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Filed under: Historic Places & Landmarks, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking

A Hike in the Desert…Part 1

October 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 


After our rainy hike in the Taos Ski Valley, we were in search of a drier expedition to entertain us. A glance at a book listing remote hikes in New Mexico led us to a hiking trail up into Chavez Canyon. This was especially appealing as it was located in an area of New Mexico we had never visited. As an added benefit, to reach the unmarked trail head we had to travel through Ghost Ranch, the part of this beautiful state that Georgia O’Keefe made famous and where she found inspiration for her magnificent paintings.

Scenery from our drive

The drive to Chavez Canyon

The other criteria that we were searching for was a hike that contained one or several slot canyons. Ryan was especially eager to do a bit of climbing; the rest of us were intrigued and willing, but less confident in our ability to negotiate that type of terrain.

So it was with a great deal of excitement and anticipation that we set out the day following our soggy climb into new territory. Heading northwest from Taos, we first passed Abiquiu, the town nearest O’Keefe’s ranch. We then passed by the small community of Ghost Ranch, which still provides housing and painting opportunities for young (and some not so young) artists.

As directed by our guide book, we turned off the main road and onto what appears to be a dirt track through red rock canyons. We are advised that we have 12 miles to travel on this road, and are only able to move at about 15 miles per hour due to the rutted  and potholed terrain. Our guidebook further instructs that we should not attempt to drive this road in the event it is raining (thankfully for us, it appears that it has not rained here in quite some time) as our vehicle may be swept off the road and down into a canyon due to the rushing waters. We begin to watch the cloudless skies in the event clouds would begin to appear but fortunately see none.

We make slow progress but see incredible scenery as we drive. Our pace also permits us the opportunity to truly appreciate the beauty and also to snap a few pictures as we slowly pass by.

Finally, we reach what appears to be the end of our journey, at least the driving portion of our trip, and are ready to hike. We are instructed to park in a lot at the end of the road and walk down the path in the direction of the “Christ in the Desert Monastery.’” We are quite intrigued by this as well, as we have seen no other cars on the one lane road we traversed, thankfully, and cannot imagine why there might be a monastery this far away from human civilization.  This would soon make sense to us, however. To be continued…

Read more about New Mexico camping and things to do in New Mexico.

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