San Andres Mountains

The San Andres Mountains are a mountain range in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico, in the counties of Socorro, Sierra, and Doña Ana. The range extends about 75 miles (120 km) north to south, but are only about 12 miles (19 km) wide at their widest. The highest peak in the San Andres Mountains is Salinas Peak, at 8,965 feet (2,733 m).

San Andres Mountains
Black and Bennett Mts. on the southeastern end of the San Andres Mountains
Highest point
PeakSalinas Peak
Elevation8,965 ft (2,733 m)
Coordinates33°17′55″N 106°31′53″W
Length75 mi (121 km) N-S
Width12 mi (19 km) W-E
Location of the San Andres Mountains within New Mexico
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico
Borders onOrgan Mountains
Type of rockLimestone


Though nearly contiguous with the Organ Mountains to the south, the two are very distinct geologically and botanically. The Oscura Mountains to the north are separated from the San Andres Mountains by Mockingbird Gap and the much lower Little Burro Mountains. The San Andres Mountains are comparatively dry and do not support any extensive woodlands. They are mostly closed to the public, lying almost entirely within the restricted White Sands Missile Range.


The San Andres Mountains form part of the eastern edge of the rift valley of the Rio Grande, and are made up of west-dipping fault blocks made primarily of San Andres Formation limestone, but also with extensive exposures of reddish Abo Formation sandstone on the western side, and quartz monzonite on the eastern side.[1] Gypsum deposits washed from these mountains are the main source of the dunes in White Sands National Monument.

Significant summits include:[2]

Mountain Height (ft) Height (m) Coordinates Prominence (ft)
Salinas Peak 8,965 2,733 33.2986°N 106.5315°W / 33.2986; -106.5315 3,625
San Andres Peak 8,235 2,510 32.6760°N 106.5369°W / 32.6760; -106.5369 2,525
Chalk Hills High Point 7,988 2,435 33.1796°N 106.7226°W / 33.1796; -106.7226 1,728
Unnamed Peak 7,646 2,331 32.9045°N 106.5803°W / 32.9045; -106.5803 1,899
Gardner Peak 7,534 2,296 32.8242°N 106.5624°W / 32.8242; -106.5624 2,052
Black Brushy Mountain 7,521 2,292 32.5976°N 106.5189°W / 32.5976; -106.5189 1,701
Capitol Peak 7,098 2,163 33.4068°N 106.4249°W / 33.4068; -106.4249 1,833

Desert bighorn sheep

The biggest and best desert bighorn sheep habitat in New Mexico is in the San Andres Mountains, which can host up to 400 bighorn.[3] An area of 57,215 acres (231.54 km2) in the southern portion of the San Andres Mountain range was set aside in 1941 as the San Andres National Wildlife Refuge[4] to help preserve the desert bighorn sheep, which at the time numbered 33. In the mid 1970s there were around 200 sheep in the refuge;[3] however, in 1979, a scabies mite epizootic reduced the population from 200 to 75.[3] Subsequent years brought further declines from scabies and other causes until the population consisted of one ewe in 1997. Reintroduction of desert bighorn sheep occurred in 2002 and the herd has now about 80 members.[5]


  1. Butterfield, Mike, and Greene, Peter, Mike Butterfield's Guide to the Mountains of New Mexico, New Mexico Magazine Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-937206-88-1
  2. NM peaks on Lists of John Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  3. New Mexico Game & Fish (2002) "Desert bighorn sheep" Wildlife Notes Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  4. San Andres National Wildlife Refuge official webpage
  5. "Desert Bighorn Sheep" San Andres National Wildlife Refuge, March 2007
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