Submitted July 30 by John Bailey, manager of Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
The 300,000-plus acres that now comprise the new National Monument offer hikers, birders, artists, and explorers of all colors many options for exercise and enlightenment. The issue has always been, “how do I get there?” and “what can I — and can’t I do — on these lands now that they are federally-designated as protected?” This summer, hikers have two new sources of information on the Monument. First are these BLM-led hikes, always led by an expert in the field of archeology, geology, or biology, Second is a new printed guide published by MARKETAOS with guidance from the BLM and financial support from many environmental groups. It is “Rio Grande del Norte National Monument: A Guide to Over 300,000 Acres of Natural Wonders in Taos, New Mexico.” The guide was researched and edited by Jim O’Donnell with photography by Jim and BLM-staffer Del DuBois along with ten other talented photographers. Design and project management were handled by Webb Design, Inc. Thanks to all who made this happen.
Janet Webb, BeyondTaos editor
August 2015 guided hike schedule:
Saturday, August 1 – 9 am 2 hours
PETACA POINT TRAIL, West Rim – Meet at the trailhead on NM 567, near the intersection with the West Rim Road. An easy 2. mile round trip hike with ranger Barry Weinstock will provide some panoramic views of the Lower Gorge and insight into the Native American use of this landscape.
Sunday, August 2 – 10 am 1 hour
GEOLOGY OF THE RIO GRANDE RIFT VALLEY, Rio Grande Gorge Bridge Rest Area – Meet at the West Rim trailhead located on the south side of the Rest Area. A short hike along the West Rim Trail for views of the Bridge and some key geological features, led by BLM geologist/ranger Daniel Rael.
Saturday, August 8 – 9 am 3 hours
BIG ARSENIC SPRINGS TRAIL, Wild Rivers –Meet at the trailhead in Big Arsenic Springs campground in Wild Rivers for this moderate 2 mile roundtrip hike to springs near the Rio Grande, and beautiful petroglyphs nearby. Led by park ranger/geologist Daniel Rael.
Sunday, August 9 – 9 am 2 hours
PICURIS TRAIL/SLIDE TRAIL CONNECTOR, Orilla Verde – Meet at the Picuris trailhead just south of the Taos Junction Bridge on NM 570 for this moderate 2 mile roundtrip hike. Led by park ranger Randy Roch, who’ll talk about local history and the geological story behind the impressive scenery of the Rio Grande and Rio Pueblo gorges.
Saturday, August 15 – 10 am 2 hours
EL AGUAJE TRAIL, Wild Rivers ‒ An exploration of an inverted ecosystem, why this is such a good wildlife area, and other interesting information about the Monument’s ecological diversity, led by Erin Freiborth. Meet at the trailhead in El Aguaje Campground for this moderate 1. mile roundtrip hike.
Sunday, August 16 – 9 am 2 hours
LA VISTA VERDE TRAIL, Orilla Verde – Meet at the trailhead on NM 567, about . mile west of Taos Junction Bridge for this easy 2. mile round trip hike with ranger Robert Fernandez. You’ll see impressive views from within the gorge and a compelling series of petroglyphs which have been the focus of some recent research that we will share with you.
Saturday, August 22 – 8 am 4 hours
PLAYA LAKES TOUR, Taos Plateau – Meet at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge rest area. Merrill Dicks and Ryan Besser (BLM archaeologist and fisheries expert, respectively) will explore two playa lakes, including the largest, one of the Monument’s most distinctive features.
Saturday, August 22 – 9 am 2 hours
LA SENDA DEL MEDIO TRAIL, Orilla Verde – Meet at the trailhead in Pilar campground on NM 570 for this easy 2 mile roundtrip hike with park rangers Barry Weinstock and Hannah Miller. The trail wanders along a shelf one or two hundred feet above the river, giving a good appreciation for the geological features of the lower gorge.
Saturday, August 22 – 9 am 3 hours
MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDE, Wild Rivers – Meet at the Wild Rivers Visitor Center parking lot for this ride with Ben Thomas, with the Del Norte MtB Alliance. Bring your bike and a helmet; Ben will lead beginner to intermediate rides, and teach bike safety, treading lightly, and making emergency repairs. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, August 29 – 9 am 2 hours
MANBY SPRINGS TRAIL – Meet at the trailhead located at the end of Tune Drive. This 1 mile moderate roundtrip hike will be led by Monument manager John Bailey, who will talk about geology, history of the hot springs and river crossings, and Native American use of the area.
Sunday, August 30 – 9 am 2hours
SLIDE TRAIL/OLD 570, Taos Valley Overlook – Meet at the trailhead just north and east of Taos Junction Bridge on old 570 for this easy 2 mile round trip hike in the Rio Pueblo de Taos gorge. Led by park ranger Randy Roch with a focus on geology and history.
Please bring water, a snack, hat, sunscreen and sturdy footwear!
www.blm.gov/nm/riograndedelnorte Visitor Centers (Pilar) 575-751-4899 (Wild Rivers) 575-586-1150