Topographic Maps of New Mexico

Maps are incredibly useful tools when exploring the bootheel of New Mexico, but finding the right map can be time consuming.  Fortunately there are online resources that can help.  Google, Yahoo, and Bing all have satellite maps available but for hiking a good topographic map is invaluable.  Current topographic maps can be downloaded and viewed from the New Mexico Search and Rescue Resources, but another useful resource are historical topographic maps.

When trying to trace place names, historical topographic maps often have information not found on current maps.  For example, this weeks hike with the Portal Rodeo Hiking Club was up a canyon know locally as Mouser Canyon.  But in preparation of the hiking map, photographs, and posts it was necessary to know the correct spelling and that required finding any references to the place name.  If you are new to the area or do not have family that homesteaded in the bootheel, place names can often be confusing especially if the place name is used in a set of directions.  Below are 2 topographic maps, one historical and one current showing the same area around this weeks hike.  Note that the historical topographic map, originally made in 1919 shows Mouser Place in the Animas Valley and a trail headed up to the saddle where the hiking club stopped for lunch.  When the same area on the current topographic map is viewed, Mouser Place does not appear.  Historical topographic maps of New Mexico are available through the Perry-CastaƱeda Library Map Collection.  

It is also interesting to note that the saddle is also known as Antelope Pass.  Highway 9 just a couple of mines to the north also traverses an Antelope Pass on it's way to Animas New Mexico.  The northern Antelope Pass is a much larger pass through the Peloncillo mountains and the location of the first airfield in the San Simon Valley.

Finally, a useful site to find information concerning landownership, specifically public versus private land is GeoCommunicator.  This government site not only displays information on topographic maps but also on satellite images and is useful in locating appropriate access points to federal land. 

1919 topographic map showing Mouser Place name.

Current topographic map with no place name.


  1. Howdy from Silver City! I love the Bootheel country and may have to wander over your way for a visit.

  2. Rodeo and the San Simon Valley is the undiscovered country of New Mexico's boot heel. Separated from the rest of New Mexico by the Peloncillo mountains and the rest of Arizona by the Chiricahua mountains the valley exists unto itself, a bubble where time slows and landscape views are large.