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BLM-guided Hikes in May

Free hikes in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument led by Taos experts

Submitted by John Bailey, manager of Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

BLM’s John Bailey, manager of the RGDN National Monument- Lee Trail, 2014

BLM’s John Bailey, manager of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, on Lee Trail, 2014

Saturday, May 6 – 9:00 am 2 hours
The Slide Trail/Old 570, Orilla Verde
Meet at the new Cascabel trailhead at the end of C-110 for this moderate three mile round trip hike. The highlights of this hike are the views into the Rio Pueblo canyon, petroglyphs, wildlife viewing, and wildflowers. The hike will be led by park ranger Barry Weinstock.

Saturday, May 13 – 6:30 am to noon
International Migratory Bird Day –
Join the celebration at the Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center in Pilar, on NM 68 just south of the intersection with NM 570.

6:30 am – early birding walk with Ryan Besser

9:00 am – late morning bird walk, also with Ryan. Both will start at the Visitor Center, last about 2 hours, with a focus on bird identification and bird behavior.

11:00 am—live raptor presentation at the Visitor Center

Free t-shirts and posters; children’s activities with biologist Sage Dunn will be available throughout the morning.

Sunday, May 14 – 9 am 2 hours
Big Arsenic Trail, Wild Rivers
‒ Meet at the trailhead at Big Arsenic campground for this moderate two mile roundtrip hike into the gorge. The geologic history of the gorge, some petro-glyphs that shed light on the cultural history of the area, and the reasons why this is a Monument will be discussed.

Sunday, May 14 – 9 am 1-1/2 hours
La Vista Verde Trail Petroglyphs –
Park Ranger Kim Henkel will be leading this hike on Mothers’ Day. Meet at the trail head located about 1/2 mile west of Taos Junction Bridge, on NM 567. The trail is about 1-1/2 miles long, and a very easy walk. You’ll see striking petroglyphs, some with a connection to the Comanche in Oklahoma. A group of bighorn are often seen on this trail. Free.

Friday, May 19 – 6:30 am up to 4 hours
Orilla Verde Bird Walk –
led by Roberta Salazar (with Rivers and Birds) that will start at the Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center and move north along the Rio Grande. Roberta will be stopping at various sites for up to four hours, but you are welcome to leave whenever you need to. To reduce impacts, there will be a limit on numbers—please reserve your spot by calling 575-776-7159.

Saturday, May 20 – 9 am 2 hours
La Senda del Medio Trail, Orilla Verde
‒ Meet at the Pilar Campground trailhead on NM 570 for this easy 2. mile roundtrip hike inside the lower gorge. This hike offers beautiful views of the gorge, about 300 feet above the river, and will be led by park ranger Kim Henkel.

Sunday, May 21 – 8 am 8 hours
Ute Mountain Hike
‒ Climb the tallest volcano in the Monument (10.093’) with park rangers Teddy Lucero and Tim Long. Meet at the Alta gas station in Costilla on NM 522 at 8 am; for those coming from Taos, you can meet ranger Lucero at the KTAO parking lot at 7 am and carpool. From Costilla, you will need a 4×4 or high-clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead. This is a steep, long hike, gaining 2,500 feet over three miles in a wilderness setting with no trail. Be prepared for changes in weather, bring enough water for a full day, and a lunch to celebrate your arrival to the top of Ute.

Saturday, May 27 – 9 am 3 hours
Kissing Fish Petroglyph Site, Orilla Verde
‒ Meet amateur archaeologist Gary Grief at the Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center in Pilar for this easy 2. mile round trip hike. The drive to the trailhead will take 30 minutes, with a 30 minute trail hike, and about one hour at Kissing Fish, which is one of the more spectacular petroglyphs sites in the Monument.

Sunday, May 28 – 9 am 2 hours
Picuris Trail/Slide Trail Loop, Orilla Verde –
Meet at the Picuris trailhead at Taos Junction Bridge on NM 570 for this moderate two mile round trip hike. The Taos Junction Bridge area has a rich cultural history, and these trails give great views of the Lower Gorge. Led by park ranger Randy Roch.


Please bring a snack, hat, sunscreen, water and sturdy footwear
Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center (Pilar) 575-751-4899 Taos Field Office 575-758-8851

Download a Visitors Guide to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, published in 2015 by MARKETAOS, in collaboration with Taos BLM. It includes a helpful map of the entire monument area, over 300,000 acres.


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