Mount Taylor is a stratovolcano in northwest New Mexico, northeast of the town of Grants. It is the high point of the San Mateo Mountains and the highest point in the Cibola National Forest. It was named in 1849 for then president Zachary Taylor. Prior to that, it was called Cebolleta (tender onion) by the Spanish; the name persists as one name for the northern portion of the San Mateo Mountains, a large mesa. Mount Taylor is largely forested, rising like a blue cone above the desert below. Its slopes were an important source of lumber for neighboring pueblos.
Mount Taylor is the cone in a larger volcanic field, including Mesa Chivato. The Mount Taylor volcanic field is composed primarily of basalt (with 80% by volume) and straddles the extensional transition zone between the Colorado Plateau and the Rio Grande rift. The largest volcanic plug in the volcanic field is Cabezon Peak, which rises nearly 2,000 feet above the surrounding plain. According to Robert Julyan’s The Place Names of New Mexico, the Navajos identify Cabezon Peak “as the head of a giant killed by the Twin War Gods” with the lava flow to the south of Grants believed to be the congealed blood of the giant.
Mount Taylor is the site of the Mount Taylor Quadrathlon, an endurance event which has been held at this location for almost thirty years. The event includes running, skiing, bicycling and snowshoeing for 43 miles. In addition to this special event, Mount Taylor and the surrounding area provide exceptional hiking, backpacking, hunting, and stargazing opportunities.