Scenic USA - New Mexico

Brazos Cliffs

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Brazos Cliffs - Chama, New Mexico

Photos by Roger Gillette

     The Brazos Cliffs, just south of the Colorado border, are made up of some of the oldest rock found in New Mexico dating back 1.8 billion years. Created largely by volcanoes, the Precambrian quartzite cliffs rise upward from their base over 2000 feet. Local peaks nearby Chama are part of the Tusas Mountains. This barrier ridge is so tall, reaching 11,000 feet elevation, it diverts winds and storms from the eastern Great Plains.
     Here in northern New Mexico, the San Juan Range is an extension of the Rocky Mountain Frontal Range, covering 10,000 square miles. Local peaks nearby Chama are part of the Tusas Mountains. This barrier ridge is so tall, reaching 11,000 feet, it diverts winds and storms from the eastern Great Plains.
     This view of the Brazos Cliffs is seen from Route 64, heading east from Tierra Amarilla. The high point of the range is on Grouse Mesa where Brazos Benchmark tops out at 11,405 feet. To the southeast is a more distinctive Brazos Peak. Here the cliffs begin to gradually fade in height, with the Encinado Wedge reaching only 1000 feet. With all this bare rock exposed, there's no doubt it has enticed many avid rock climbers. In fact the first technical climb was made by George Bell back in 1952. For the next 20 years George and Ginny Bell explored the entire area. During this period Los Alamos Mountaineer members established 45 routes among these cliffs. Unfortunately for climbers, the Brazos are now on private property.
     Los Ojos, the springs, is located at the base of the cliffs. The small ranching community was settled in 1860 and was one of the first permanent settlements in the area. Continuing east, Route 64 winds through the Carson National Forest and on to a well preserved, Taos Pueblo, established before the 1400s. This entire area, filled with spectacular mountain views and dozens of historic landmarks, can keep sightseers busy for days.

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