Unfortunately the Los Conchas forest fire on 26 Jun 2011 and subsequent flooding caused the Dixon Apple Farm to be closed. I am leaving the original tip in case new owners re-open the orchard.
Every Fall in the foothills near Cochiti Lake the apples ripen at Dixon's Farm, which is located in the 6200 foot-elevation, lava rich Rancho de Cañada in Peña Blanca, New Mexico. It is a beautiful time of year in this area and people love to go up to buy fresh-picked apples and the cider. They usually sell out in a couple of weekends. Dixon's 50 acre orchard produces four varieties of apples: Red Delicious, Red Rome, Sparkling Burgundy™ and the famous Champagne™. The Champagne™ apple is considered by some to be the best apple in the world, since it is ideal for baking, cooking, making apple sauce, and just eating fresh. Now they have Canada Concessions where you can buy Champagne apple rings and fritters. Here are the directions on how to get there from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
In honor of my dad's birthday, we went on a family road trip to Western New Mexico on July 7, 2013. I had always wanted to visit the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array (Whew! Good thing for abbreviations!) and suggested it to my folks, who were keen on visiting it as well.
Located past the town of Magdalena, N.M., the Very Large Array was dedicated in 1980 and is located on the San Augustin Plains. The flat plains are ideal for the site, which uses railroad tracks to transport 27 dish-shaped antennas around the site. The antennas together form a very powerful telescope that is one of the most powerful in the world! Astronomers from all across the globe use this telescope to study galaxies, planets and all things celestial. Just think, galaxies and planets that are millions of light years away! Jodie Foster even filmed a movie here, "Contact"!
The VLA is open everyday from 8:30 AM to sunset, and all for free! You just gotta worry about gas money and a way to get there if you don't have your own transportation. If you have a pet, they can accompany you on the guided walking tours around the site, but they must be leashed!! Guided tours are held the first Saturday of each month at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM. But you can explore the site on your own, just make sure to keep an eye on the signs that warn you not to go in authorized areas! Just go west on Route 60 from Socorro, N.M. and keep an eye out for the antennas! I hope you enjoy your journey as much as my family and I! This place should definitely be on your list when you come to New Mexico!
Located outside of Los Lunas, easily visible from NM 47, Tome Hill is known today as a sacred pilgrimage site for hundreds of Catholics in the area during Good Friday. A 15 minute hike up non-stop takes you to top of the hill. Upon arrival, you're greeted by three large crucifixes gazing down at you in heavenly joy. Among the remnants left here by pilgrims are candleboxes, rosaries and prayer cards for their loved ones. A day up here makes you feel at peace with the world. You feel cleansed almost, because you just came from a long hike up the ridge, and now you want God to forgive your for your sins, heal your tortured soul, and thank Christ for dying for all of our sins.
Tome Hill is also important to Native American communities, as attributed to some petroglyphs that you might be able to spot around the paths. According to a plaque at the base of the hill, more then 1,800 have been recorded!
Not many tourists will venture out this way, but if you have a good length of time to stay in New Mexico, just following NM 47 past Los Lunas, you can turn on S. El Cerro Loop and then follow it to Sand Hill Rd, or you can catch it from NM 47 to Tome Hill Rd. It's surrounding beautiful New Mexican countryside. It's a good little hike!
On 16 Oct 2012 I made a day trip to find the stone wings in the Bisti (pronounced "Bis-tah" in Navajo) Wilderness. I had first learned of these amazing stone structures when I got a 2012 calendar for Christmas called "Wonders of the World." It had a picture for July of a balanced stone wing and indicated that the location was in New Mexico; however, the location was secret to protect fragile geology. With some research I was able to determine that it was in the Bisti Wilderness where it is very difficult to find things among the badlands geology. It was not even easy to find the north trailhead which is closer to the stone wings than the main (south) trailhead. I did find some stone wings which were pictured online, but not the one on the calendar. However, there are three stone wing sites indicated on the Bisti Maps, GPS Coordinates and Elevations website and none is the stone wing site that I visited. All of the pictures that I took are on my Bisti Wilderness Shutterfly web page. Since not many places in the north Bisti are documented, I have used made-up but descriptive names in my picture titles. On the way to the Bisti Wilderness, I discovered the Northwest New Mexico Visitors' Center in Grants, NM. It is definitely worth a stop with interesting displays, free handouts, a spectacular view from the lobby windows, and spotlessly clean restrooms.
We went here on a beautiful and hot fall day. This place is located to the west of the tiny town of Mountainair, N.M. This particular ruin is named Abo, and is a part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Mounument. There were two other ruins that were part of this area that we didn't get to visit.
There is a visitor center here. Along with a house you encounter before you set foot in the ruins, that house belongs to members of the Sisneros family that have lived there for 13 generations. The ruins of Abo are still in good condition. What remains of what was once a trading post and huge settlement of the Tiwa and Tompiro peoples, also present when the Spanish conquistadores came and traded with the peoples. Soon, the lands became dry following famine and drought, and the native people moved up to the more fertile Rio Grande river valleys. Soon the area fell to ruin and what you see today is what remains.
Follow Hwy 47 south from Los Lunas, cutting through Belen, heading NE along US 60, a few miles before the town of Mountainair. You will see a dilapidated little house at the beginning, crossing over a cattle guard.
Most people do not think of New Mexico when they think fishing, but we are famous for our trout along with salmon and pike if you know where to fish. The most famous trout fishing is down stream from Navajo Dam near Farmington, but there are countless streams and ponds all over the state that are either stocked or support a natural population of trout. Salmon and Pike are limited to a few lakes most popular being Abiquiu and Heron on highway 84 north of Espanola towards Chama. We also have bass, catfish, strippers, walleye, crappie, and other warm water species.
Drive down NM 3. From I-25 mile marker 320 take the frontage road east to NM 3. Follow 3 south thru Ribera to Villanueva (15 mi) and on to I-40 between Clines Corners and Moriarity (20 mi). From I-25 to Villanuava you will be following the Pecos river valley as it winds through the mesa land. The road is curvy but not much up and down to it. The speed limit is 35 most of the way but people drive 45 generally. Watch out for the rare but not unknown farm tractor around the curve. Ribera and Villanueva are small towns but they do have restaurants and stores. From Villanueva to I-40 the speed limit is 65 and the road is straight and mostly flat.
El Morro National Monument is located to the southwest of tiny town of Grants, NM. Along Highway 53, past a small community and followed by a long curvy road full of lowland pine forests. There's a "triangle" of attractions in the area. The tourist trap of the Ice Caves (good for a visit at least) and the awesome Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, all located in and around the area of Ramah.
El Morro was a popular spot for Spaniards traveling in this part of the southwestern United Staes. It has a huge watering hole still seen today in the form of a massive pool that fills itself with runoff from the snows of the winter and whatever percipitation it gets from rainfall. It's a pool about 12 feet deep. People and pueblo peoples would gather here for refreshment and whatever else on their routes. It's also home to some REALLY old carvings that date back as far as 1605. Inscripitions in the rock from settlers, lots in Spanish. They are preserved really well.
There's two trails, a half-mile one that takes you to the inscriptions and circles back to the visitor center, or the longer two mile one that circles around to the top of the cliff areas. However, this is usually open during warmer weather as I found out when me and a group of friends visited in winter, and the trail was closed off because of the snow and ice.
Definitely worth a visit! It's a huge part of the state's heritage!
The Ojito Wilderness is a relatively new (2005), small wilderness area of ~11,000 acres west of San Ysidro, New Mexico. It has amazing geology and is scattered with Ancestral Puebloan, Navajo and Hispanic ruins/artifacts. Cabezon Peak, an ancient volcano, is visible to the northwest. The 150 million-year-old Morrison Formation is exposed in the Ojito Wilderness. The petrified remains of plants and animals have been found there, including the Seismosaurus, at one time thought to be the longest dinosaur ever found but now classified as Diplodocus hallorum. The presence of petrified trees indicates that an ancient forest once grew there beside a flowing river. It certainly is different from that now.
I should mention that I am conflicted about the Seismosaurus site. It is like Mount Rushmore. It was clearly an ancient, sacred Native American site with petroglyphs and a small village. I am sure that even ancient cultures knew that there was something special about the giant exposed bones on the mesa. The site was discovered by non-Indians in 1979. Although it was carefully excavated starting in 1985, and yielded a spectacular, previously unknown dinosaur, the original site was definitely permanently changed.
I first visited the Ojito area on 14 Sep 1991 on a Wildflower Club trip along Route 44 (now US-550). We only went on Cabezon Road ~1.5 miles to the first yellow rock formations and just looked for wildflowers. The Wildflower Club had a specific field trip to the Ojito Wilderness and Seismosaurus site on 31 May 1992. A couple of members knew the way to the Seismosaurus site and took us there. There was a small caravan at the site and it was covered with a camouflage net. There were several areas on the top of the mesa that were staked out. They were either potential sites with dinosaur bones or possible sacred Indian sites. We saw the hole where the Seismosaurus bones were excavated, nearby petroglyphs, and the rock-circle ruins of small dwellings. Someone had even laid out artifacts (arrowhead and pottery sherds) on a rock at one of the dwelling sites. There was also a metate at that site. Our group did not disturb them. I believe someone said during the visit that there were 17 known sites in the Ojito with dinosaur bones, but that may have included petrified logs. The few pictures that I took are included in a Shutterfly album.
I took a second trip to the Seismosaurus site on 15 Feb 1997. Everything looked pretty much the same as in 1992, except that the caravan and staked out areas were gone, and the metate was unfortunately missing. I did not take any pictures on this second trip. I recently retired and decided to visit the Seismosaurus site again on 20 Oct 2011. Things look different now but the Seismosaurus site is easily located. There seemed to be another excavation next to the trail on the way in (near the dwelling ruins) but I have not found it mentioned online. It had been long enough that I did not remember where the petroglyphs and dwelling ruins were located, and we did not find them. After some more research at home, we returned on 23 Oct 2011 and found the petroglyphs and three dwelling ruins. However, we still did not find the dwelling ruin in the picture from 1992. On 4 Nov 2011 I tried yet again to find this site but with no success. I am beginning to wonder if it were part of the second possible excavation. All my new pictures (more than 1200 and with associated information) are on a Shutterfly website for the Ojito Wilderness and Seismosaurus Site. See also four videoclips here at the travel page level.
Access to the Ojito Wilderness is via Cabezon Road (CR-906) off US-550 about 2 miles south of San Ysidro. Turn west and immediately take the fork to the left to the Zia Pueblo land. After 4.2 miles there is a cattle guard and small parking lot where the public lands start. The White Mesa Bike Trails parking lot and trailhead are another 0.3 mile; from there, continue for 1.3 miles, and turn right (west) at the intersection with Milpas Road. The Ojito Wilderness boundary is another 3.9 miles. You will pass a pond in a rock gap (maybe dry) and wind through a canyon with cliffs and salt cedars. The parking lot for the Seismosaurus trailhead is another 0.6 miles past the boundary sign.
There is not a cave or cavern in the entire United States which evokes such astonishment and awe from visitors as does Carlsbad Caverns. This is not the largest cave system in the country, that distinction goes to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, but Carlsbad has more fantastic formations, contains the largest rooms and the largest population of bats. The first time I visited Carlsbad Caverns was with my Dad when I was about 9-years-old. I returned as a middle-aged adult and was amazed at how much of it I remembered from the first visit. This amazing subterranean world had made a memmorable impression on my young mind that will last a lifetime.
The Pecos Wilderness Area is a large area comprising much of the southern sections of the Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. The upper reaches of the Pecos River runs out of the middle of the Area - a favorite fishing river with many campgrounds located along NM 63 coming north from I-25 at Pecos. There are many entry points into the wilderness with many trails taking you deep into the mountains.
Just northeast of Taos, you will find trails just below the Taos Ski Valley resort which will take you to the top of New Mexico - Wheeler Peak, 13161 feet. This is glorious mountain country to explore. Nearby rafting, fishing and mountain biking compete with the skiing and hiking for the outdoor enthusiast's attention.
Wheeler Peak is held sacred by the Indians of the Taos Pueblo.
15 miles north of Las Cruces, the ruins of Fort Selden can be found. From 1865 to 1891, the fort guarded Las Cruces and La Mesilla against Apache incursions, protecting westward-bound wagon trains, the railroad and as an outpost at the south end of the Jornada del Muerto - the trail leading norht to Santa Fe. A visitor center starts you out before you wander the weathered remnants of the old adobe fort. Douglas MacArthur, the famous WWII American general, lived here for two years as a child while his father, Captain Arthur MacArthur, served as commander. $3 fee
If you find your self in Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico and the home of the largest airport make time to take a tour of "Old Town". The tour company "Walk in Time Tours" gives great tours. They will lead you on a trip in time through the Wild west and the territorial period of Albuquerque. You will soon be enlightened on the culure of Albuquerque and the forgotten battle of the civil war!! (wonder what I am talikng about?? Take the tour and find out)
The Bosque Redondo Memorial was established on the grounds of the former Fort Sumner to honor Navajos and Mescalero Apaches who were interned there between 1863 and 1868.
The visitors' center opened in 2005, and was designed by Navajo architect David Sloan. His design was inspired by the hogan (the traditional Navajo dwelling) and the Apache teepee. It contains exhibits about the Navajos and Mescalero Apaches and the ordeals they suffered while interned at the Bosque Redondo reservation. The grounds contain the ruined walls of Fort Sumner, a Navajo travel shrine which contains rocks carried from the Navajo reservation to commemorate the Navajos who died on the reservation, a Navajo prayer rock, a walkway through the five worlds of the Navajo, and a stone marker at the spot where Billy the Kid was killed.
Both Fort Sumner and the Bosque Redondo Indian reservation were established in 1862. The fort was charged with control over the 40-square-mile (104-square-kilometer) reservation, and the purpose of the reservation was to teach the American Indians to be self sufficient through modern farming methods.
About 500 Mescalero Apaches were forcibly relocated to the reservation. And after their defeat, 8,500 Navajos were marched 450 miles (724 kilometers) from their sacred lands in northwest New Mexico in the dead of winter. Many people died during this march that the Navajos came to call the Long Walk.
The reservation was a failure from the beginning. Plans called for a capacity of 5,000 American Indians, but about 9,000 were moved there, so overcrowding was a problem from the outset. The Mescalero Apaches and Navajos had been traditional enemies, so many fights broke out. Alkaline water from the Pecos River caused intestinal problems, and sickness spread through the reservation. There was a lack of firewood for cooking, and crop failures led to hunger and starvation. Many people died as a result of these problems, and the Navajos actually lost about 20 percent of their total tribe between 1863 and 1868.
In 1865, most of the Mescalero Apaches escaped. The Navajos were not allowed to leave until 1868. Realizing that the reservation was a failure, the American government signed a treaty with the Navajos which allowed them to return to their sacred lands in northwest New Mexico and northeast Arizona, where a reservation was established for them.
Fort Sumner was abandoned in 1869. The land was purchased by cattle baron Lucien Maxwell. He converted the officers' quarters into a 20-room house. It was in this house that Pat Garrett shot and killed Billy the Kid in 1881.
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