Santa Fe Baldy

Santa Fe Baldy is a prominent summit in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, United States, located 15 mi (24 km) northeast of Santa Fe. There are no higher mountains in New Mexico south of Santa Fe Baldy. It is prominent as seen from Los Alamos and communities along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico, but is relatively inconspicuous from Santa Fe, as its north-south trending main ridge line is seen nearly end-on, disguising the size of the mountain. Tree line in the Sangre de Cristos is unusually high (exceeding 12,000 feet (3,700 m) in places) and only the top 600 to 800 feet (180 to 240 m) of the mountain is perpetually free of trees, but several severe forest fires have created bare spots extending to lower elevations. An extensive region of aspen trees on its flanks produces spectacular orange-yellow coloration during the fall that is the subject of many photographic studies.]

Santa Fe Baldy rises in the Pecos Wilderness within the Santa Fe National Forest, on the water divide between the Rio Grande and the Pecos River. The western slopes are drained by the Rio Capulin and the Rio Nambe, both flowing to the Rio Grande. The eastern side of the mountain consists of two small cirques, one containing Lake Katherine, one of the highest lakes in New Mexico at elevation 11,745 feet (3,580 m). Contrary to popular belief, Lake Katherine was not given its name by theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, in reference to his wife Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer. This naming convention predates their meeting by at least a decade, and the lake is instead named after Katherine Chaves Page Kavanaugh, owner of the Los Pinos Guest Ranch on the Pecos River. The attribution of the name to J. Robert Oppenheimer may be influenced by his known connection to Katherine Chaves Page Kavanaugh, as he was a frequent guest at the Ranch.

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