Rio Grande Gorge, NM

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Trip Report
New Mexico, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Nov 30, 1999
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Rio Grande Gorge, NM
Created On: Nov 14, 2006
Last Edited On: Nov 14, 2006

Wild Rivers BLM Recreation Area; Taos County, NM

This was just a wonderful albeit hazy dayhike into the Rio Grande Gorge at Wild Rivers BLM Recreation Area near Questa, New Mexico. Although the hike is actually West and sligthly South of Questa to access the trailheads you need to drive in from the North, from the Tiny Hamlet of Cerro, NM on NM Highway 378 off of New Mexico Highway 522. The closest Bridges across the Rio Grande from the West are far to the North in Colorado and 45 minutes or an hour to the South on the John Dunn Bridge West of Arroyo Hondo, NM. Both of these bridges are on relatively primitive roads, so access is most commonly through Costilla and Questa, New Mexico.

My photos begin at dawn on October 28, 2006 and end later that morning. Just click on the sunrise and several will follow. Just a note for my technomoronmen friends like myself. If you blow up the final photo you will indeed see the snow covered Blanca Massif far to the north in Colorado over the Gorge.

I awoke in my pickup at my Rimside site at Big Arsenic Campground ($7.00)with enough chill in the air for the elk to bugle heartfully in the meadows around Big Arsenic Campground in the Gorge far below me. Delightfull to say the least as the squeals reasonated up the Rhyolite Cliffs. These sites all have 3 sided shelters with picnic tables and concrete floors. There are some serious drops right from these sites, so camping there is not for everyone. I find it simply spectacular in the Pinyon Juniper Woodland.

I was treated to a wonderful sunrise over the mostly timbered section of Sangre de Christo Range. The hike is not reccomended in Winter.

A couple of miles plus south down the bicycle trail on the Gorge's Eastern Rim to La Junta Point. A long mile down to the confluence of the Rio Roja (Red River) and Rio Grande at La Junta. The Shelters in the Groge Bottom have "dirt" floors. A mile and a half or so to Little Arsenic Camp. Couple more or so to Big Arsenic Camp, then less than a mile back up to Big Arsenic Campground and the completion of a great loop.

There is a sort of reverse life zone theme here, pinyons and cedars on the canyon rim and cottonwoods and ponderosas much farther down. There is currently renovation/construction going on on the rim, at Little Arsenic Camp/Picnic Ground and a few of the other overlooks. I imagine this trail would be heavily used in the summer season by Taos area visitors. Great Kayaking March to whenever it drops too much. I remember flirting with 80 degree temps in March '89 in the Taos Box just down river.

I had the Gorge entirely to myself and a few critters along the way on what ended up being a 65 degree Saturday. I only saw people on the River after the Hike at the Dunn Bridge when I soaked at Blackrock Hot Springs.


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Rio Grande Gorge, NM

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