Geotourism Mapguide: A travel guide to the places most respected and recommended by locals.
  Hiking Trail or Trailhead

Aztec Sandstone Arches

With nearly 300 documented natural sandstone arches and windows in the immediate area, Aztec underscores the ethereal, Nikon-prompting beauty of the American Southwest. Search out breathtaking Arch Rock in Hart Canyon, or visit spectacular Anasazi Arch in in Cox Canyon. GPS directions and maps are available at the Aztec Visitor Center or a

Trail Distance: Varied depending on locale. Hikes are from 100-feet to more than a half-mile from roads.

 ADA Accessibility Notes

The land is owned by BLM and no formal trails have been established.  Some arches are visible from the road, and many require easy, moderate or difficult hikes to access.

 Eco-Friendly Notes

Many regional back-country roads, commonly referred to as oil and gas roads, are not maintained by any governmental agency. During or after inclement weather these roads can become rutted, bumpy and very slippery. Getting stuck or worse is a very real possibility, so we encourage the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles. Additionally, oil and gas roads change frequently—new roads are added when new wells are drilled. For added safety and comfort:

  • Pack food and water (take more than you expect).
  • Drive dependable transportation (with ample fuel).
  • Take a first-aid kit, sunscreen, compass and GPS.
  • Pack a topographical map.
  • Charge your cell phone.
  • Wear seasonal clothing.
  • Be aware of rattlesnakes.


 Pet Friendly Notes

Dogs are permitted on hikes, but be aware of rattlesnakes, pump jacks and cactus.

For More Information, Contact:

Aztec Visitors Center
110 N. Ash, Aztec, NM 87410
(505) 334-9551 · toll-free 1-888-543-GOAZTECNM

Hendon Harris wrote on November 17, 2013: For months I have tried unsuccessfully until last night to discover if there was a possible connection between Anasazi Arch, Delicate Arch and ancient Vedic Buddhism. Last night I found what I had been seeking. Hindu and Buddhist arches are known by the Sanskrit name "Torana". If you have wondered why the Navajo Nation sued the U.S. government in an effort to among other reasons stop tourists from walking underneath Rainbow Bridge there is a reason based on an ancient Vedic religious belief. According to Himalayan Art: Subject-Torana (Arch, Decorative Throne Back) "A torana can be described as a gate, gateway, arch, throne-back, backrest, or decorative niche surrounding a diety, god, buddha .....". "However, there are actually three parts that make up the visual object of the torana: the (1) arch above, the (2) side supports and the (3) foundation (throne, lotus). In other words then the arch is simply the frame for sacred ground on which a throne sits. That would then explain the focused determination by the Navajo and the other tribes to which Rainbow Bridge is sacred ground to prevent tourists from casually walking across that ground. Is the reason that they are not working as diligently to prevent it at Delicate Arch, Anasazi Arch and scores of other arch type structures throughout the Four Corners that the "cow was already out of the barn" at those other sites and that they have been decommissioned as religious sites years ago. It would sure be nice if western scholars tasked with researching these things weren't for all intents and purposes prohibited from doing so. These scholars are not open to even considering any theory of Pre Columbian America that has anything to do with migration or diffusion. Read Steve Lekson's online article: "Diffusions & Histories/ The Southwest and the World". Is this reluctance to study alternative theories of ancient America really about protecting the accuracy of the historical record or is it about maintaining the continuity of the 500 year old version of the European account at the expense of the truth?

Hendon Harris wrote on November 01, 2013: Anasazi Arch is a beautiful rock formation indeed. Very similar to Delicate Arch in many ways including what appears to have been cuts near the bottom of all four arch legs, the symetrical archs themselves In each case are breathtaking. We are told that these two arches and scores of other "landbridges" and "windows"are the result of random erosion. Why are these highly unusual rock formations seemingly largely concentrated in the Four Corners and China? Google: "Tour of the Big 14" and "Mandalas, Mantras, Manjis and Monuments". Arches play a significant role in Vedic Buddhism. "Dimensions of Dine (Navajo) and Buddhist Traditions".

John Geiss wrote on July 23, 2013: Watch for snakes! We found a nice little ratler protecting an arch. They don't always rattle likein the movies so take a stick and poke around bushes and watch your step. Also bring water because it can be hot in the summer but it is very worth while searching for these arches

Douglas Tooley wrote on May 30, 2012: I wish I could edit my comment above. The 'Puma Castle' is located on Pump Canyon, and you should access that map, above, to see the obvious cluster.

Douglas Tooley wrote on May 30, 2012: There is a great collection of arches which I've dubbed 'Puma Castle' due a Cougar sighting a SW Conservation Corp Crew working in the area made when I was exploring the area winter of 2011/12. The cluster is obvious on the map. Parking is at a somewhat brushy excavated area just after you cross the Pump Canyon Wash. There is a pipeline right of way that leads downstream and I've cairned a fun route through the two small 'wings' of the 'castle'. These are mostly smaller arches, with one mid-sized arch.

Jim Kursch wrote on March 16, 2012: Thanks for the info. My wife and I are living in Cedar Hill for 6 months and I have been trying to learn about area geology. We had heard about arches in Cedar Hill. Now we will know how to find them. Thanks again.

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Boundaries and names shown do not necessarily reflect the map policy of National Geographic.

Latitude: 36.812112000
Longitude: -107.871221000
Elevation: 6477 FT (1974 M)
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