Northwest New Mexico exemplifies the spirit of New Mexico's motto of the "Land of Enchantment." The landscape is diverse from steep canyons to rolling badlands throughout the San Juan and Rio Arriba counties. The vast network of canyons offer many opportunities to explore and discover the natural and cultural wonders.
To date more than 400 natural arches have been documented in San Juan County alone. What is a natural arch? As defined by the Natural Arch and Bridge Society (NABS), "a natural arch is a rock exposure that has a hole completely through it formed by the natural, selective removal of rock, leaving a relatively intact frame." To learn more about natural arches, please visit the NABS website.
For purposes of classification, the arches have been classified on the following Metric Attibutes as established by NABS:
Miniature = all opening dimensions are smaller than 1 meter (3.28 feet).
Minor = one or more opening dimensions are at least 1 meter (3.28 feet).
Significant = the product of any two orthogonal opening dimensions is at least 10 square meters (107.64 sq ft).
Major = having a span of 50 meters or more (164 feet).
To help the outdoor adventurers' exploration, the area has been divided into three regions. Click on the links to explore the canyons in each of these regions. Each region will have specific canyon tours, maps and other arch information.
Interested in learning more about natural arches and bridges? Visit the Natural Arch and Bridge Society website (www.naturalarches.org) and become a member. For more information on Arches in our region, contact "the Archer", Larry Beck at (505) 235-0965 or email .
Enjoy your adventure and remember the following on your exploration:
The arches are hundreds, even thousands of years old, many are fragile and irreplaceable and your help is needed to preserve them for future generations to enjoy.
Do not climb on the arches.
Pack out your trash.
Report any vandalism to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hot line at 505-564-7600.
Maps and directions are for information only and are provided "as is" without warranty or any representation of accuracy, or timeliness of completeness.
A 4-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle is highly recommended, with a full tank of gas.
Pack a lunch or high engery snacks and bring lots of water.
Check the weather before heading out. Roads may become impassable when wet.
Do not cross any washes that have water running in them. You may get stuck or swept away.
The roads used to access the sites are oil & gas field roads. Be aware of large trucks and keep to the right of the road on hills and blind corners.
Cell phone service is not available in some areas.
Visit these sites at your own risk. The BLM, the City of Aztec Visitor Center and their employees are not responsible for injuries or damages to personal property.