Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

New Mexico Outdoor Travel Outfitter – Charlie’s Sporting Goods

February 1st, 2010
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If you like traveling around New Mexico’s great outdoors – hiking and camping, fishing and hunting – put Charlie’s Sporting Goods at the top of your list and visit before you go.

Charlie and his team of experts are here to fit you with the right equipment for your New Mexico outdoor travel adventure, no matter what your skill level, to ensure the best possible experience on land or water.

They have everything from fishing equipment & lures to handguns and shotguns archery equipment, tents and rafts, footwear, apparel and much more!

If you haven’t been to Charlie’s, you haven’t been to New Mexico!  Charlie’s Sporting Goods 8908 Menaul in Albuquerque.  See them today!

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 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.

Carlsbad Caverns

December 26th, 2009
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Take a turn in the comfortable 56°F climate and behold Carlsbad Caverns’ stunning formations borne out of the earth’s own vibrant imagination. The creation of the caves began some 250 million years ago, when the region was part of a vast inland sea. The caves weren’t occupied until 1,000 years ago, when paleo-Indians first sought refuge there.

Visitors to Carlsbad Caverns today can enjoy self-guided or guided tours, back country explorations, camping and more.

The park contains more than 100 known caves, including Lechuguilla Cave-the nation’s deepest (1,567 feet) and third longest limestone cave. Don’t miss The Big Room; it’s the size of eight football fields combined. There are self-guided and ranger-guided tours. Reservations are recommended for Kings Palace, Left Hand Tunnel, Slaughter Canyon Cave, Lower Cave, Spider Cave, and Hall of the White Giant tours.

Expect ladder climbs, pool crossings, tight crawls and climbing. Oh, and bats – at dusk between May and October, you can witness 400,000 Mexican freetaile bats take to the night!

Read more about Carlsbad Caverns.

The Guadalupe Backcountry Byway

December 26th, 2009
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For 30 miles, the Guadalupe Backcountry Byway travels the transition from cholla cactus in the Chihuahuan Desert west of Carlsbad up into the pines of the dramatic Guadalupe Escarpment. Travelers can see mule deer, pronghorn antelope, gray fox, scaled quail, mourning dove, a variety of songbirds, and small mammals. The Byway is located along the Capitan Reef of the Permian Basin and passes through an area of producing oil and gas wells. The plains give way to steep limestone outcrops cut by dry arroyos. Beneath the surface are numerous caves, including Carlsbad Caverns and Lechugilla Cave within nearby Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

The Byway has interpretation stops along the way explaining different aspects of multiple-use public land management. The interpretive stops include explanations of activities taking place on this “working landscape,”
which include oil and gas development, livestock grazing, recreation uses, as well as other land use opportunities and natural resource protection measures.

The Guadalupe Backcountry Byway also provides a gateway for rural tourism and access to many little-known attractions. Numerous intersecting improved roads and unimproved OHV-two track trails provide access to public lands with excellent opportunities for hiking/backpacking, primitive camping, caving, horseback riding, nature study, mountain biking, hunting, and other outdoor experiences.

Read more about the Guadalupe Backcountry Byway.

Angel Peak in Bloomfield, New Mexico

December 19th, 2009
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Angel Peak Scenic Area offers more than 10,000 acres of rugged terrain recognized for its scenic and scientific wonders. The nearly 7,000-foot Angel Peak, a landmark composed of river deposited sandstone from the San Jose Formation, is visible for miles in any direction. However, the banded colors of the badlands and the deep sculpted fingers of the canyon at the base of Angel Peak are only fully revealed to those who make the short journey along the rim.

The panoramic view of the canyon offers the visitor a spectacular glimpse into the earths past. This landscape etched by time, has been more than 60 million years in the making, and the geology of the area is as important to understanding the evolution of mammals, as it is spectacular to view.

City of Rocks State Park

November 4th, 2009
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Formed of volcanic ash 30 million years ago and sculpted by wind and water into rows of monolithic blocks, City of Rocks State Park in Faywood (near Deming) takes its name from these incredible rock formations. Cactus gardens and hiking trails add to this unique destination. The rock formations at the park are so unique that they are only known to exist in six other places in the world. Imaginative visitors may see the rock formations as a small city, complete with houses, chimneys, courtyards, and streets.

Until 1200 A.D., Mimbres Indians roamed this area and left arrowheads and pottery shards as evidence of their culture. Spanish conquistadors also spent time in the area, carving crosses into the rocks.

City of Rocks was the first New Mexico state park to receive an observatory. The observatory consists of a 12 x 16 building with a roll-off roof and is permanently equipped with a 14″ Meade LX-200. The entire facility is solar-powered and includes a 20-inch monitor, which allows several visitors to simultaneously view the jewels in the night sky, as images are transmitted through the telescope.

Visitors can see a sampling of southwestern plants and animals. The park’s desert botanical garden is home to cow’s tongue and bunny ear cacti, yucca, and towering century plants. Deer, antelope, javelinas and jackrabbits are frequently seen in the area, along with over 35 species of birds, ranging from golden eagles to finches.

Hidden Treasure: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

November 4th, 2009
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The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a remarkable outdoor laboratory, offering an opportunity to observe, study, and experience the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes. The national monument, on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, includes a national recreation trail and ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level.

The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a pyroclastic flow. In close inspections of the arroyos, visitors will discover small, rounded, translucent obsidian (volcanic glass) fragments created by rapid cooling. Please leave these fragments for others to enjoy.

Precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below. Some tents have lost their hard, resistant caprocks and are disintegrating. While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet.

As the result of uniform layering of volcanic material, bands of gray are interspersed with beige and pink-colored rock along the cliff face. Over time, wind and water cut into these deposits, creating canyons and arroyos, scooping holes in the rock, and contouring the ends of small, inward ravines into smooth semi-circles.

Jemez Mountain Trail

November 4th, 2009
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The Jemez Mountain Trail twists through time and terrain, contrasting vermilion desert cliffs and snowy alpine peaks, 13 th century stone dwellings and the birth of the Atomic Age in nearly the same breath. Travelers may fish canyon waters at dawn, don snowshoes for a woodland trek, explore ancient Pueblo ruins and view elk crossing an immense volcanic caldera all in the same day.

The trail begins at the junction of U.S. 550 and N.M. 4 in the pastoral village of San Ysidro, named for the patron saint of farmers. Passing a restored church of the same name, N.M. 4 slowly winds past Jemez Pueblo, home to more than 3,000 tribal members who call the village Walatowa in their native language, Towa. Jemez Pueblo sits at the gateway to the spectacular Canon de San Diego, where the road bisects reddish-orange cliffs as it enters the Red Rocks of the Jemez. The Walatowa Visitor Center (877-733-5687) is wedged in these rocks, along with roadside stands selling crafts, fry bread and red and green chile stew. Jointly operated by Jemez Pueblo and the Santa Fe National Forest, the visitor center houses a museum and gift shop and provides information about the area.

Roswell: More than UFOs!

October 14th, 2009
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Looking for more than just aliens and UFO’s? You’re in the right place because thats not all Roswell has to offer!

In this video, Richard and Travel Guide NEW MEXICO visit Roswell, New Mexico. Interested in adventurous outdoor fun? Visit Roswell’s Bottomless Lakes, hiking trails, scenic bike trails, or wildlife refuge. Take a step out of the sun and cool off in one of Roswell’s seven museums where you can experience the art, history, and fun of Roswell!

Looking for UFOs or information about the Roswell UFO Incident? You’ll never know what you may find. Don’t forget the Amazing Roswell UFO Festival, held annually July 4th Weekend at venues throughout the city.

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