By John Bailey, Manager of Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
Use your public lands. The BLM Taos Field Office offers free, expert-guided hikes, bike tours and lectures in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
Sunday, July 2 – 9 am / 2 hours
HIKE: Picuris/Slide Trail Loop, Orilla Verde – Led by park ranger Randy Roch, part of this hike follows an early route used by the Spanish explorers coming into the area, and was a part of the trail system used by Puebloans before the arrival of the Spanish. Meet at the Picuris trailhead close to Taos Junction Bridge near the intersection of NM 570 and 567 for this moderate two-mile hike.
Saturday, July 8 – 9 am / 2 hours
HIKE: Petaca Point Trail, Orilla Verde ‒ Meet park ranger Kim Henkel at the trailhead on NM 567 (about 1. miles west of Taos Junction Bridge, on the rim) for this easy 2.5-mile round trip hike along the west rim. You will visit one of the more spectacular petroglyph sites in the Monument.
Saturday, July 8 – 9 am / 3 – 4 hours
HIKE: La Junta Trail, Wild Rivers‒ Meet park ranger Tim Long at the La Junta Point parking area for a hike down to the confluence of the Rio Grande and Red River. This is a steep, 1.5-mile trail down, in the deepest part of the Gorge. Tim will talk about inverted ecosystems and the rivers’ history.
Saturday, July 15 – 9 am / 2 hours
HIKE: La Senda del Medio Trail, Orilla Verde ‒ Meet at the trailhead at the north end of Pilar Campground along NM 570, at the southern entrance to the Monument. Led by local naturalist Suzie Benton, this ’middle way’ is an easy 2.5-mile round trip walk on some basalt escarpments that are a couple hundred fee above the Rio Grande. One of the best trails to experience being in the Gorge.
Saturday, July 15 – 9 am / 2 hours
HIKE: Pescado Trail, Wild Rivers – Led by park ranger Teddy Lucero, this trail will take you from the Wild Rivers Visitor Center where the hike will start, going through pinon-juniper woodlands to the rim of the Red River Gorge, then goes down through a Ponderosa forest before you get to the riparian area of the Red River, near the Fish Hatchery. The hike is 1.75 miles each way, and will take about two hours.
Sunday, July 16 – 8 am / 2 hours
BIKE: Family-Friendly Mountain Biking, Taos Valley Overlook Trails ‒ Meet Shari Heier at the Cascabel trailhead at the end of C-110 at 8 am for a family friendly bike ride on some of the Overlook trails. The ride will start at 8:30. Bring your bike, a helmet and water. Shari has years of mountain biking experience and can offer useful tips on riding techniques and the principles of ‘treading lightly’ on the land.
Sunday, July 23 – 9 am / 2 hours
HIKE: La Vista Verde Trail, Orilla Verde ‒ The Monument’s most popular trail, this easy 3-mile round trip hike takes you along a shelf, which is about midway between the river and the rim. This hike offers beautiful views of the gorge, some of the more studied petroglyphs in the Monument, and often, sightings of bighorn. Led by park ranger Kim Henkel.
Saturday, July 29 – 9 am / 2 hours
HIKE: The Slide Trail, Taos Valley Overlook/Orilla Verde ‒ Meet at the Cascabel Trailhead located at the end of C-110, past the UNM Klauer Campus. The trail is the now-closed-to-traffic portion of SR 570 which was blocked by a major rockslide in the mid-1990s. Thanks to work completed by the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, an easy to walk route over the slide makes this an interesting way to descend into the Gorge, which in this area was created by the Rio Pueblo and the Rio Grande. Led by park ranger Barry Weinstock.
Saturday, July 29 – 7 pm /1 hour
LEARN: A Brief Cultural History of the Monument, Wild Rivers Amphitheater ‒ Merrill Dicks, archaeologist with the Taos Field Office, will give a lecture on the past 12,000 years of human use in the Monument. Hunting and gathering, spiritual practice, trading, warfare and battle sites have left their mark on the cultural landscape of the Monument.
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.
May we recommend these BeyondTaos