Archive for the ‘Outdoor Adventures’ category

Sierra del Rio

May 13th, 2010

Snuggled just six miles from the base of Turtleback Mountain and sprawling throughout the wide open landscapes of the high desert, Sierra Del Rio honors the majestic spirit of the wild southwest. Located in Elephant Butte, NM within the 1,000 plus acres of Turtleback Mountain Resort, Sierra Del Rio Golf Course, is an 18-hole championship daily fee facility with full amenity clubhouse.

In New Mexico we appreciate our natural resources—both for their beauty and for the life they give. For this reason, we have designed a course that is unique not only in its play design but also in it limited impact on our environment. At Sierra Del Rio, we use environmentally safe organic products throughout the property to protect our water shed and abundant wildlife.

Our beautiful southern New Mexico climate combined with our draught tolerant grasses allows the course to maintain its green coloring throughout the year. The organically grown greens are covered with bent grass that offers some of the smoothest putting surfaces found in this part of the country.

At Sierra Del Rio, we believe that playing golf should be a beautiful experience—one that allows you to immerse yourself in a game among a unique design of greens, fairways, and teeing grounds but also one where you will bask in the natural and abundant landscapes that quietly and majestically surround your play. Our design team has created a premier course with 18 memorable holes while preserving the natural environment that has existed here for ages.

Gone Fishing in Elephant Butte

March 1st, 2010

I have to admit … I’ve lived here permanently eight years and had never gone to Elephant Butte.  Fishing has never been at the top of my priority list but that all changed with the introduction to Frank Vilorio, ace fishing guide and someone you would want to share a brew with after a great day on the water.

Frank has been a guide on Elephant Butte Lake for years and he knows every nook and cranny of the lake.  I found this out right away when he put down the anchor in a little cove and said it was time to catch the bait we would use that day.  Catch bait?  Now there’s something I hadn’t heard of before … I thought you bought the bait in a store!  Nope, Frank says you have to use live fish to catch fish.  He was right!

Off we went and before long we were hauling in White Bass and looking for the elusive big Striper Bass.  Jordan and Heather from Wyoming were along with us and Jordan showed us the “biggest” fish in the lake … about three inches long.  But the second bite was one much bigger and the kind that would fit nicely into a campfire cook stove.  We, of course, caught and released.

We were all enjoying the pristine New Mexico day – lots of sunshine and beautiful surroundings – when Heather snagged a Striper!  This one was at least 15 pounds and gave Heather a nice fight before landing this “baby” in the boat.  After everyone got to take a look this great fish was also returned to its native habitat.

Frank had us on the lake for about six hours and we could have stayed longer had we not had more filming to do for Travel Guide New Mexico.  But he was quick to invite us back and we’ll take him up on that offer.

If you want to see some of the trophy fish that Frank has engineered for his charter participants check out his website and  Now these are some fish!

Thanks, Frank, for a great day at Elephant Butte.  To see more click on our Elephant Butte video.  And remember … Elephant Butte is New Mexico’s largest lake.  In addition to fishing the boating and camping are terrific!  Enjoy …

Pick your adventure in Taos

February 27th, 2010
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Pick your adventure in and around Taos, a small town that offers a respected artistic community, many treasures of history and access to worlds of sporting thrills. Get a real taste of frontier history at the Kit Carson Home and Museum, the notorious Governor Bent Home, or the Blumenschein Home & Museum. Take in the artistic side of the area at the Fechin Institute or the Harwood Museum of Art. Taos also puts you within reach of spectacular skiing at Taos Ski Valley or Wheeler Peak, or whitewater rafting at Taos Box on the Rio Grande. Visit Rancho de Taos for historic churches, or Taos Pueblo to see an ancient American Indian community.

Taylor Streit Fly Fishing

February 27th, 2010
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Taylor Streit has been guiding fly fishers in Northern New Mexico for 30 years and is a “Legendary Guide” in the Freshwater Fishing Hall Fame. He has written three acclaimed fly fishing books. His son Nick runs Taos Fly Shop and was on the U.S. Junior Fly fishing team that placed second in the world competition of 1998.

The Taos, New Mexico area has many fine streams, including the famous Rio Grande, Red River, and Conejos. For the non-fisher, Taos, Chama, Santa Fe and Angel Fire offer galleries, shops, skiing, and rafting.

Northern New Mexico at its Best – Taos!

February 27th, 2010

What can you say about Taos, New Mexico? It’s one of those magical places you’ll want to return to time and time again. I’ve been there many times and can’t get enough of the place.  The year round weather is just wonderful.  Not too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter.  The history is rich … the galleries phenomenal … and I don’t think I’ve been to many places as small as Taos that have such an exceptional number of great restaurants.  I’m a lover of Graham’s Grille just off the plaza and the Texas BBQ  and Trading Post just south of town.  There are far too many to mention here so you’ll want to stay awhile and try them all.

On our latest trip we had a ball.   Stayed at the Hampton Inn and Dana and Raymond made us feel right at home.  They have a great breakfast buffet that is included with your room and it’s not unusual to see noted local artist, Richard Alan Nichols,  painting in the lobby or to hear the incredible flute music of Frederick Aragon (appearing live) helping you dream a little over morning coffee.

el-monte-sagradoWe packed a great deal into this adventure taking in a variety of art galleries downtown, visiting the Kit Carson museum to learn a little of Taos history and spent an incredible day at the El Monte Sagrado hotel and spa.  Now this is one place that you need to spend some time.  The spa is like none I’ve ever seen and on my next trip I’ve been invited to stay at the hotel and after seeing the rooms and suites I may just be enticed to move in permanently!    The El Monte is one of those “comfort food” type places where you could easily spend a few days and never leave the grounds.  Pampering here is second nature to the entire staff and you’ll want for nothing!   This is a world class destination in a world class town.  And … while doing some filming on the restaurant patio I ran into Dennis Hopper of “Crash” TV fame (Okay … let’s not forget “Easy Rider!”) taking a break from filming and  having a casual meal by himself.  He is quite an accomplished artist himself and told me that Taos is rapidly becoming “home” for him.  He just loves New Mexico and is quite the good will ambassador for our state and Taos.

But Taos is more than just downtown.  We headed up toward Taos Mountain and on the way took a balloon ride with Ed Smith of the Pueblo Balloon Company.  Now this wasn’t just a hot air balloon ride … this was a ride DOWN through the Rio Grande Gorge. Ed is a great guy and has lots of stories to share about the early days of Taos that he shares on the ride to his launch site.  After the ride we took a walk across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge … one of the tallest in the country.  Spectacular!  And…it’s a long way down!

taos-ski-valley-winterThe Village of Taos Ski Valley and the Ski Valley itself are filled with fun places to visit and things to do.  I think most people are of the opinion that Taos is a place to go in the winter to ski.  I’d spend a week or so there in the summer.   The Taos Music Festival had its inaugural run this year and was a huge success.  Outdoors with the mountains and valley in the background.  Blankets and picnic baskets spread on the ground. Blue skies and great music.  What else is there to say?  While you’re waiting for the music to start … try some Frisbee Golf!  Now that is a lot of fun and you get a good share of exercise, too, when you consider that part of Taos Mountain ski area is used for the course!

taos-bavarian-innWe had a great lunch at the Bavarian Inn just up the mountain from Taos Ski Valley.  Thomas and Jamie Schulze are the owners who believe that “good” just isn’t good enough.  Their patio is open in summer and winter and is right at the bottom of one of the mountains chair lifts.  If we ever meet remind me to tell you the story of the stein of beer that Thomas shared with me!  It’s one of those that you have to hear in person.

Chuck, our native New Mexican, had never had true German food.  Thomas is from Munich (I believe) and he knows good Bavarian food!  Chuck has made me promise that the next time we’re up there we’ll pay the Bavarian a return visit for the combination sausage platter.  That’s what I had and it was so good I selfishly refused to share more than one bite with the crew … Chuck included!  The Bavarian has four ski chalets for rent year-round and Janine and I will definitely be booking our room there for the upcoming ski season!

taos-ski-valley-summerWe spent time rock climbing with Jay and Donna Foley.  Something I hadn’t done before and neither had producer/director, Chuck, who wedged himself in a large crevice to get some great shots of Jay climbing.  Something I definitely want to do again.  Jay has actually done some climbs that required overnight stays sleeping in a hammock attached to a rock on a sheer face canyon wall!  Don’t think I want to try that … but …

Big Al Johnson is a cowboy everyone should meet.  A tall, gentle man who wakes up every morning thankful that he gets to do what he does … take folks like us on high mountain horseback rides at over 10-thousand feet elevation.  His stories are fabulous and the care he takes to make sure everyone enjoys the ride is second to none.  Just a wonderful guy with a couple equally as wonderful people working for him.  He does overnight camp stays, too, and I’ve promised him that I’ll be back for that experience, too!  He explained what the stars and night sky look like from up there but I think this is something you have to see to believe. What a great day rock climbing and horseback riding!

The great thing about Taos Ski Valley and the Village is that if you like to fish you can fly fish right out of your “home” … or very close by.  Just another great example of places to go that offer something for everyone!   Taos does that and a whole lot more!  Spend a week there and enjoy Northern New Mexico to the fullest.

Spaceport America

February 1st, 2010
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The next chapter in space transportation is being written right now in the State of New Mexico. Forward-thinking pioneers are developing both vertical and horizontal launch vehicles using the power of free-market enterprise. As the worlds first purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America is designed with the needs of the commercial space business in mind. Unique geographic benefits, striking iconic design, and the tradition of New Mexico space leadership are coming together to create a new way to travel into space.

When it comes to outer space, New Mexico is bringing it down to earth!

Puye Cliffs

January 16th, 2010
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In this video, Richard and Travel Guide NEW MEXICO visit the Puye Cliffs. For more than three centuries  from the late 1100s to 1580,  Puye Cliffs was home to 1500 Pueblo Indians who lived, farmed and hunted game there. In the late 1500s, Puye Cliffs inhabitants moved into the Rio Grande River valley, likely due to drought that caused springs to dry up and crops to fail. Puye Cliffs inhabitants are ancestors of the present-day Santa Clara people, who now live at Santa Clara Pueblo, ten miles east of Puye.

Puye Cliffs consists of two levels of cliff dwellings cut into the cliff face, as well as dwellings on the mesa top. The first level is over one mile long and runs the entire length of the base of the mesa. The second level is about 2,100 feet long. Stairways and paths were cut in the face of the rock to connect the two levels and to allow people to climb to the top of the mesa. Dwellings on the mesa top are examples of Pueblo architecture and were part of a single, multi-storied complex built around a large, central plaza.

The complex is known as the Community House or Great House. While the actual number of rooms is unknown, the south part of the complex had 173 rooms on the ground floor, with multiple stories in various places, similar to modern-day Taos Pueblo.

The largest of all settlements in the Pajarito Plateau, Puye Cliffs was excavated in the summer of 1907 by Adolf Bandelier, in cooperation with the Southwest Society of the Archeological Institute of America. It was the first of the ancient Pueblos of the Rio Grande Valley to be systematically excavated, and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1966.

Read more about Puye Cliffs here.

Behind the Scenes with Richard: Trail of the Ancients

January 16th, 2010

Long before I moved to New Mexico I had been told stories by my grandfather and grandmother of the great cliff dwellings and Native American ruins that they found during their travels here in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.  I just couldn’t imagine what these “houses” must have been like.  I found pictures in National Geographic and read books in the library and eventually, as technology advanced, sought information on the internet.

Bandelier, Chaco Canyon, Aztec, Salmon Ruins and Gila are all part of our early Native American Culture along the Trail of the Ancients.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when we sat down in a Travel Guide New Mexico television production meeting and the topic of the “Trail of the Ancients” came up.  It was interesting to learn that, perhaps, many of the cliff dwellers came from the same Native American tribes and how they split and moved in different directions.

I knew this was a trip of a lifetime and I wasn’t disappointed.

I have visited Bandelier near Los Alamos many times when relatives and friends visit and I always look forward to going back.  To me it is a very magical place in a magical location.  Often times we spot deer drinking and relaxing along the stream where early inhabitants drew their daily water supply and irrigated their fields.  If you’re up for a hike you can climb out of the canyon and peer down on the ruins or head south to take in the two waterfalls that feed into the Rio Grande.

However, I had no idea that Puye Cliffs on the Santa Clara reservation was just a few miles from Bandelier near Espanola.  And I had paid only a brief visit to Aztec and Chaco Canyon and couldn’t wait to get to the Gila Cliff Dwellings near Silver City.

At Puye Cliffs, Lucretia Williams met us in her Santa Clara native garb and gave us a first hand tour of this wonderful place.  In many cliff dwelling communities we see a main “village” under the cliff dwellings.  At Puye Cliffs the “village” is on a mesa above the cliff dwellings … something I was unaware of until Lucretia drove us (you can climb but dusk was approaching) to the top of the mesa for a spectacular view of the surrounding area.  Now this is a place where I could have lived!  You have to take a guided tour here and don’t be hesitant to do so.  Your family will learn a great deal about the early inhabitants and the Santa Clara people today.

Chaco Canyon is one of those places that you scratch your head and ask why people came here in the first place?  Many theories abound with trade from Mexico and California not to mention trade routes from the north and east as well.  From the air we were told you can still see the outline of these routes.  What we don’t understand is why Chaco was chosen.  Wood beams were cut and hauled many miles to make the ceilings of the dwellings secure and the rocks used to build the structures were carried from about five miles away.  Imagine doing all of that hundreds of years ago before horses and wagons entered the scene.  It is just mystical.  Be sure and ask the guides about the theories of Mayan and Aztec influence in the region and at Chaco in particular.  Especially as 2012 looms before us …

North of Chaco is the Aztec ruins located right in downtown Aztec.  The most notable part of Aztec is the reconstruction of the Great Kiva, which gives you a real look at the kiva as a meeting place and this is one HUGE kiva!  I was blown away by its size and can only imagine what actually took place here.  One incredible place for a family reunion!

Right next door to Aztec is the Salmon Ruins named after the family that homesteaded the area surrounding the ruins and kept them in pristine shape.  Interestingly enough these ruins were not pillaged by those searching for pottery and other ancient artifacts.

It was well into the 1970’s before the ruins (just outside of Bloomfield) were excavated and research is still ongoing there today.  The Salmon brother’s home is still intact and if you peer into the windows you can see dishes still in the kitchen.  Other buildings of the Salmon family are right next to the ruins.

Take time to talk with the volunteers and staff members inside the visitor’s center.  They’ll be happy to show you around and explain what they have found there.   Larry Baker, the superintendent, has been there since the first excavations and has many great stories to tell about the ruins and the people believed to live there.  He’ll talk your ear off with wonderful information and will make you yearn for more!  Larry is an all around great guy with a true passion for what he does. Someone who has undertaken his job as a true labor of love.

The Gila Cliff Dwellings require about a 90 minute to two hour drive through the Gila National Forest from Silver City and it is well worth every mile you drive.  The views of the forest are nothing short of eye popping.  The hike to the cliff dwellings is about a half mile along a narrow and unpaved trail.  I wondered about this before we started and then quickly began to understand that this walk is one the Ancients made daily and hiking without the benefit of concrete or asphalt gave me a real feeling of peace and serenity along the small stream lined on both sides by massive rock formations.

When you first see the dwellings you might feel a little disappointed.  Why? Well, you can see the face of the dwellings but the magic here is the 100 plus foot climb up to the dwellings and then your first look of what lies behind the stone face.  There is a whole city built back into these giant caves with hundreds of rooms with a view!  I was taken back by what we experienced.  And the great part is that you can climb into the cave to experience much of what life might have been like hundreds of years ago.  I’m adding this to my list of places to take family and friends when they come to visit.

Gila is a full day trip.  Two hours in … two hours out … and a few hours of just looking around.  You can camp there and might want to consider doing so. We talked with a few campers who said they had never seen stars at night like they saw at Gila.  I can only imagine.  Oh … there are other isolated cliff dwellings you can see and enter along the hiking routes outside of the main cliff dwelling area and near the camp grounds.  Great places for the little ones … and old ones … in your family to explore!

Staying in Silver City as part of your visit is well worth the time.  Billy the Kid … museums and a growing art community make this a great place to “camp” while exploring.  Fort Bayard is an 1850’s army post which was home to the famed African American Buffalo Soldiers and a national cemetery with graves dating back into the 1800’s.  This national treasure is still today a place where our soldiers are laid to rest.  I must ad that several of our Buffalo Soldiers who were stationed here were honored with the nation’s highest award for valor …  the Medal of Honor.

There is much more to see in Silver City … Pinas Altos and early gold mining town and home, for a short time, to the famed Judge Roy Bean.  Stop in at the “PAPO” … that would be the Pinas Altos Post Office and Ice Cream parlor as the locals call it,  for one of the biggest and most delicious banana splits that I have ever consumed!  Tell them that Richard sent you.

And remember … the Trail of the Ancients is your trail to another great family adventure in the Land of Enchantment!

Gila Rangers and the Billy the Kid Shootout Reenactment

January 2nd, 2010
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The controversy over Billy the Kid’s life and death started when he was shot and killed by Pat Garrett in July 1888. But did Billy die, did Garrett really kill him or was somebody else the victim of Garretts bullets? The legend holds that Billy, also known as William Bonney Henry McCarty and Henry Antrim, was born in New York, or was it Texas? His mother was Catherine Antrim, or was he born to her sister and raised by Antrim?

The controversy of his life stems far beyond what documented history can tell us. However, a few things about Billy’s life are not controversial. He was raised in Silver City, New Mexico, by Antrim and known then as Henry McCarty. After her death, he had no role models, got involved with shady characters and began his brief life of crime. Also not disputed is that Billy the Kid attended Sixth Street Elementary School in Silver City. A cabin from the movie set of The Missing was donated by the movie’s director Ron Howard and sits at the Murray Ryan Visitor Center near the site where Billy (a.k.a. Henry) and his mother lived. So, while the stories of Billy change as quickly as time passes, one fact that will always remain is the Kid will always be known as one of the Wests most rumored and remembered outlaws.

Read more about Billy the Kid in Silver City here.

Gila Cliff Dwellings in Silver City

January 2nd, 2010
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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument offers a glimpse of the homes and lives of the people of the Mogollon culture who lived in the Gila Wilderness from the 1280s through the early 1300s. The surroundings probably look today very much like they did when the cliff dwellings were inhabited. The monument is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and lies at the edge of the Gila Wilderness, the nation’s first designated wilderness area.

This designation means that the wilderness character of the area will not be altered by roads or other evidence of human presence. Hiking in the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness areas is a popular activity in the area. There are also several popular hot springs nearby. The closest, Lightfeather, is a twenty-minute walk from the Visitor Center. The most popular is Jordan, a 6- or 8-mile hike from the Visitor Center, depending upon the trailhead used.

Read more about the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

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