Las Milpas Rd
Difficulty, Trail Type
Beginner, Double Track
Ojito Wilderness Portal Sign
Moderate, Single Track
Moderate, Double Track
Difficult, Single Track
Wilderness Study Area (WSA)
Difficult, Double Track
Severe, Single Track
Zia Lands held in Trust by BIA for Public Use (No Shooting)
Severe, Double Track
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
Rio Puerco Field Office
100 Sun Ave., N.E.
Pan American Bldg., Suite 330
Albuquerque, NM 87109
In case of emergency:
BLM Rio Puerco Law Enforcement – 505/761-8700
Immediate Emergency – 911
BLM 24-hour Santa Fe Law Enforcement – 505/827-9377
For interactive maps and more detailed information about
this area please go to
Welcome to the Ojito Wilderness!
“In wildness is the preservation
of the world.”
-Henry David Thoreau
An hour northwest of Albuquerque is the Ojito Wilderness, a
high desert landscape of wide open spaces and exceptional
beauty. This area of steep-sided mesas, remote box canyons,
meandering arroyos, and austere badlands offers solitude,
tranquility, and escape from the congestion of the city. The
Ojito Wilderness Act of 2005 permanently protects over 11,000
acres of scenic wilderness as a promise to the future that
there will always be places to find beauty and renewal.
Once part of a vast river channel and floodplain complex that
was eventually inundated by inland seas, the Ojito Wilderness
boasts world-renowned fossils—dinosaurs, trees, plants, and
marine invertebrates. Erosion has over time exposed the
bones of huge dinosaurs, large segments of petrified trees, as
well as leaves and seashells. Because these fossils provide
significant information about ancient life, it is important
that they are left undisturbed until they can be collected by
professional paleontologists. Collecting fossils in wilderness
is prohibited by law unless authorized by a permit issued to a
Several human cultures have tried to carve a living from
Ojito’s sparse resources, including the Ancestral Puebloan,
Navajo, and Hispanic cultures. The rugged terrain, rocky soils,
and scarce water supply may have contributed to a difficult
life. The prehistoric and historic ruins and artifacts left by
these inhabitants are the clues that archaeologists use to tell
the story of existence here. The Archaeological Resources
Protection Act and other laws protect both ruins and artifacts.
Please leave them undisturbed for others to enjoy, and for
future archeologists to study.
Ojito’s south and west boundaries are accessible by dirt road.
Always know where you are traveling and where you have been
because it’s easy to get lost in the hundreds of miles of dirt
roads surrounding Ojito.
The steep canyons and rugged cliffs of Ojito can provide
rewarding challenges to experienced hikers, but even novices
can enjoy this spectacular area by venturing just a short
distance from the road. Deep meandering arroyos offer miles
of terrain in which to wander. Visitors can enjoy wildlife
viewing and bird watching, as well as horseback riding,
sightseeing, and photography. Rock layers in the canyon walls
and cliffs enhance all of these activities, especially when
exposed to the sun’s rays at dawn and dusk.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
There are no facilities within or adjacent to the Ojito
Wilderness. The Village of San Ysidro, approximately ten miles
away, offers the closest facilities and services.
Backpacking and primitive camping are allowed, and do not
require a permit. Permits are, however, required for commerical
guiding, outfitting and filming as well as educational and
organized groups. Permit applications are available at the BLM
office in Albuquerque and on-line at blm.gov.
Hunting, managed by the New Mexico State Department of
Game and Fish, is allowed within the Ojito Wilderness. Ojito is
located within New Mexico Big Game Management Unit 9.
From Albuquerque, travel north on I-25 approximately 16 miles
and exit on U.S. 550 (second Bernalillo exit). From Santa Fe,
travel south on I-25 approximately 40 miles to U.S. 550 (first
Bernalillo exit). Travel northwest on U.S. 550 about 20 miles
toward Cuba. About 2 miles before San Ysidro, turn left onto
Cabezon Road (County Road 906) and follow the left fork 10
miles to the Ojito Wilderness sign.
The Ojito Wilderness is a roadless area that visitors must
accept on its own terms. Visitors are responsible for their own
safety and must be prepared to take care of themselves. Cell
phones often don’t work; let someone know your plans.
Water is rare in this dry land and no water is available at most
times within the Ojito Wilderness. Bring plenty of water. Dress
in layers because of the unpredictable weather.
Access roads in the area are passable during dry weather but
they can get slippery and rutted during wet seasons, normally
spring, late summer, and winter.
BLM 1:100,000 land status maps (Albuquerque and Los
Alamos) available at local BLM offices, provide more detail
than the map in this brochure. U.S.G.S. 1:24,000 maps (Ojito
Spring, San Ysidro, Sky Village NE, Sky Village NW) provide
even greater detail for the serious hiker.
Some areas within and near the wilderness boundaries are
private, State, Pueblo of Zia, and Zia Recreational Trust lands.
Be sure to obtain permission before you enter or cross
private or Pueblo lands. The State of New Mexico requires
an annual recreation permit for access to State lands (www.
Zia Recreational Trust is open for primative recreational uses;
however, shooting and cross country driving are not allowed.
Fire restrictions are sometimes placed on BLM lands, including
the Ojito Wilderness; call the BLM Albuquerque office for
information. Camp stoves are recommended.
Wilderness areas are closed to all motorized and mechanical
forms of transportation, including mountain bikes.
All visitors and users of the Ojito Wilderness are subject to
Federal recreation regulations found in 43 CFR 6300 and
8360, and Supplementary Rules for Designated Recreation
Sites, Special Management Areas, and Other Public Lands in
the Albuquerque District Office. In addition, there are specific
Federal and State laws protecting such resources as fossils,
archeological resources, plants, and mineral resources, as well
as governing general visitor conduct. It is your responsibility to
know and obey the laws, rules, and regulations.
Protecting land as wilderness is a legacy to the future. When
you visit a wilderness, you should be aware of your impacts on
the land and keep these impacts to a minimum. The Leave No
Trace Program was developed to provide guiding principles for
backcountry uses of all types to address such impacts. The
Leave No Trace principles include:
Plan ahead and prepare
Camp and travel on durable surfaces
Pack it in, pack it out
Properly dispose of what you can’t pack out
Leave what you find
Minimize use and impacts of campfires
Be considerate to other visitors