On my way from Hermit Peak to the Rio Grande Gorge, I got crunched between the Land Rover and the Teardrop. Ouch. After a few days taking it easy on the long, flat roads that crisscross the east rim of the Gorge, I was ready to plunge headlong into that deep, dark river canyon.
The Rio Grande River runs at the bottom of a 800 foot deep geologic rift that cuts down through the layers of black basalt that underlie north-central New Mexico. On the surface, the high desert is a sagebrush sea, cross hatched by dusty roads and antelope paths. But switchback down one of the steep footpaths that drop into the gorge and you’ll find a surprising green riverine paradise.
The Rio Grande Gorge runs for 50 miles, from the Colorado/ New Mexico border to just south of Taos. My favorite access point is the Wild Rivers Area of the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument near Questa. This little-visited gem was just made a national monument last year but the crowds have yet to descend. I camped here on Memorial Day weekend and once I dropped below the rim, I had the place all to myself.
Love river confluences? Check out my post on hiking to the meeting place of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River. Up next: a journey back in time in the Valle Vidal!