Caja del Rio to La Bajada Mesa-USFS 24

Total Miles


2112.66 ft



Technical Rating



Best Time

spring, summer, fall, winter



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Trail Overview

The Caja del Rio Road (#24) is a 23-mile drive across the Caja del Rio Plateau to La Bajada Mesa. It ends with a large escarpment dropping 1000 feet to the valley below with the Pueblo de Cochiti and Pueblo of Santa Domingo reservations. The views for miles from here on a clear day are tremendous with some cellular service. The Caja del Rio (Box of the River) or Caja as it is called, is a dissected plateau of volcanic origin covering 84,000 acres west of Santa Fe, NM. These are considered sacred lands to this day for the area's pueblo Indians. The landscape is a rolling terrain of pinon-juniper savannah with grasslands made up of sage, wildflowers and mixed grasses. The road is very dry and dusty, however can become wet and muddy during rainy seasons prompting closure. Upon arriving at the USFS road, there is a spot immediately to the right to air down if inclined as this is a rough road the further traveled. This first area has a few loop roads with areas for primitive camping. The El Camino Real Tierra de Adventro trail passes alongside this area. The first 2-3 miles of the road also offer some pull off spaces and side roads for primitive camping accessible by most vehicles. After that the road becomes rougher and high clearance vehicles are recommended. At about mile 6 and again at mile 7 the road makes transitions that are a little rougher with small rocks. Cattle are grazing in areas with some side roads leading to water tanks for them and corrals. At about mile 15 be aware there is a tremendous sink/mudhole with bypasses on either side. Cellular service is very limited if available depending upon location and carrier.



Technical Rating


Access Description

From the NM Hwy 599 access road in Santa Fe turn onto Caja del Rio paved road. Follow it for 3 miles to county road 62 west and turn left. Continue for 1.2 miles to a cattle guard and the beginning of the Caja del Rio trail SFNF #24.