El Malpais National Monument is located approximately 80 miles west of Albuquerque off of Interstate 40. There are two exits off of I-40 that will take you to different sights and things to do along those roads. For the El Malpais Overlook and La Ventana Arch, take exit 89 South onto Hwy 117 for approximately 15 miles. The overlook point stretches for miles and miles across a landscape that is covered in old lava flows and sandstone bluffs. The view is amazing, showcasing a valley of lava fields with colorful Mesa’s surrounding the area. We hiked from the top down to the area below for a little over 2 miles. It was a beautiful walk that we enjoyed immensely. A few miles further south on Hwy 117 is the La Ventana Arch. La Ventana is one of the largest arches in New Mexico and is very easy to get to with a short half mile hike. It’s a stunning sight from afar but as you get closer you will be in awe of the enormous beauty of this arch. Across El Malpais on the west side you can take exit 81 off of I- 40 and travel south along Hwy 53 from Grants, NM where you can hike trails through lava tubes and old lava flows. There is a “Big Tubes” area in which you will need to stop by the El Malpais Visitor Center to obtain a wild cave permit in order to explore the caves. Currently all the caves are closed due to covid until further notice with the exception of the privately owned the Bandera Ice Cave and Crater. There is a small Trading Post on site where you can get tickets. A couple of years ago we took Cameron (our youngest son) to see the Ice Caves and Bandera Crater which is located along the continental divide. It’s known as the land of “fire and ice” with the Bandera Crater and Ice Cave where the cave temperature never rises above 31 degrees. It seems the more we explore New Mexico the more there is to discover.
The Bisti Badlands are located in the four corners area of New Mexico south of Farmington off of Hwy 371. The Bisti’s have been #1 on my bucket list for many years, but for different reasons we haven’t been able to go until now. You can look at photos and watch YouTube videos but there is nothing like seeing this landscape in person that makes you feel transported into another place and time. Much of the landscape appears black and white or sepia tone. It’s dry and desolate and the heat becomes a factor much of the afternoon so hiking in this area is best in the mornings. We carried several bottles of water with us knowing that there were no water stations to refill our bottles. The area is 45,000 acres and 60 square miles so unless you have an idea where to go, you could wander for hours. We did our research and decided we needed a GPS to coordinate areas and also keep track of our path because there are no trails and many of the footprints are blown away with the wind. We parked at the south parking lot and entered our coordinates into our GPS with 3 areas that we wanted to see; the Wings, Cracked Eggs and the Petrified Logs. We made it to those areas but we were also lured into other areas that we wanted to explore. There’s just so much to see, much more than we could even imagine in the few hours we were there. I hope you can imagine being transported to this enchanted land that was shaped by time and mother nature!
Diablo Canyon is located in a remote area North and West of Santa Fe. It’s about a 1 1/2 hour drive from our home in Northwest Albuquerque. Joe and I drove up to the canyon on Easter Sunday and had the most amazing day! We saw many folks hiking, some biking, rock climbers and many trailers filled with ATV’s to enjoy the rough terrain. We even saw a hang glider floating in the wind. There were two trails that we hiked, this one through the Diablo Canyon and one along the Rio Grande River about 3 miles further West called Buckman. To get here we traveled a very rough dirt road called Old Buckman Road which is pure washboard for a little over 10 miles. It was like getting a vibrating massage as you travel down this dusty dirt road. We read in our guidebook that parts of the movie 3:10 to Yuma were filmed in this canyon. We got there early and enjoyed several hours before the sky started to get dark with a few clouds blowing in. When we left there wasn’t a parking place to be found. Many families had the same idea as us and wanted to enjoy the holiday outdoors where it really does feel spiritual at times with such beauty all around us.
At the north and west edge of the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge sits the San Lorenzo Canyon. Located 1 1/2 hours south of Albuquerque just west of Interstate 25, this remote canyon is a hidden gem to be explored. It’s a primitive area that is lined on both sides of a dirt road with tall sandstone formations, the narrow slots and a cave. It is a wonderous sight to see and hard not to be lured into the slot canyons along the way. We had an amazing day enjoying the warm sun and cool tunnels. We arrived around 10 am with only one other car in sight. We wandered around for 2 – 3 hours exploring the canyon and finding a trail that would end at a dry spring Hopefully they will see some rainfall soon allowing the spring to fill, however a long hot Summer is predicted with drought throughout the season. We took a picnic lunch and enjoyed the view while munching on sliced ham and cheese with crackers and fresh fruit. We are looking forward to the next hike to check off our list in our “60 Hikes within 60 miles” guidebook which can’t come soon enough! Continue reading →
Spring fever is starting to creep into my senses. Spring is my favorite season especially when the colors start to paint the landscape with green leaves and the blooming of wild flowers. It’s pure serenity when you feel the warm air and sunshine upon your face as well as the accomplishment you feel after a long hike. We are lucky to have such a vast enchanted landscape with remote places to get away and explore. Josh gave us a book entitled “60 Hikes within 60 Miles” Albuquerque edition. We have enjoyed it so much and it includes many unknown places that we had no idea existed. Recently we made a beautiful trip to the Ojito Wilderness on the Hoodoo trail. It’s roughly 35 miles north and west of Albuquerque with the last 15 miles being a washboard dirt road. Once you get there you will find an easy 4 mile trail with a beautiful landscape and a few areas dotted with hoodoos varying in size and shape. These hoodoos are mostly sandstone with swirls of layers and color. While not as large or perfectly cone shaped like “Tent Rocks” they are each unique in their formations. There was wind along the trail with trees that look as if they had twisted over the years leaving behind some artistic bark and limbs. I’ve always been fascinated by these twisted art sculptures formed by nature. Here’s a few of our favorite views from the Hoodoo Trail in the Ojito Wilderness! Continue reading →
Posted at 9:42 am by NativeNM, on October 30, 2020
Week No. 3 . . . The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is an 83-mile loop through the mountains, valleys, mesa’s and national forestland of Northern New Mexico. The loop goes from Taos to Questa to Red River to Eagle Nest to Angel Fire and back around to Taos. This picture was taken along the Rio Grande River between Espanola and Taos. Taos had by far the best fall colors with the Cottonwood trees ablaze with golden leaves. Most of these pictures were taken as we were driving but we did stop occasionally to capture some panoramic photos. Along the way the scenery changes from the Taos colors to the valleys of Angel Fire. The lake at Eagle Nest is so picturesque with the sparkling blue water with the hilltop landscape in the background. Red River is a tourist haven nestled in the mountains with pine trees, rivers and ponds. It’s always cooler up in the northern part of the state and a great getaway to cool off in the summer month’s or enjoy skiing in the winter. Taos is one of my favorite places on earth. It’s the most charming little town with unique local artists displaying their works in and around town. Whenever you visit New Mexico this might be the perfect place to start. Continue reading →
Posted at 10:24 am by NativeNM, on October 28, 2020
We first visited the 4th of July trailhead in August. We were looking for a place to hike where it was cooler because at that time the temperature was quite warm in Albuquerque and was too hot for outdoor activities. 4th of July trailhead is located on the south and west side of the Manzano Mountains. It’s about 1 1/2 hours to get to the trailhead with the last 6 miles being a dusty dirt road dotted with big rocks and potholes to navigate through. It’s slow going that last bit but well worth the trip. When the colors began to change we knew that 4th of July trail would be packed with people on the weekend with very little parking so we went during the week. We arrived around 3:30 in the afternoon. As it turned out our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun was lower and coming through the trees lighting them up in their most vibrant colors. From the August greenery to the October colors, the trail was indescribable. I wouldn’t have recognized it had we not just been there a couple month’s earlier. The colors were even more vibrant that I could imagine. And as we walked I tried to get every color of leaf which ranged from an off white to a vibrant purple. Almost every color was represented and it reminded me of an enchanted forest from a fairy tale. I can’t imagine another place quite like 4th of July trailhead! Come take a walk with us and enjoy the colors of New Mexico! Continue reading →
Posted at 10:25 am by NativeNM, on October 26, 2020
Since Joe and I returned to New Mexico we’ve enjoyed taking day trips and hiking trails that are new to us. This year we were determined to see some of the fall colors around the state. We spent 3 weekends in October exploring different areas, each one offering a distinctive experience. The first weekend we went north to the ski valley near Santa Fe to hike the Aspen Vista Trail which is about 11 miles round trip. And no we didn’t make it the entire way but we did walk about 7 of the 11 miles. The Aspens are plentiful and they are spectacular! The golden yellow leaves at times look as if they are on fire. The early morning hours are the quiet times when the trails are less traveled and we can take our time to enjoy the view. With Covid 19 spiking again and nothing to do it seemed like everyone had the same idea to get away and enjoy the beautiful leaf tour. By driving to the trails early, we could easily get a parking spot and enjoy the trails with a handful of early birds. By lunchtime it’s a different story, many more folks just getting started as we wind our way back. We always pack a picnic lunch and find a spot to enjoy the view. It’s a serene time to get away in this year 2020. We are fortunate to be able to travel an hour or two to a beautiful haven in which to get away and forget the worries of the world if only for one day! Continue reading →
Who could have predicted that our world would change as we know it in only a matter of weeks. Do you ever wonder if the world will ever be the same again? Over the past few weeks I take little for granted and am grateful for the little things that keep me grounded and help me forget all the madness. While Joe and I are doing well, we recognize that so many families are sacrificing in ways I can’t even imagine. When our governor announced a “stay at home” order, everything got real for me. I have to admit I was nervous for days worrying about things I couldn’t control. Once the shock wore off I picked myself up and decided to find something productive to do. I got back to blogging but also started taking a diary of photos each day of our favorite meals and some views we spotted from our own backyard. With Spring’s arrival not only have the birds arrived but also other dessert wildlife making tracks through our yard. From sunrise to sunset I find beauty in things I took for granted only a few weeks ago. Life continues on as things look normal outside even though the world around us is not. May you all find something each day to give you peace and positive thoughts in the days ahead. We are all in this together! March 26, 2020, I woke up early to one of the darkest and richest sunrises I have ever witnessed. The sky was completely covered in clouds of dark blue. It was simply an amazing sight! Continue reading →
Posted at 9:01 am by NativeNM, on October 15, 2019
It’s that time of year again!! Every year on the first weekend of October the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque takes flight with 9 days of colorful balloons. Balloons of every shape and color imaginable fill the skies over our city. We were rookies last year and didn’t know what to expect. This year we planned ahead and everything fell into place for the best experience we’ve ever had! First, we decided to skip the weekend mass ascension and instead went on Wednesday for the Flight of the Nations event. This event recognizes the International balloons that participate in the fiesta as they carry their nations flags while lifting up into the skies. We found lighter crowds than on the weekends and almost as many balloons that took to the skies representing International countries, states, colleges, many shaped balloons plus any and all colors of the rainbow that you can imagine. We got up early and were out the door at 4:30 a.m. to head to the balloon field. We are approximately 6 miles away but you never know how traffic is going to be. We’ve heard horror stories of long lines, taking over an hour to park only to find that parking is already full. Not the case on this day. We were parked and inside the park a little after 5 a.m. Inside the park there are numerous places to get coffee, hot chocolate and breakfast burritos plus several tents filled with arts and crafts to walk through and pass the time. The “Dawn Patrol” begins between 5:45 and 6 a.m.. In the morning before dawn about a dozen balloons will begin to inflate. As they fire their burners, the balloons will appear to glow in the dark. One of the crew members told us that this year they were going to lift off in unison for the first time, normally they would go a few at a time. By accident we just happened to get to the Dawn Patrol balloons as they were laying them out on the ground. We watched them go through the process and had a front row view. I have never been to see the Dawn Patrol or a Balloon Glow evening event before. It’s hard to find the words to describe how beautiful it is as they glow and twinkle. If that were the only thing to see I would have gone away happy. But I hope you will scroll down and enjoy the rest of the morning as dawn breaks and balloons all around us ascend into the beautiful NM skies. Maybe you will be inspired to come to the balloon fiesta next year. Continue reading →