Ojito Wilderness is within the desert of New Mexico. The wilderness area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and consists of 11,823 acres. Elevations within the wilderness range from 5600 feet to about 6200 feet. Visitors will see many canyons, arroyos, sandstone and limestone outcrops, and escarpments throughout the desert landscape. Many artifacts and archeological sites are within the wilderness area.
The wilderness is an easy day trip from Santa Fe and Albuquerque, though there are many campgrounds nearby for those wanting to stay overnight or those driving a long distance to the wilderness. Visitors come to enjoy hikes throughout the wilderness, both long and short. Take the short hike to the excavation site of a Seismosaurus skeleton, head into one of the arroyos, or hike up to higher elevations. Horses are permitted within the wilderness.
Visitors to Ojito Wilderness should come prepared with plenty of water for themselves as well as pets such as dogs and horses. There are no water sources in the wilderness. Dispersed camping is permitted within the wilderness, however, vehicles are not. Those with RVs or trailers can find camping accommodations in one of many nearby campgrounds at the nearby national forest or the KOA.
Ojito Wilderness is in New Mexico, a little over an hour away from Albuquerque and about an hour and a half away from Santa Fe. Drivers heading to Ojito Wilderness from either city should take I-25 to U.S. 550. From U.S. 550 take Cabezon Road, following it to the left. You’ll soon come to the Ojito Wilderness sign. From there, wilderness boundaries are accessed by dirt roads.
There are hundreds of miles of dirt roads that serve as boundaries to Ojito Wilderness. Cell phone service can be spotty. Visitors will want to bring a map to ensure they don’t get lost. The dirt access roads should be passable when they’re dry. During and after rainfall, the roads can become slick, muddy, and rutted. It’s advisable to avoid these roads during periods of rain or snowfall.
There are some areas in the wilderness boundaries that aren’t BLM land. These sections are owned privately, by the Pueblo of Zia, and the state. Before crossing into non-BLM lands, ensure that you have permission or if state land, a recreation permit.
Another campground option is the Albuquerque North/Bernalillo KOA. The KOA is a little over 30 miles away from Ojito Wilderness. Many other attractions are close by the KOA, including Balloon Fiesta Park and the Santa Ana Star Casino Complex. The KOA is open year-round and offers a variety of campsite options and modern amenities.
Large RVs should have no trouble fitting into the spacious campsites, with 100 feet as the longest pull-through site available. Some campsites have water and electric hookups only, while others have full hookups. Campsites with 15, 30, or 50-amp electrical hookups are offered. If your campsite doesn’t have a sewer connection, there is a dump station on-site.
There are many activities and campground luxuries to enjoy during downtime. Take a swim in the pool that is open from May to October each year. Looking to play a game? The KOA has horseshoes, croquet, volleyball, and a basketball court. Campers with dogs can take their dog to the dog park. Other amenities offered at the KOA include laundry facilities, a pavilion, and WiFi.
Ojito Wilderness has many hiking opportunities including two designated trails, Seismosaurus Trail and Hoodoo Trail. The Seismosaurus Trail is just under one mile long and takes visitors to an excavation site where the skeleton of a Seismosaurus dinosaur was found.
The Hoodoo Trail is a little over three miles in length. Before reaching an overlook, the trail leads under the Beralillito Mesa and past many beautiful sandstone outcrops. There are also many opportunities for hiking off-trail in the wilderness. Hikers may want to explore the many miles of deep arroyos or venture to higher elevations to find scenic views.
Equestrians will enjoy exploring the terrain and landscape on horseback. Horses are permitted on both the Seismosaurus and Hoodoo Trails. Elevations at the wilderness range from 5,600 to 6,200 feet, leaving equestrians with many areas to explore and stunning views to find.
There are no water sources within the wilderness. Equestrians will need to bring plenty of water for themselves as well as their horses.
Non-commercial hunting is allowed within the wilderness. However, hunters should be aware of their surroundings and be courteous of other visitors. Popular game that attracts hunters to the wilderness includes deer and elk.
Hunting regulations are managed and enforced by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. For visitors planning a hunting trip to the area, Ojito Wilderness is part of New Mexico Big Game Management Unit 9.
Whether you’re a birding enthusiast or hoping to catch sight of larger animals, Ojito Wilderness is home to many different types of wildlife. Hawks, eagles, swifts, and swallows are just a few types of birds that are known to and nest the wilderness.
Mule deer, antelope, elk, and mountain lion also roam throughout the wilderness. Visitors should take safety precautions while exploring the wilderness. If encountered, do not approach any wildlife.
Dinosaurs once roamed in this area, including within the Ojito Wilderness. The skeleton of a Seismosaurus, one of the largest dinosaur skeletons, was discovered within the wilderness. Many other plant and animal fossils remain in the wilderness.
While these fossils are fun to see, they should be left alone. Any findings should be reported to the BLM office so they can be studied by paleontologists.
Ojito Wilderness has a rich history. Many ruins remain in the wilderness from Puebloan, Navajo, and Hispanic people who once lived in the area. Though the presence of these cultures in the area is known, very little is known about their lives in the region. Visitors to the wilderness may come across ruins and artifacts. Removing artifacts or other archeological findings is against the law. Findings should be reported to the BLM office.