The Sangre de Cristo Mountains
The Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range is one of the longest ranges on Earth. It stretches from Poncha Pass in Central Colorado to Glorieta Pass southeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Sangres consist of ten 14,000-foot peaks and more than two dozen 13,000-foot peaks.
Hundreds of miles of excellent alpine hiking trails weave throughout the San Isabel, Rio Grande, Carson, and Santa Fe National Forests—all located in the Sangres! The Sangre de Cristo, Wheeler Peak, Latir Peaks, Pecos, and Spanish Peaks National Wilderness Areas are also located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range.
Some of the world’s best rock climbing, downhill skiing, and whitewater rafting can be found in the Sangres. Hunters love bagging elk and bighorn sheep in the Sangres and fishermen have incredible luck in the range’s numerous lakes, rivers, and streams.
Cool fact: The Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range (Spanish for Blood of Christ) may have gotten its name from the occasional reddish hues observed during sunrise and sunset and when alpenglow occurs, especially when snow covers the mountains.
The Sangre de Cristos are fault block mountains with major fault lines running along the east and west sides of the mountains and, in places, cutting right through them.
The mountains were pushed up about 27 million years ago as one big chunk of rock. The San Luis Valley runs along the west side of the mountains, Raton basin sits on the southeast side, the Wet Mountains and the Front Range are to the northeast, and the Rio Grande Rift Zone runs down the middle.
Although the main body of the Sangres is composed of Permian-Pennsylvanian rock—a 250-million-year-old mixture of igneous intrusions, conglomerates, and shale—areas of pre-Cambrian rock rose during the Colorado Orogeny 1.7 billion years ago.
Sangre de Cristo subranges include the Sangre de Cristo Range, the Crestones, the Spanish Peaks, the Culebra Range, The Taos Mountains, the Cimarron Range, the Rincon Mountains, and the Santa Fe Mountains.