Catron County is named after a famous attorney and Santa Fe political leader, Thomas B. Catron. Catron County became a county on February 25, 1921.
Catron County is the largest county in land size in the State of New Mexico, but has the third smallest population of any New Mexico County. The county covers almost 7,000 square miles and is comprised of mostly rugged mountainous terrain. Less than 20% of the land in Catron County is privately owned with the balance of the land being public. Approximately 3,500 people make up the population of the county. Reserve is the county seat and largest town in the county, which boasts a population of about 400.
The Apache and Gila National Forests border one another in this area; the two forests combined cover much of Catron County. The Continental Divide zig-zags through this mountain complex which is characterized by rugged slopes, narrow canyons, rocky formations, clear mountain streams and evergreen forests. There is good trout fishing, big game hunting, and an abundance of elk, deer, bear, big horn sheep, mountain lion, and wild turkey. Most sportsmen use four-wheel drive vehicles, but horse and mule are also popular forms of transportation. There are many dirt roads throughout the National Forest in the county, but the Forest Service warns that they should be considered “dry weather” roads and should not be attempted during wet weather without first checking with the local Forest Service ranger station. A good rule to remember is that any unpaved road in Catron County is a “dry weather” road.
Catron County has many campgrounds on National Forest land with facilities or find a quiet place under the pines to set up camp. All Forest Service ranger stations have maps of their forest districts, listing the camping areas and their facilities.