Natural sandstone arches of New Mexico

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Natural sandstone arches of New Mexico

Hidden gems lurk south of the Colorado state line in summer and winter
Elegant and exquisite, isolated Anasazi Arch rises from its mother stone in a perfect catenary curve.
TOP: A route to Anasazi Arch. From the parking area hike north to the arch. Optional hikes are indicated with a blue line.
Left: A route to Octopus and Cedar Hills arches. From the parking pullout, walk east and climb a bluff. Ascend northeast into the San Jose Formation. A short loop serves both arches.
Travel basics

Travel to Anasazi Arch: Drive south on U.S. Highway 550 to the New Mexico stateline. Just south of mile marker 171, turn west on San Juan County Road 2300, a dirt road. Bear right on CR 2310 in 1.2 miles and then stay on the main road. Just past a large oil and gas facility, turn right at 3.8 miles. Take the left fork at four miles and park. Roads can be very slippery and even impassible when wet but are suitable for two-wheel-drive when dry.


Travel to Octopus Arch: The access road to Octopus is about two miles south of the turnoff for Anasazi. Right after U.S. 550 crosses the Animas River, take the first left on San Juan CR 2390. In 2.2 miles, park in a two-car pullout on the left side of the road.


Distance and Elevation Gain: Anasazi Arch is half a mile roundtrip with 160 feet of gain; optional hikes will add another mile. Octopus and Cedar Hills arches are 1.5 miles total with 400 feet of climbing.


Total Time for Each Hike: 1 to 2 hours


Difficulty: Off-trail; navigation moderate; Class 2-plus with mild exposure


Arch Geology and Information: The arches are located in the San Jose Formation of the Eocene age. More than 400 arches have been cataloged in northern New Mexico by Larry Beck, president of the Natural Arch and Bridge Society. Arch statistics are sited from a National Geographic publication featuring sandstone arches near Aztec. (https://bit.ly/2NkmZrr)


Maps: Cedar Hill, New Mexico; Mount Nebo, New Mexico-Colorado 7.5’ USGS Quada

Natural sandstone arches of New Mexico

Elegant and exquisite, isolated Anasazi Arch rises from its mother stone in a perfect catenary curve.
TOP: A route to Anasazi Arch. From the parking area hike north to the arch. Optional hikes are indicated with a blue line.
Left: A route to Octopus and Cedar Hills arches. From the parking pullout, walk east and climb a bluff. Ascend northeast into the San Jose Formation. A short loop serves both arches.
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