Part 33: Alamosa, CO to Show Low, AZ


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The Trip

We stayed in the KOA in Alamosa and it was adequate.  For whatever reason, the water there smelled like sulfur.  I can only assume that there was hot springs activity some place near the municipal water source.  From Alamosa, we headed south toward Antonito, NM and then back into another segment of the Sangre de Christo mountains.

The photos below are what we saw.

Our earlier attempts to cross the Sangre de Christo range involved some narrow trails with plenty of overhanging tree limbs.  The photo above shows that the limbs did not go lightly.  There was no damage to the camper or the solar panels because we were very careful, but each branch still left its mark.

As we headed through Antonito, NM, we spotted the tourist train that takes folks over to Chama.  Or USED to take folks to Chama.  We heard from the locals that there was a suspicious fire at one of the train trestles that has taken a section of the track out of commission. The SLRG runs both diesel and steam trains and we would see one of the steam engines in action at the crest of the pass.

We plotted a back-road route to the train station at Osier, NM.  Our route took us over many miles of dirt roads and we seveal several wrong turns until we were on the correct route.  Above, you can see the route of the Toltec and Cumbres Railroad and the Osier station.

Osier station is a pretty substantial building.  They feed hundreds of tourists at a time in this building.  We took this tour several years ago from Chama and had a great time (except for the heavy rain).

We headed south from Osier and the trail got gnarly quickly.  Along the way, we could see the tracks above us built into the side of the cliff.

Soon out of Osier, we had to do a water crossing on the trail.  The mog had no issues, but since we were by ourselves, I always think about what the recovery method would be if we got stuck.

From the far ridge, we could see the Osier station complex.

We traveled many miles of not-so-good dirt roads and finally hit the route that took us back to the blacktop.  We crossed Cumbres pass on our way to Taos and we encountered the steam engine from Chama.

On our way to Taos, NM we had to cross yet another 10,000 foot pass. From a pull-out on the top, we had awesome views of the terrain below us.  Above, you can see magnificent meadows that must support a substantial population of both cattle and elk.

Near Taos, we encountered a brief thunderstorm that left a nice rainbow in its wake.

Closer to Taos, we encountered these "artist dwellings".  Some of these were pretty odd.

This one looks like it is out of Star Wars.  I think that Jabba the Hutt lives here.

The route into Taos crossed the Rio Grande gorge.  The bridge provided a great view of the gorge.  The Rio Grande is quite wide, so the river is a long, long way below the lip of the canyon.

The rain started and stopped again producing a double rainbow.

We spent the night in Taos at Casa Benevides, our favorite bed and breakfast in the area.  Next morning, we headed toward Questa and Red River.  We crossed the Sangre de Christo range again, this time west-to-east.  Then we headed south and stayed at Coyote Creek State Park on the east side of the range.  From there, we continued south,  and we passed this alpaca sitting next to a huge field of wild flowers.

Our path took us past Mora, NM and we could see the spine of the Sangre de Christo range with flower-covered fields at its base.

We crossed the Sangre again from Mora, this time from east-to-west.  From there, we headed south toward Chimayo.  Along the way, we passed a controlled burn in the hills above the highway.

From Chimayo, we could see the badlands to the north of the highway.  Note the "dirt" cliffs in the distance.

From Chimayo, we headed to Los Alamos to see our mogger friends Patrick and Jaime.  On the way, we got great views of the sandstone cliffs on the approach to Los Alamos mesa.

The cliffs on the edge of Los Alamos mesa are daunting.

After a very pleasant evening in Los Alamos, we departed to the west over the Jemez range.  As we descended through Jemez Canyon, we passed Soda Falls.  The river passes an odd rock formation creating an interesting waterfall.

I was photographing the rock formation and unintentionally caught this couple smooching near the falls.  Note the odd patterns in the rock which are indicative of cooling lava.

We left the Jemez range and headed south toward the Sandia mountain range and a meeting with the Albuquerque moggers.  As we passed the crest of the Sandia range, we got this great view of the mountains to the east.

The road over the Sandia range was easy dirt, but it was still somewhat rutted and rough.

We met the local moggers at a BBQ restaurant for chow.  Above is Brad and Laura's 416 DOKA with modified radio box.

Our 1300L with Alaskan camper next to KC's ex-military 1300L.

After dinner we headed to a fire station that was close by where we saw a 1550 DOKA that was in the process of being fully restored.

From Albuquerque, we headed west on I-40, then south into the open desert.  We passed an overlook that provided a great view of the distant terrain.  From the top of the sandstone escarpment we could see the broad lava flows on the plain below.  This area is called the Mal Pais which translated literally means "bad lands".  There were a chain of volcanic craters that coated this area with several layers of lava.  The lava can be seen in the far left of the photo above.  Some of the flows are as recent as 3,000 years ago.

The Mal Pais area had a BLM campground down the road a few miles, so we went to check it out.  We found it acceptable and camped near a cliff is the sandstone.

It was a pleasant, if unremarkable, night and next morning, we headed south toward central New Mexico.  Along the way we passed La Ventana natural arch.  The arch was formed from the sandstone that was common in the area.

The lighting for the shot above was not optimum, but the arch was quite big and is visible in the center of the photo.

The ground near the arch was covered in bright wild flowers, indicative of the recent rains in the area.

We spotted odd-colored cholla in the area that seemed like it was attempting to bloom.  But, the blooms come from pods, not yellow-colored stalks so I don't know exactly what was going on.

On our path south, we passed a turnout for Lava Falls, so we went to check it out.  At that side we saw what was called "ropey pahoehoe" lava formations.  The shape of the surface lava is due to continued movement of the lava mass as the surface was solidifying. Interesting to look at, but tough, if not impossible, to walk on thus the name Mal Pais.

Across west-central New Mexico we saw huge swaths of land covered with wild flowers.

We saw some interesting sights in this segment of our trip.  The west and northern New Mexico in particular, is tough to beat for awesome landscapes.  At the end of the day, we had traveled into eastern Arizona on our way back home.  Tomorrow, we would continue west toward the Prescott area, then south to Phoenix.

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