MORE DESTINATIONS FOR YOUR HORSE VACATIONS/VISITS/DAY TRIPS
Rio Chama to dam ride
Follow the Rio Chama river as it winds through the special waters area. This ride is recommended for lazily sightseeing for migratory birds. In winter you might see Snow geese and Canadian geese, as well as ducks. In summer, look for eagles, hawks, and great Blue Cranes. About a hour and a half each way on trail. Most of the trail is a dirt road. This road provides access to anglers for the special waters. ( requires a special permit to fish) There are porta-poties and picnic tables at the base of the dam.
Rio Chama Wilderness Ride
Ride along the Ojitos portion of the Continental Divide Trail
THe trail first takes you through the fragrant sage/grasslands of the lower canyon. Following the well-marked trail of CDT posts, stop at a gravity-fed water trough. Roughly following the canyon bottom, both sides of the canyon feature "desert varnish" a type of iron oxide stain on the sandstone walls. As the canyon narrows, you'll be crossing a wash several times that requires of quick downhill/uphill saddle balancing. Eventually, the canyon climbs to a different eco-zone where the juniper and pinon give way to Rocky Mountain Cedar and Ponderosa. Often the stream flows here in the wash and while there aren't any fish, I've seen bear prints in the mud. This ride can be short or long depending on your endurance. I've set a mimimum for this ride because it off the beaten-path, both trail wise and driving wise.
As another option, although not as scenic, it is possible to ride along either road on each side of the river. This terrain is obviously flatter, but you will still see the cliffs and canyon of the Rio Chama. As a bonus, you can ride or drive to the Christ-In-The-Desert
Monastery, a Benedictine Abbey nestled in the Rio Chama Wilderness. Visit the brothers and their gift shop where you can browse hand-made items, music, and books.
CDT Trail to Mesa de Los Viejas
This is a newly opened section
Great views of the Rio Chama and wilderness area. A nice trail that winds back and forth up the hill. The last part is somewhat steep, but do-able.
Rim Vista at Rio Chama Overlook
Near Abiquiu Lake this short trail (2.3 miles to the top) offers views of Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu Lake, Pedernal Peak, and a section of the CDT. Wind through rocks and this trail makes a short but steep climb the last 200 yds. Check out the view from the picture below! Can be washed out in early spring and watch for rattlesnakes.
San Antonio Hot Springs
This is a great ride. There's the scenery of the canyon and the forest, plus the bonus of a soak in the Hot Springs. I doesn't get any better! It's about a 1.5 hour ride each way and a gradual ascent. It is a bit of a drive however. The Hot Springs are located up in the Jemez Mountains a 2 hour drive one-way from Santa Fe. You can continue sightseeing the Valles Caldera
, Jemez Springs
, and the Jemez Pueblo
so your drive won't be wasted. Bathing suits are not required at this remote natural hot spring. The Forest Service has improved this spring by making small pools downhill, each one cooler than the other. The top pool averages 105 degress. Very popular with the locals, this spring can get busy. Bring some wine, cheese and bread and you have the perfect picnic for this destination. Wear your suit under your riding clothes or duck behind a tree to change.
Close to the San Antonio Hot Springs is the Valle Caldera. This huge volcanic crater is home to large herds of elk, deer and other wildlife. The trails are old logging trails for the most part with some reserved for cross-country. The reserve was created by Congress in 2000 and purchased for public land use. Formerly the Baca Location No 1, it is now known as the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Horseback rides are by reservation through their website, www.vallescaldera.gov
This a a fee area and each person entering is subject to a $20 entry fee payable in advance. Rides are subject to the rules and regulations of the Preserve. Ride time is half to full day. Drive time from Santa Fe is about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Santa Barbara Canyon/ Duran Canyon/ La Cueva Lake Loop
Riding in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is always a treat. From Santa Barbara Canyon you can ride in two directions. The lakes and streams are home to native trout. You can wander the Pecos Wilderness and imagine the pioneers or the more recent sheep herders in their day to day travels. The Santa Barbara trail head leaves the parking area and takes you up into the hig country via a wooden bridge. Wildflowers such as Columbine and Iris abound. Streams are often lined with ferns. This trail connects with many other in the Pecos Wilderness.
Drive time 2+ hours.
Duran Canyon has a less developed campground, but great access and ease for large rigs. The area boasts two alpine lakes, trails through lovely aspen trees, and great views. La Cueva Lake is a small alpine lake surrounded by a large meadow. Kick back here and watch the clouds roll past. Elevation: 10,669.
Pecos Wilderness, south entrance via Jack's Creek
Ride the famous Pecos Wilderness via Jack's Creek, Cave Creek and Stewart Lake. Also, Beatty's cabin and Iron Gate. High Altitude and great scenery. For more info go to the Santa Fe National Forest.
This trail is awesome! Elevation at lake is 11,600 and ride to the top of the mountain is steep, but worth it! Top is 12,400. and there are views to die for! This trail is not for the faint-hearted, fear of heights, or having health risks. Figure on riding at least 4 hours.
San Pedro Parks Wilderness via Resumidero Campground
Worth every mile of drive time, this scenic ride is one of the best. The drive itself is one of the best scenic views too. Along the way you'll get to see Abuquiu Lake and dam, Pedernal of Georgia O'Keefe fame, Red Rocks and canyons of Coyote, and wide open landscapes, and that's before the ride! Riding up the Vega Redonda trail you be amazed by wildflowers, two beaver dams, lush meadows and just when you think it won't get any better, you'll break open into a huge meadow at the top of the world that will make you want to ride across it humming the theme to Bonanza! Great multi-day rides and destinations. Continental Divide Trail is at the top. Great choice for overnight trips.
Here is a great spot for those wanting something closer to Santa Fe. Classic desert, sandy arroyos, sandstone hills, hidden springs, and rugged landscape complete the picture. Easy riding and great views. Ride anywhere from 2 hours up to all day.
Diablo Canyon to the Rio Grande (Santa Fe)
Pure desert except for arrival at the river. 3:10 to Yuma was filmed here. Have lunch underneath the cottonwoods. One way in and out. A good choice for spring/fall rides. Not recommended for the height of summer, due to lack of shade! It's not called Diablo for nothing!
Head Waters of the Rio Chama.
The ultimate ride and overnight destination.
The two main trails in this pristine area are the trails to the waterfalls and the Hughes Trail. Pictures don't do justice to the beauty of the area. Massive cliffs with waterfalls, rivers full of fish, weasles, badgers, and views that take it all in! The rides here are lengthy. It is a 2-1/4 hour ride one way to the falls and more if you wish to explore. The Hughes trail is also long and is about a 6 hour loop. There are ancient glacial deposits and some of the rocks show striations of ice movement. Elevation goes to 10,400 on the Hughes trail side. The stands of Aspen show antler marks from bucks in the rut. The wildflowers constantly change with the seasons. The meadows are full of wild Iris. One of my favorite places to ride.