Into the Rio Grande Gorge

The week of  April 17th saw me down in Dallas working as an IT monkey for my company at a trade show. The days were long, hard and busy. It also blurred the line a bit too much for my tastes between my private life and work life. When you are on the site of where you work (essentially) you are ON.

The best part of this show? It allowed a three-day weekend!


someone’s new job offers every other Friday off. So we took advantage of this window of free time for the both of us and drove to northern New Mexico.  Specifically, we went to the Wild Rivers Recreation Area of the Rio Grande Gorge.

The weekend featured some nice hiking, some relaxed camping and a bit of history, too.  All in all, a chance to re-center ourselves and again prove what is important to me: Spending time outdoors with a person I hope to have in my life for many years to come.

We left Colorado Friday and made out way down to New Mexico taking the back roads when we could.

There is something about this area of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico that always fascinated me. There is a blend of Spanish and Native cultures, the strong cultural roots and the deep and long history  that is not common to most of the American west. These factors make for an area where I always want to return.

Then there is the natural beauty. The Sangre De Cristo and the San Juans mountain are easily the most striking ranges in Colorado (and extends into New Mexico) and the southwest landscape of this area (red rocks, arroyos, gorges and volcanic rock) was one of the highlights for me during my Continental Divide Trail thru-hike.

We arrived at our destination over traversing over the volcanic plain. We briefly walked to an overlook before the entrance station and stood amazed the site of the Rio Grande below. A site unexpected in this wide, open area.

We made camp and decided to take a quick hike to La Junta Point to see the confluence of the Red River and the Rio Grande.

As we worked our way down into the gorge, the views continued to impress.

We made it to confluence and noticed the darker color of the Red mingling into the lighter color of the Grande. The Red also felt noticeably warmer.


We worked our way back. someone then noticed we had 800′ vertical to climb to get back to the rim! 🙂

But the views in the soft light of the evening made the climb worth while….

On the way up, we also had a friend soaring over the gorge.

We made our way back to camp and settled in for the night. A beer or two was drank and we enjoyed the clear and vibrant night sky.

The following morning, we noticed the overcast skies and wind moving in. No matter. The canyon would prove to be sheltered from the wind and the rain would hold off.

We again made out way down into the gorge and to the Rio Grande.


One item that caught my eye was a feather in a tree:

someone and I made it to Big Arsenic Springs where a local guide was leading a day hike (complete with llamas and lunch!). He was very friendly and helpfully pointed out the way to the petroglyphs.

A short walk later, and we came upon these post-1500 petroglyphs:

This area was more than likely a camp used by the Utes or Comanche many, many years ago.  Fresh water at the spring, secluded bend in the river and grazing for horses.  The Utes and Comanche raided the (relatively) nearby Taos Pueblo and this area proved to be a good hideout.

We made our way along the Rio Grande  and enjoyed some last views.

As the day before, a friend soared near us and we were able to capture the bird in flight.

We made it back to camp just in time. The rain was starting up and the wind increased. The sound of the rain put us to sleep quite soundly.

The following day, we played tourist in Taos for a little bit and soaked up the history. With the church bells ringing in town, it occurred to me it was Easter Sunday and this heavily Catholic area was quiet.

We made our way slowly back north taking in the sights of the back roads and even stopping in the Fort Garland museum not too far from the New Mexico and Colorado border.  The quick stop in the museum was interesting and further shows that sometimes state boundaries mean less than cultural, geographical and physical boundaries.

Later at night, we arrived back in Boulder.

Refreshed from a hectic week..but wanting to back for more time in this great area. We’ll return.

All the photos

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