your hiking reservation receipt.

One may conveniently camp at the Jemez Falls Campground - the entrance about one-half mile west of the suggested parking location at the Jemez River overpass. The fee is $10 and the gated entrance opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m.


The El Cajete hike is unguided. You may begin anytime from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and exit the Preserve anytime before sundown. According to the VCNP description, "...Picnic in the meadow at El Cajete and enjoy the prarie dog entertainment or just go as far as you like and head back...".

It is roughly a seven hundred foot elevation gain from the suggested parking location to the spacious El Cajete meadow - one whose west edge is given by waypoint W below - where a jeep road meets the meadow as it courses out of the west.

Once in the meadow the mountain's bulk is obvious to the north. Although there are numerous ways to proceed at this point, one option is to walk across the meadow and head north on a jeep road to the base of a prominent ravine that heads northeast and separates Redondo Peak from a pair of subpeaks shown as 10,015 ft and 10,097 ft on the topo chart.

To this end, hike up the jeep road to waypoint J at about 8,800 ft, and then bushwhack northeast to the ravine's base with waypoint R1 (9,250 ft) partway up the ravine as goal. At waypoint J the ravine splits in two. Keep to the right to avoid going up the steeper left branch. At about 9,600 ft the ravine curves to the north and tops out at waypoint R2 (10,200 ft).

You are now on the upper slopes of Redondo Peak. The summit is perhaps one mile to the northwest and is attained from waypoint R2 by maintaining a heading of 325° true. The summit is very broad. Fortunately I have saved the summit benchmark as waypoint S. Else, you might find yourself wandering hither-and-yon in search of the very highest point.

Return the route of ascent. From waypoint P the net elevation gain is 3,300 feet. Owing to a short, fifty vertical feet downhill segment upon entering El Cajete, the total elevation gain is 3,400 feet.

I strongly recommend climbing this peak on an open date rather than suffer the very stiff penalties imposed by New Mexico law. Please note that Redondo Peak above the ten thousand foot contour is claimed sacred by the Jemez Indians. Act accordingly.

Note: A later hiker from the summer of 2003 reports an armed ranger was encountered during the hike to the El Cajete meadow. The VCNP is patrolled, and there is a reasonable chance that you may need to show your hiking permit at some point during your visit. Visiting without a permit is not recommended.

Addendum: In calendar 2004 the "El Cajete" hike is no longer listed on the VCNP website. Plan accordingly.

GPS Waypoint (Easting, Northing) Topo chart (waypoint at cursor)
************ **************** *********
P (356418 E, 3965799 N) click here
W (358536 E, 3966677 N) click here
J (359095 E, 3967897 N) click here
R1 (359796 E, 3968486 N) click here
R2 (360136 E, 3969400 N) click here
S (359156 E, 3970670 N) click here