Looking for Treasure in New Mexico

15 Places to Find Lost Treasure in New Mexico (Maps and More)

More than a decade ago, Forrest Fenn hid a treasure chest that contained a million dollars’ worth of gold and valuables. Years later, Fenn revealed that a man named Jack Stuef found the treasure somewhere in Wyoming.

Other treasures are hidden around New Mexico, and you can all find them yourself. If you are in for the challenge, below are 15 places where you can treasure hunt.

Among the list are:

  • Cerrillos Hills State Park
  • Bluewater Lake State Park
  • City Of Rocks State Park
  • Oasis State Park
  • Rockhound State Park
  • Cimarron River
  • Rio Hondo River
  • Rio Pueblo De Taos River
  • Jemez River
  • Rio Ojo Caliente River
  • Blossburg
  • Cuervo
  • Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway
  • Elizabethtown
  • San Ygnacio De La Alamosa
Places to Metal Detect in New York
Places to Metal Detect in New Mexico

The 15 Best Places to Find Lost Treasure In New Mexico

1.   Cerrillos Hills State Park – Santa Fe County

Located 16 miles south of Santa Fe, Cerrillos Hills State Park only became a part of New Mexico in 2009. This transfer of ownership made the state park the newest of all state parks in New Mexico. The hills within the state park measure as high as 6,000 to 6,900 feet above sea level.

Back then, the Spaniards call the Cerrillos Hills the Sierra de San Mateo. By 2003, Santa Fe County turned the hills into a state park with the help of the Cerrillos Hills Park Coalition. Until 2009, Cerrillos Hills State Park carried the name Santa Fe County Cerrillos Hills, Historic Park.

Cerrillos Hills State Park google map link.

2.   Bluewater Lake State Park – Cibola County

This park measures about 3,000 acres, while the lake has 1,200-acre surface areas. Bluewater Lake State Park is famous for people who like bird watching and fishing. There are 68 species of birds. Some birds live in the state park yearly, while others only pass by during annual migration.

Moreover, Bluewater Lake State Park has an altitude of 7,400 feet, causing the lake to freeze when winter comes. During such a time, the state park is a popular place to visit for ice fishers.

Bluewater Lake State Park google map link.

Metal Detecting Tip: While putting this article together I made a little discovery. Back in the 1970’s Western magazine published an article about a treasure no one has found. Get the PDF Download 👉 The Caballo Mountain Treasure

3.   City Of Rocks State Park – Grant County

As the name suggests, City of Rocks State Park consists of large rock formations that rise as high as 40 feet. These rocks formed about 34.9 million years ago when a volcano erupted nearby. As the years passed, erosion shaped the stones into the boulders and pinnacles in the park today.

This state park offers various challenging activities, including hiking, walking, rock climbing, and camping. But if you like light activities, you can enjoy picnicking, trail walking, and wildlife viewing.

City Of Rocks State Park google maps link.

4.   Oasis State Park – Roosevelt County

One of the most common destinations for people who are in New Mexico is Oasis State Park. This park has several dunes and a small fishing lake. However, the water quality in the lake surrounded by the park is poor. Still, the dunes and beautiful scenery around the park make up for the poor water quality in the state park.

Recreational hunters can look for treasures around the state park. However, they must ensure they have permission beforehand and will not disturb other park activities.

Oasis State Park google map link.

5.   Rockhound State Park – Luna County

Rockhound State Park got its name from the many minerals found in the area. This park is a paradise for treasure hunters as they can freely look for geodes, perlite, quartz, jasper, and crystals in the area.

This state park opened in 1966, making it the very first park in the US that permits visitors to collect minerals and rocks. There are two units in the park. The main area has camping areas and is in the Little Florida Mountains. On the other hand, the second unit is only accessible during the day. It lies in the Spring Canyon Recreation Area north of the Florida Mountains.

Rockhound State Park google maps link.


If you’d like more articles about metal detecting check out the links below.


6.   Cimarron River – Colfax County

This river flows entirely within New Mexico. It has its headwaters in the creeks of Moreno, Sixmile, and Cieneguilla, all located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The water coming from the river also fills the Eagle Nest Dam.

Cimarron River, known as La Fiecha or Semarone by the people in the area, flows within a part of Cimmaron Canyon State Park. People can go fishing on the river as it is home to rainbow and brown trout. There are approximately 3,000 fish for every mile of the river.

Moreover, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish maintains the Cimarron River.

Cimarron River google map link.

7.   Rio Hondo River – Taos County

This 79-mile-long river flows to the east through the Hondo Valley, at the foothills of the Sierra Blanca and Capitan Mountains. It begins at the confluence of the Rio Bonito and Rio Ruidoso Rivers and ends at the Pecos River.

The river is also parallel to the US Route 70’s route, through the two towns – Picacho and Tinnie.

In addition, the river passes through a deep canyon near an unincorporated community called Riverside. Recreational hunters can look for treasures in this community if they ask for permission before digging.

Rio Hondo River google map link.

Metal Detecting in Rivers
Metal Detecting in Rivers

8.   Rio Pueblo De Taos River – Taos County

The Rio Pueblo de Taos River has its source in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It measures 33 miles and flows south and west towards the Rio Grande watercourse. Additionally, the Blue Lake supplies water to the Rio Pueblo de Taos.

One of the things you can do on the river is water rafting. You can also treasure hunt and metal detection if you ask permission from the authorities.

Rio Pueblo De Taos River google map link.

9.   Jemez River – Sandoval County

The Jemez River measures approximately 50 miles long on its own. However, it extends to about 80 miles if you add the San Antonio Creek, the river’s longest headwater tributary. This river is Rio Grande’s tributary. The East Fork Jemez River and San Antonio Creek’s confluence form this river. In addition, it drains several tributaries within the Santa Fe National Forest and Jemez Mountains.

There are various activities you can do at the Jemez River. However, the most popular activity is fishing for trout.

Jemez River google map link.

10.                Rio Ojo Caliente River – Rio Arriba County

The Rio Ojo Caliente River is in Rio Chama’s tributary and is the confluence of the Rio Vallecitos and Rio Tusas.

It flows through a small canyon and turns southwest to enter the Ojo Caliente Valley. Black Mesa separates the Rio Ojo Caliente River from Rio Grande’s basin.

There is a hiking trail along the river, which you can explore if the weather in the area is excellent. There are also trails for mountain biking and horseback riding near the area. In addition, the area surrounding the river turns into a path for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.

Rio Ojo Caliente River google map link.

11.                Blossburg – Colfax County

This ghost town is the first mining community built in Dillon Canyon, New Mexico. The coal mining activity in the area started in 1880. That said, Blossburg is among the oldest coal mining communities in New Mexico. By 1885, approximately 500 men were working in the mining community, and its population reached 1,171 by 1890.

However, Blossburg faced some disasters, including a massive fire in the early 1890s and a mine explosion in 1894. Since then, the town’s population slowly decreased, and it never regained its prosperity.

Blossburg google map link.

12.                Cuervo – Guadalupe County

Cuervo became a town somewhere between 1901 and 1903. The town’s name is a Spanish term for “crow,” which highly populated the area. The land surrounding the town became a cattle ranch in 1910, making it popular and promoting its growth. The creation of the Route 66 highway made Cuervo even more popular as it created a trade of hotels and gas stations.

This town had two churches, two schools, two doctors, two hotels, and many businesses. It had approximately 300 people during the 1930s, but the population dropped to less than 150 by the 1940s.

Today, Cuervo only has 50 people, old establishments, and the remains of Route 66.

Cuervo – Guadalupe County google maps link.

13.                Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway – Santa Fe County

The Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway is a town with scenic drives filled with ghost towns and the history of the people who once lived there. It got its name from the rich turquoise deposits that you can find in the area. Not long after discovering the turquoise deposit, Spanish explorers began flooding the place to look for minerals.

Moreover, the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway connects Santa Fe and Albuquerque, making it popular as the “road between the two cities.”

Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway google map link.

14.                Elizabethtown – Colfax County

This ghost town was a mining camp and the first incorporated town in New Mexico. Elizabethtown once had more than 7,000 residents since it was established in 1866, only a year after the end of the Civil War. The town got its name after Elizabeth Catherine Moore, the daughter of Captain William Moore, who once had an expedition on the town. Elizabeth Moore also became the town’s first school teacher.

Today, Elizabethtown is very far from what it used to be. The town’s once-popular Old Mutz Hotel now has its walls remaining, with stones scattered around it.

Elizabethtown – Colfax County google maps link.

15.                San Ygnacio De La Alamosa – Sierra County

This ghost town was established in 1859 as a colonizing settlement for New Mexicans. It lies along Rio Grande’s west bank and Alamosa Creek’s south bank. By 1860, the town had a population of 321 people.

Not long after, people established farms and irrigations on the west bank of the Rio Grande. However, a great flood in 1862 washed most of the farms, leaving only those built in Cañada Alamosa. Some farmers rebuilt their farms near the river, while others moved to Cañada and made their livelihood there.

Moreover, this town became a ghost town in 1876.

San Ygnacio De La Alamosa google map link.

Treasure In New Mexico

The biggest treasure story in the US is the Victorio Peak Treasure. According to the report, an American businessman and gold prospector named Doc Noss found a cache of gold inside Victorio Peak. But while multiple expeditions tried to find the gold cache, no treasure has been discovered from the site until today. (source)                      

Is It Legal to Metal Detect in New Mexico?

New Mexico is among the popular spots for treasure hunters. It is because you can find a small amount of gold in this state. But while New Mexico is a good spot for recreational hunters, there are rules you need to follow to keep your activity legal.

Read exactly what the state of New Mexico says about metal detecting in this article -> New Mexico State Parks

Using a metal detector in any New Mexico state park is legal. However, you need to ask permission from the park management before hunting. You can also treasure hunt in river beds, old mining camps, and ghost towns.

Metal detecting in national parks is forbidden, so ensure you will not do any detection activities in such areas. (source)

Can I Keep Treasure Found In New Mexico?

The Archeological Resources Protection Act or ARPA covers the law regarding metal detecting in New Mexico. This law prohibits the extraction of items believed to be more than 100 years old from public lands. With this law, the US Government can protect objects with historical significance from damage and loss. (source)

New Mexico Treasure In the News

  • Over 40 years ago, a construction worker excavated a giant gold bar in New Mexico. Archeologists confirmed that the Spaniards stole this gold bar from the Aztecs in the 16th century. (source)
  • A New Mexico antiquities dealer’s hidden treasure chest filled with gold and valuables has been found. (source)
  • Doc Noss’s family had one year to look for the missing Victorio Peak treasure. (source)

Stories of Treasure In New Mexico

●     The Lost Cancino Arroyo Treasure

According to the legends, a drainage channel called Cancino Arroyo has gold ingots worth more than $1 million in today’s value buried at its bottom. The legend started when two outlaws tried looking for a fortune on August 9, 1880 but were unsuccessful. Then, a rancher named Dolores Cancino and Steve Upholt also tried searching for the gold but were unsuccessful. (source)

●     The Golden Bell of Corrales

This legend started when a dying man from Corrales attended a Sunday mass and pronounced himself cured. This miracle prompted the church and the people to make a new golden bell for the church. After the creation of the golden bell, a disaster struck, washing it away. They found the bell after a century, but the finders lost it again. (source)

●     Buried Gold in San Juan County

In the summer of 1874, two outlaws named Tom Horton and Sam Wharton came to Santa Fe County, New Mexico, with a strongbox filled with $50,000 worth of gold coins. The two divided the treasure and hid them in their horses’ saddlebags. However, their horses tired of traveling for long, so the two decided to bury their treasures under an arch-shaped rock. The army arrested the outlaws not long after, so they could not get their gold back. (source)

Metal Detecting Tip: Back in 2012, El Defensor Chieftain Newspaper publish an article about treasure tails in New Mexico. Read the PDF HERE

Books About Treasure In New Mexico

The Victorio Peak Mystery: A Search for the Greatest Lost Treasure Cache in America – W.C. Jameson

This book discusses the famous story about the lost treasure in the Victorio Peak. According to the legend, gold and silver ingots and artifacts worth billions of dollars are in the said mountain. If you want to hunt the treasure yourself, this book will help you find everything you need to know. (source)

Lost Treasures & Old Mines, A New Mexico Federal Writers’ Project Book – Ann Lacy

This book lists the lost treasures and old mines that treasure hunters can find in New Mexico. It is an excellent book for treasure hunters looking to go on an adventure in the said state and try to look for fortunes there. (source)

10 Treasure Legends! New Mexico: Lost Gold, Hidden Hoards and Fantastic Fortunes – Commander Pulitzer

If you are into treasure legends, this book by Commander Pulitzer will provide you with 10 of the best treasure stories in New Mexico. Half of the book is a journal where you can write down your adventures and the treasures you found. (source)


Wondering What Metal Detecting Equipment I Use? Check Out My Favorites Below

Nokta Makro Simplex+ an awesome machine
Nokta Makro Simplex+ an awesome machine

I’m frequently asked what machines I use and recommend. No doubt about it, for the beginner get the Nokta Makro Simplex + Kit it’s the best. 100% waterproof, wireless headphones and pinpointer. Check prices and reviews with quick links below.


Lesche T Handle Shovel
Lesche T Handle Shovel

The next thing you need is a great shovel, believe me when I say you’ll dig more knowing you can dig FASTER. Links below to the nearly bullet proof Lesche T- Handle Shovel


CKG Metal Detecting Beach Sand Scoop
CKG Metal Detecting Beach Sand Scoop

Metal Detecting and Beaches are a perfect match. Easy digging and lots of people dropping coins and jewelry. To search a beach you’ve GOT TO HAVE A SAND SCOOP. CKG Sand Scoops are heavy duty and able to be used as a shovel.


Minelab Equinox 800 amazing Metal Detector
Minelab Equinox 800 amazing metal detector

If it’s time up UP YOUR GAME and get the industry standard metal detector. The Minelab Equinox 800 IS THE BEST. Okay it’s not cheap, but your finds are going to increase with this machine. Shortcut links for reviews and current prices.



David-Humphries-Metal-Detecting

David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

Read about David -> HERE

Want to send me a question – contact

Sources

  1. Hidden Treasures. Mysterious Lost Mine and Government Cover-Up? Youtube Video. 0:24. Posted by Hidden Treasures. June 6, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-z9jXGA_QM.
  2. State Park Links and State Park Metal Detecting Laws & Regulations. MDHTALK Metal Detecting State Law. http://www.mdhtalk.org/cf/city-regulation.cfm?st=NM.
  3. Yasemin Saplakoglu. Massive Gold Bar Unearthed in Mexico Was Looted Aztec Treasure. Live Science. January 14, 2020. https://www.livescience.com/gold-bar-looted-aztec-treasure.html.
  4. Treasure Hidden By New Mexico Antiquities Dealer Has Been Found. WTHR. June 7, 2020. https://www.wthr.com/article/features/trending-today/treasure-hidden-new-mexico-antiquities-dealer-has-been-found/531-91edd38e-efd3-4de2-a824-11f32bcc1d87.
  5. Dirk Johnson. Following the 1937 Story of Buried Gold, Family Searches New Mexico’s Sands. New York Times. July 29, 1992. https://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/29/us/following-1937-story-of-buried-gold-family-searches-new-mexico-s-sands.html.
  6. W.C. Jameson. New Mexico Treasure Tales. USA: Caxton Press, 2003. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=zsF9DUcAsSEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=treasure+stories+in+new+mexico&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi07OiWhMP4AhWRhlYBHVeiCwwQ6AF6BAgJEAI#v=onepage&q=treasure%20stories%20in%20new%20mexico&f=false.
  7. The Victorio Peak Mystery: A Search for the Greatest Lost Treasure Cache in America. Amazon. Accessed June 23, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Victorio-Peak-Mystery-Greatest-Treasure-ebook/dp/B07VBWSY7L/ref=sr_1_4?crid=EICP9C78O3DF&keywords=treasure+hunting+in+new+mexico&qid=1655969660&sprefix=treasure+hunting+in+new+mexico%2Caps%2C274&sr=8-4.
  8. Lost Treasures & Old Mines, ANew Mexico Federal Writers’ Project Book. Amazon. Accessed June 23, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Treasures-Mexico-Federal-Writers-Project/dp/0865348200/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3WJL1HDVLUYL&keywords=new+mexico+treasure+books&qid=1655969926&sprefix=new+mexico+treasure+book%2Caps%2C302&sr=8-2.
  9. 10 Treasure Legends! New Mexico: Lost Gold, Hidden Hoards and Fantastic Fortunes. Amazon. Accessed June 23, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Legends-New-Mexico-Fantastic/dp/1495444384/ref=sr_1_4?crid=3WJL1HDVLUYL&keywords=new+mexico+treasure+books&qid=1655970275&sprefix=new+mexico+treasure+book%2Caps%2C302&sr=8-4.
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