A couple of weeks ago I had to go to Las Vegas, New Mexico, for work. I decided to take a little time to see what might be at the local refuge. It was a cold, windy day so I wasn’t too hopeful of much being around.
Most of the small birds were hiding from the wind. There were a few Western Meadowlarks about but definitely weren’t interested in getting their picture taken.
With the cold wind, the Canada and Cackling Geese were hiding out in a low-lying pond. You don’t usually see these two species hanging out with each other. While we have difficulty distinguishing the two species, they definitely know who’s who!
In the distance I saw several Northern Harrier’s searching for lunch.
What was out and not shy at all were Red-Tailed Hawks. They were all juveniles. Such beautiful birds! And they let me get close and take as many photos as I wanted. What could be better than that!?!
This particular hawk had already been successful getting something to eat as you can see dried blood on his feet.
While photographing that hawk, some Morning Dove came in looking all fearful of the hawk nearby.
Nothing much else at the refuge. But as I was driving down the country road back to Las Vegas, I came across one of the most beautiful bluebirds I’ve ever seen. His colors were glorious!
Then to my delight I saw a Ferruginous Hawk on a telephone pole. Such a beautiful bird!
One last bird I saw was a very large Common Raven. Fortunately the lighting was nice and I was able to get a nice photo of this all black bird.
As I was driving home I decided to stop in a Storrie Lake to see what might be about. There really weren’t any birds around. Most of them were out in the middle of the lake where I just couldn’t get a good visual.
Just as I was about to leave, a Rough-Legged Hawk came in and landed on a post right next to my car. How exciting! The daylight was waning, but I had enough light to get a few nice shots. These birds are rarely seen in New Mexico so I was delighted to get such an up close sighting.
All in all I had two great side trips during my busy work day!
Recently I decided to explore Plaza Blanca near Abiquiu, New Mexico. If any of you have seen the movie Cowboys and Aliens, then you may remember the white rock formation that was in the scenes of the final battle of the movie.
I have always wanted to explore this place, but never seemed to find the time to do so. We’ve gotten some small snows this winter, so I headed out on a day that I thought there might be some snow on the trail to enhance my photos.
It was a beautiful day and there indeed was some snow left on the ground.
When I arrived at the parking area, I had a wonderful view of the southwest landscape showing the many beautiful layers of color. I just love New Mexico landscapes.
I hiked down the trail and just started exploring. There’s not a lot of information about this area or the hike on the internet. At first you see the large, white rock formation that is the namesake of the hike. It is quite large and impressive.
Next to the white formation is a large brown one. I love how it stands alone. Looks like something from the set of a Star Trek show.
I then turned left along this formation and continued upstream in the arroyo. At first it was very wide. This is where the snow made beautiful accents to the landscape.
I came upon several trees in the bottom of the arroyo.
I turned around and love how the sun shone through the branches.
That’s when I noticed the hole in the formation. You can just see it behind the tree. I backtracked to get some photos of this.
I then saw another hole. Of course, I just had to see how creative I could get with the “window” in the rock.
I then went back up the arroyo. I came to a fork and decided to take the right fork as it seemed more interesting. The rock formations were really cool. I had Scarlett jump up on one to get a fun photo. She’s so cute in how she will do whatever I ask.
The canyon started narrowing as I followed it. For some reason I love hiking narrow canyons.
Soon we came across water in the bottom of the canyon. This is when I realized I had stumbled upon a slot canyon. I LOVE SLOT CANYONS!
Scarlett loved it too! She soon started running around and playing. She especially loved coming around the bend and jumping across the water.
This is a face of a very happy dog!
I followed the now very narrow canyon. It was so beautiful. The melting snow created some beautiful natural sculptures.
We continued further up the slot canyon until the end of the line. Well…then end for me. I wasn’t willing to scramble up this obstacle.
We headed back out of the canyon. It was a wonderful place to explore. When I got back to the main formation, I decided to take my time and get a few photos of the area.
After finishing up my hike I decided to go by Abiquiu Lake. I’ve never been to the lake before. I thought there might be wintering birds there. But when I arrived, it was dead quiet.
I did like the reflections in one of the coves of the lake. So I took a few photos there before moving on.
I was really wanting to see some birds on my outing. So I headed to a place that I know I will see birds. I went to Ohkay Owingeh Lakes near Espanola, NM.
On the way to the lakes, I stopped to get a nice photo of the Rio Grande. This stop always offers a beautiful view of the river.
I hiked around the two ponds at the park. There was surprisingly few birds about. But I managed to get a few pics.
It was nice to finish up the day with some nice bird sightings. Scarlett and I had a wonderful day. I highly recommend you visit the Plaza Blanca area.
This past weekend was the annual Jemez Historic Site Luminaria Celebration. Each December for one night only the historic site lights traditional luminarias.
Some of you might not know what a luminaria is. It’s a brown paper bag that has sand placed the bottom. Then a candle is stuck into the sand and lighted. The effect is very beautiful and synonymous with the southwest holiday season.
I went with my friend Valerie. We had gone once before a few years ago but we had some technical difficulties with our equipment that hindered us from getting any decent photos.
This year we had much better equipment and a lot more skill too! The event has gotten more and more popular over the years. Needless to say, we had to buy a ticket this year and it was a lot more crowded.
Thankfully long exposure photography eliminates moving objects (e.g. people) in your photo. So what is in person a busy event, in photos looks like no one was there.
My favorite photo of the evening was this one. I love the lighting and composition of it. People were walking around with flashlights, taking photos with flash photography and in general just causing all kinds of light. Which turned out to not be a bad thing! They essentially did light painting for me. 🙂
Though there was a lot of light around me, I tried getting some shots of the night sky in my photos.
Here’s a gallery of the other photos I took at the event. I was pretty pleased with several of my shots. Just click on one of the images to open a slideshow.
Recently I had the privilege to take photographs of rescued raptors at 3 different events! It is a wonderful experience getting up close and personal with these beautiful birds. Plus! All fees associated with these events goes to help the rescued birds.
My first event was the 25th anniversary event of Hawks Aloft. They are a wonderful group of giving, loving people. They take wonderful care of the birds they receive through rescue. Gladly they get to rescue and release a lot of the birds they receive. But if they get a bird that cannot be released back to the wild, they take amazing care of these birds. And a few times a year, they allow the public the opportunity to photograph these amazing birds of prey.
The 25th anniversary event was a wonderful evening. We got to see and speak to many of the “behind the scenes” people of the organization. They had several birds there, but the photo opportunities weren’t that great. But I still had a wonderful time!
I manged to get a few photo ops of the stars.
Western Screech Owl – this photo gives you an idea of how small they are
They were going to have falconry demonstrations, but our unseasonably hot weather prohibited that event. Darnit! I was really looking forward to seeing that!
I did get a chance to photograph one of the participants – a beautiful Apomado Falcon. The coloring of this birds is superb!
The next event I attended was with Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico. They have an annual event known as “Breakfast with the Birds”. They held this year’s event at the Rio Grande Nature Center in one of the areas that you normally can’t see.
It was a wonderful morning! I got to see so many beautiful birds. Some of the birds were injured but some were “human imprinted”, which means they associated with humans to a level that they cannot survive in the wild on their own.
Here’s some of best photos I got that morning.
Western Screech Owl
Great Horned Owl
I liked the perspective of the next photo. I love getting their wings when they are outstretched.
My favorite photo of the event was of this Barn Owl. So beautiful! I think the coloring of the Barn Owl is so unique.
While photographing the raptors, an inquisitive Greater Roadrunner came through. He was very curious of us. You’d think he would have been terrified of all the bird of prey around him!!!
When the event was over, I took a stroll through the Rio Grande Nature Center. I was surprised to see some hummingbirds still hanging around. I really liked this photo I got of a Broad-tailed Hummingbird.
And any chance to photograph a warbler is always treat!
My 3rd event I attended was the annual Hawks Aloft Photo Event. They held it this year in a remote area of the Sandia Foothills. A wonderfully quiet place.
On the way I couldn’t resist stopping to take a quick pic of this Curve-Billed Thrasher. I just love these birds!
I got to get some great photos of the raptors they brought. Here’s my favorites of that event.
Harlon Red-Tailed Hawk – such unusual coloring for a Red-Tailed Hawk
Near the end of the event they brought out “Beautiful”. Believe it or not! A Turkey Vulture can be beautiful!
Turkey Vulture – look at the size of that wingspan! 6 feet of total beauty!
Beautiful enjoying the attention. She is one of the birds that has been human imprinted.
My favorite photos of that event were of the Long-Eared Owl, the Great Horned Owl and again the Barn Owl. Beautiful!
Long-Eared Owl – I loved getting the fall foliage coloring in the background
Great Horned Owl with attitude
I captured a couple of photos of the handler with their birds. Wonderful people!
Handler with the Prairie Falcon. You can tell they adore each other!
One of the attendees getting an introduction. This photo gives you an idea of the size of Turkey Vultures.
Someone suggested the “two old buzzards” take a photo together 🙂 Larry and Beautiful
I hope you enjoyed the many photos I took during these events! It’s been awhile since I last posted. This summer and fall were busy times for me. It’s good to be back blogging!
Back in July my friend Dia and I spent a long weekend at Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I had never been there before, so I was really looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend hiking and soaking in the hot springs.
On our way we stopped in for lunch at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu, New Mexico. (Pronounced Ab-eh-Q) It was a beautiful place to stroll and the lunch was delicious.
Purple Adobe Lavender Farm
Kelly enjoying a wonderful lunch
We also enjoyed shopping in the little store.
Shopping at the cafe
As we drove down the road, we decided to pop in and check out the famous Ghost Ranch. When people hear Ghost Ranch they usually think of the artist Georgia O’Keefe who loved to paint the beauty of the desert here. We didn’t spend long, but I did take some time to take a few photos.
Great old western wagon
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
Old hand-hewn log cabin
Beauty of the Ghost Ranch
As we neared Chama, New Mexico, we passed an Osprey nest. Of course, I had to turn around to get a photo. 🙂
Female Osprey on the nest
While I was photographing the female on the nest, the male showed up with lunch.
Male Osprey with a meal
We stayed at the beautiful Springs Spa and Resort. They have 25 different soaking pools that vary in temperatures from 96 degrees to as hot as 111 degrees. HOT! The hottest pool was called the Lobster Pot. I couldn’t get more than my foot in before I was yelping in pain!
The Springs Resort and Spa
After checking in we decided to go have lunch and let Scarlett run around a bit. Of course, she was thrilled to play in the river.
Scarlett stretching her legs after a long drive.
We ate at a restaurant across the river that had a great view of the resort. We couldn’t wait to get in those pools!
View of the resort and the San Juan River
Looks fabulous doesn’t it?
Of course, we had ourselves a giant margarita at lunch to kick off the relaxing weekend.
One of the things I really wanted to do while staying at the resort was take night photos. I don’t get many opportunities to do night photography, so this was a real treat to have a unique setting.
I first photographed the resort’s hotel. Such a beautiful place.
While photographing the hotel, a pair of girls were playing the outdoor chess game. I was thrilled they consented to let me take their photo. I think it came out nice.
Outdoor chess game under the stars
From there we toured the pools. The first pool we came to overlooked the resort. I liked that there were some people relaxing the in pool. I think they added interest to the view.
Soakers enjoying the beautiful evening
Here’s some other shots I got touring the pools.
Sunken foot bridge through the warm springs
I loved the travertine formations that builds up with the flowing waters of hot springs
I took a few shots from the bridge across the river and from the other side of the river. Beautiful with the reflections in the water.
Gorgeous at night
Definitely a special place
The next day we went on a couple of short hikes. I really wanted to see the waterfalls in the area. I never seem to tire of photographing water.
The views during the hike were spectacular.
Our first hike was to Treasure Falls. It’s not a very long hike, but really beautiful. Of course, where there’s water, there is always wildlife.
American Robin with a mouthful of moths
Northern Flicker digging for grubs
This year the southwest had experienced a pretty severe draught at the beginning of the summer. Because of this, the waterfalls were pretty thin. But I think they were still beautiful.
Lower part of Treasure Falls
My favorite shot of the entire trip was taken at this waterfall. I hiked all the way to the base of the falls to discover a tranquil pool.
To my delight, I spotted an American Dipper. It’s always a real treat to see one of these birds. I love how they dip and bob along the water’s edge and dive into the pools looking for food.
Looking for goodies in the falling water
The other hike we did was to Silver Falls. Dia was my co-pilot and was responsible for finding the trailhead. She led me on a one-hour 4WD goose chase!!! DIA!!!!! I was so busy stressing over the drive, I didn’t take any photos! LOL!
We finally realized we had driven past the falls. We turned around and found the trailhead. This was also a short hike, but very steep! We followed Silver Creek the entire way. There were small waterfalls along the trail.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to the main waterfall. All I can say is WOW! It was spectacular! I think it was about 5 stories tall! The sounds of the falls was almost deafening. I can only imagine what they would look like if it hadn’t been a drought year. Dia and I spent quite some time here enjoying the view and taking a few photos.
Lower portion of Silver Fall
Lower portion of Silver Falls
My beautiful friend Dia
Dia took a picture of me at the falls. I look terrible after a stressful Jeep drive! LOL! My headband says “Jeep Hair, Don’t Care!” 🙂
We spent the rest of the afternoon and the next morning soaking in the pools. It was sooooooo relaxing. We spent some time shopping the great shops on main street before we left town. We found lots of goodies!
On the way out of town I spotted a Black-Billed Magpie. I wish we had these birds closer to home.
When we drove through Chama we spotted a little foal in a pasture along the highway. We just had to stop and say hi.
Dia made new friends fast 🙂
This guy was so new he still has his dried umbilical cord
The drought was about to be over on this trip. The monsoons started in earnest on our drive home. I stopped to take a photo of the storms over Abiquiu Lake. Monsoons in the desert can be very dramatic!
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
All the rain made the Rio Grande turn red.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my lovely weekend at Pagosa Springs! I’m so ready to go back!
Over the past few weeks I’ve had a chance to get out and bird a time or two. I mostly went out to see some rare sightings that have shown up around town. I missed several, but managed to see a couple to add to my life list.
I visited Valle de Oro a couple times. I had heard there were a number of warblers there. It’s always fun to go find warblers, though my neck complains by the end of the day LOL!
When I arrived at Valle de Oro I saw a pair of coyotes out hunting. One disappeared right away, but the other stayed out long enough to let me get a few good pics.
As always, I saw several Western Meadowlarks out singing. I love their beautiful voice.
I walked along the main drainage ditch hoping to see some good birds. A scrub jay announced his presence.
Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay
Then almost right away I heard a lot of birds singing. I just started taking pics of everything that moved. As you know, songbirds are small and fast!!! When I looked at the pics I was surprised to see a several birds I don’t see often. Mainly my nemesis, the Lazuli Bunting. Try my hardest, I can’t get a good pic of this bird.
Black-Throated Gray Warbler
I heard several Summer Tanagers singing. It’s amazing how a bright red bird can hide among green leaves. But they can just disappear! I only got a few pics and they weren’t very good. But I did see a Western Tanager female closer to me.
Western Tanager Female
I had been told where a Common Black Hawk’s nest was near the Valle de Oro. So I went on a 2-mile hike to find this beautiful bird. Once I was in the general location, I looked for the nest. I found it way up high in a cottonwood tree. There was no seeing if anything was in the nest. I waited around for a while and eventually heard the hawk calling from a distance. Then to my delight the bird flew in and landed near the nest. A lifer for me! At first I barely saw him as he was deep in the leaves.
Common Black Hawk
Eventually he moved to a better location for photos. This is a magnificent bird. From what I understand there are only about 250 breeding pairs in the US. They are easily disturbed by humans and are known to abandon nests if bothered too much. So after getting a few pics, I quietly left the area to let them raise their young undisturbed.
Common Black Hawk
On my way back I saw a flycatcher along the ditch. I believe it’s a Hammond’s Flycatcher.
Then I heard another bird calling that I only rarely hear – a Gray Catbird. Always a treat to see and hear! I only managed one pic and that was from behind.
While hiking along he ditch, I enjoyed the wild irises blooming.
While hiking at Valle de Oro I came across this interesting insect. I tried looking it up, but I can’t figure out what it is.
Not sure what this cute guy is….
I had heard about a very rare sighting in the East Mountain area that I just had to go find. There was a Golden-Winged Warbler sighted and it was practically in my back yard. After much searching I was rewarded with a short view of this bird. I took several photos before he disappeared into the deep brush. I managed to get a few decent pics. Another lifer!
While hiking there I was treated to some beautiful wild apple blossoms.
Wild apple tree blossoms
I visited the Rio Grande Nature Center. I hadn’t been there in a while, so it was a treat to see it in the springtime. Right away I heard a Yellow-Breasted Chat singing. I managed to find it in a tree on the island in the pond. So it was quite a distance away.
I also saw the resident roadrunners in the parking lot. Always fun to photograph!
While walking the paths, I heard some Summer Tanagers talking back and forth amongst each other. This time I had more success getting photos of the pair.
Summer Tanager male
Summer Tanager female
There were several Black-Chinned Hummingbirds visiting the feeders. Whenever there are several hummingbirds at a feeder, there’s always fights defending their food. For a tiny bird, they are fierce!
Uh oh! He sees another hummer coming for him!
Defending the feeder!
Here are some of the other birds I saw on my visit.
The gardens were beginning to bloom. The bees were happily gathering pollen.
Giant black bee
I was entertained by a resident White-Winged Dove that has become very tame. The gardeners told me his name was Lonesome Larry. He was so tame, he would take see from your hand. He stayed so close to me, that I barely got photos because my zoom lens had a hard time focusing on such a close subject. 🙂
Such beautiful coloring
I’ve been keeping an eye on a Red-Tailed Hawk’s nest not far from my house. When I visited recently, I saw the eggs have finally hatched. When I first looked, I thought there was only one baby. But the mother flew off the nest and I saw two babies!
Red-Tailed Hawk with babies
It’s been great getting out birding. It was nice to see all the summer birds returning to Albuquerque.
Saturday, March 24, was Scarlett’s 3rd birthday! So of course, to celebrate we had to do something new and different!
On Friday my husband’s band played in Lamy, NM. It’s a little town that is basically a small railroad stop. A few of the residents recently set up an historic train car and turned it into a bar. The quarters were tight for the band, but it was a fun experience.
Vintage train car
My handsome husband Tim
Brad the drummer
And Bill is on base
Reverend E and the Vagrants
While watching the band, one of the locals told me about a hike nearby. They told me about a trail that followed the train tracks that led to a trestle bridge over a waterfall. Of course, I just had to go see that! What a great way to celebrate Scarlett’s birthday!
On the way there, I had to drive through Stanley. So I took the time drive down my favorite road there: Valley Irrigation Road. Since it’s between times for migrating birds, it was pretty quiet. But I did see a few local birds that hang out year round.
Northern Flicker female
Curve-Billed Thrasher – the breeze was ruffling his feathers
Look at the talons on this Swainson’s Hawk
I came across a Say’s Phoebe busily looking for bugs.
And he’s off to get a bug!
I saw some cute prairie dogs and some beautiful antelope too.
Prong Horn Antelope – female in the background
The clouds were just beautiful behind this granary. I just love New Mexico skies!
Granary in Stanley.
My next town was Galisteo. I drove past a Red-Tailed Hawk hanging out on the power lines next to the highway. I turned around and managed to get a couple pics before he flew off.
Hmmm…looks like he learned from the Say’s Phoebe
And he’s outta here! Showing off that red tail.
Finally we made it to Lamy. It’s about an hour drive from my home. I followed the directions I was given and eventually came to an area where I couldn’t drive any further. Time to get out and hike!
My beautiful Scarlett ready to go!
We followed along the tracks for a while.
Following the tracks
I love the old glass insulators that used to be used on electric lines.
Old railroad bolt
I heard lots of birds, but only managed to photograph a couple of them.
The terrain started narrowing from a wide valley. I’d never hiked next to a train track before. I kept wondering when a train might come through.
Soon we came to a narrow canyon. If the train came through now, there was nowhere to go! Yikes!
Scarlett is standing where the waterfall is below. You can see there’s nowhere to go if the train comes around the corner.
I looked down below and saw a beautiful sight. A sweet little waterfall with a beautiful pool.
Looking down to the waterfall and pool from the trestle
We checked out both sides of the trestle. A wonderful part of Galisteo Creek. I didn’t know until later that this area is called Apache Canyon Railroad Bridge Historic Site. There’s not a lot of information available about this area, but I did find out the bridge was built in 1908 by American Bridge Company of New York. It is also known as Spider Leg Bridge.
Scarlett looking down wanting to get into that creek!
I just had to get down there. It was steep! I slid down the whole way on my backside! 🙂
Below the bridge
Once at the bottom, I made Scarlett wait before I let her play. She wasn’t happy about this, but I wanted to get some pristine photos before she got water everywhere. 🙂 I think you’ll agree, this is a special little place.
I love this shot!
Finally Scarlett was allowed to play. She had a blast running and splashing!
Doing her favorite thing: running back and forth in shallow water.
Headed for the deeper pool
That look tells me she is enjoying her birthday hike.
The day was in the mid 60s and it was beautiful. Next thing I know, I’ve got my shoes off and enjoying the water.
Soon we had to leave. I have to say it was much easier going up than down. Whew!
One last look before leaving. So beautiful!
Not long after leaving the bridge, I heard a train whistle. Yikes! We got out of there just in time! Luckily for us, the train stopped in Lamy to let the passengers take a break. I was able to walk all the way back to the car before the train went by.
Saturday, March 17, was my blog’s 3rd anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I started writing this blog. It have had a lot of fun. When I started this blog, it was mainly for my family. My husband and I have no family near us, so this was a nice way to share our adventures with them.
But after 3 years, I have gotten to know a lot of other bloggers. Many of them follow this blog and I follow theirs. I think of several of them like they are my extended family in far away places. They have inspired me in many ways.
Of course, to celebrate my 3rd anniversary, I thought I would blog about a hiking location just outside of Albuquerque that most people don’t know about. It’s called the San Ysidro (e-sid-dro) trails. It’s a unique canyon in that almost the entire bottom of the canyon is exposed bedrock. The bedrock has been eroded over time by water so all the rock is smooth. Indentations have been created by the erosion and they hold water very well.
A view down into the canyon. If you look closely, you can see it is all bedrock.
As I descended into the canyon, I heard a lot of birdsong. There is not a lot of water in the New Mexico deserts. So any place that has water year round is a huge draw for birds. Sadly, most of them were nervous of people and I wasn’t able to get photos of them. But there was a curious Juniper Titmouse that let me take a pic.
Once at the bottom of the canyon, I made Scarlett sit in the shade while I photographed all the different pools. It was fun walking around and looking at all the different angles to best show off the water.
The pools work their way down the incline of the canyon. What a fun afternoon walking on the smooth bedrock taking photos.
After taking my photos, I gave Scarlett permission to play. As you know, that dog loves, loves, loves water! At first she ran around jumping over the pools. I think she wasn’t sure how deep they were.
But then she couldn’t resist any further and jumped in.
Most of the pools were shallow, but somehow she managed to pick the deepest pool and plunged in over her head. I think it was a total surprise for her!
But that didn’t deter her for long, soon she was running up and down the slope and jumping in and out of all the pools.
Scarlett showing off her really long tail as she dives into the deep pool.
Now you see why I made her lay down and watch me take photos first LOL! She got water everywhere!
After she had her fill of running around and splashing, we ventured further down the canyon. The crevices in the bedrock got deeper.
These are my favorite shots of my outing.
Of course, I can’t celebrate my 3rd anniversary without some great bird photos. I haven’t been out birding for a little while, but the Western Bluebirds were very cooperative in the park next to my office 🙂 It’s always a good day when you see Bluebirds!!!
Day 2 at the Bisti started out threatening winter weather. The morning was cloudy but calm. The forecast called for 45 mph winds starting around noon. Fortunately, we got a very early start.
After taking photographs in the sunshine the day before, the Bisti looked completely different in overcast weather. The main thing I noticed about taking photos on this day was the lack of shadows. This is actually a good thing in the Bisti. On a sunny day, you have to deal with the sun shining on light rock surfaces with deep shadows. It’s tricky taking a good photo in these conditions. But with the absence of bright light and deep shadows, I was able to get some really good shots with minimal effort.
We hiked a different area of the Bisti on Day 2. We parked several miles north of the main parking area. We still paralleled the main arroyo, but we were on the very northern edge of the Bisti. Lots of hidden treasures on this hike.
There is one hoodoo (shown below) that actually saved the Bisti Badlands from the ruin of coal strip mining. In 1982 author/photographer Michael Richie published an article for Sierra Magazine of the Bisti Badlands. The main photo of his article (much like mine) caught the attention of a nationwide audience. This eventually led to our Congress designating the Bisti Badlands as wilderness area in 1985. Saving this unique and beautiful landscape for generations to enjoy.
The small hoodoo on the left is what saved the Bisti for all of us to enjoy
We headed up a large arroyo and started climbing up the mesa. The views really started opening up.
I loved the red boulders in the foreground with that amazing hoodoo in the background
You could really appreciate the magnitude of this area. Beauty as far as the eye could see.
The further we hiked, the more beautiful the scenery became. I took so many photos. Each one more lovely than the last.
We explored the mesa for awhile enjoying the wondrous views. Since it was just Jim and I, I told him to get his camera out and take photos with me. The conditions were so nice for photography that he couldn’t resist.
Jim and Scarlett enjoying opposite views 🙂
We were slowly heading toward a popular photo destination: the stone wings. These are unique hoodoos. I have wanted to see these formations for a long time. It was so rewarding to get to photograph it myself.
This wing is delicately connecting two hoodoos
The king of wings
From the stone wings we headed to a very colorful location. Along the way I came across this unique hoodoo. It amazes me that a large boulder can delicately balance on top of fragile sands.
The pedestal under this hoodoo was hollow. Amazing!
We then reached an area that was full of short hoodoos known as mushroom hoodoos. Just fabulous!!!
I just loved walking through this maze of mushroom hoodoos
We finally reached the colorful mesa. It was so wondrous. So many colors. It was a stunning landscape. I took a bunch of photos. Here are my favorites from that area.
Such rich, contrasting colors
I loved the black transitioning to yellow
The black turned to yellow and then the yellow turned to red.
We decided to explore this area further. Jim hadn’t gone past this area before, so it was fun for him to explore as well as me and Scarlett. We came across another “wing” formation that I really loved.
I loved this stone wing
We found an arroyo that led to some more hoodoos and other unique formations.
Jim and Scarlett scouting ahead.
We had lunch here and enjoyed the gorgeous views. Scarlett was having so much fun, I couldn’t get her to relax even while we had lunch.
Scarlett is telling me she wants to keep going!
We decided to head to an area that Jim hadn’t explored before. It was supposed to have a formation called a Dodo Bird. Well, we weren’t sure what the Dodo Bird formation was supposed to look like, but we think this was it. Can you see it??
Dodo Bird formation
But! Just around the corner from the Dodo Bird formation was a totally awesome formation. The Twin Bonnets. Just gorgeous!
Jim gives you an idea of the scale of these delicate formations.
We spent some time here photographing this fabulous formation. Scarlett was finally getting tired. She rested while we enjoyed the formations.
Scarlett was finally getting tired.
While at the Twin Bonnets, the bad weather decided to come in all at once. The breeze immediately went from about 5 mph to 45 mph. Yikes! We decided it was time to head back.
Even though the weather conditions were deteriorating, I just couldn’t stop exploring and taking photos as we headed back to the car. We were about 2 miles from the car, so there were still lots of photo opportunities. 🙂
We came across some giant stumps of petrified wood. They were amazing in the amount of detail that was preserved.
Giant petrified wood stumps
Here’s a couple of closeups of the stumps. I was fascinated by the detail that was preserved and the beautiful blue lichen.
Fine roots were perfectly preserved
I loved this blue lichen
All too soon we were almost back to the car. I had a wonderful two days in the Bisti. I hope you enjoyed my photo tour. I can’t wait to go back again some day!
I’ve been working on the photos for this post for several months now. Last November my husband got me a guided photography tour to the Bisti Badlands for my birthday. I used Jim Caffrey who has High Desert Photo Tours. I highly recommend him. He was fun, informative, patient and knowledgeable.
I went for 2 days and hiked about 17 miles total. For those of you not familiar with the Bisti Badlands, it is a vast area of 45,000 acres in the northwest portion of New Mexico. It was established in 1984 as a wilderness area to preserve the desolate beauty of New Mexico geology at its finest.
Because this area is so vast, you could spend days wandering and not really see many of the formations this area is known for. You could also get completely turned around and be in serious trouble if you lose your way. So having a guide like Jim was the best way to see this natural beauty. He has given tours here for years and took me directly to all the cool places with minimal energy expended.
I took over 5,000 photos during my two-day adventure. So you can imagine it took me months to cull and then edit my photos. Because the formations are so unique, I found I took several shots of the same thing. Trying to see if different angles looked better. Whew! It was a job narrowing down my choices. So get ready to see a lot of photos!
So here’s a rundown of Day 1 of my two-day hike in the Bisti Badlands.
Day 1 – a beautiful sunny day with a few wispy clouds. We headed up the main gulch from the designated parking area. Think of the main gulch as your interstate to the badlands. It can get you where you need to go, but there’s nothing interesting on it. You have to venture off the main trail to see the goodies.
This was the first image I took that day. I was in heaven from the first image to the last.
A hoodoo is a harder rock balanced upon the softer rock underneath. The wind and rain erodes the softer rock faster which creates a hoodoo.
We wound our way up and over a hill to an area filled with hoodoos. Jim said this was in a way a nursery of newborn hoodoos. And it was! The hoodoos were young and just being formed from the side of the wash.
You can see how the young hoodoos are just starting to erode out
Such a fascinating landscape!
From there we headed further east paralleling the main wash. We came across an area that had several “wings”. They are called wings because the rock has eroded in such a fashion that it is delicate and looks like an open wing.
Wings in the making.
A hoodoo “wing”. This one was about 2 feet long and only a couple feet off the ground. I had to get way down low to take this pic.
Sadly this wing has succumbed to the ravages of time.
We eventually came across a formation that looked more like adolescents in age. It is interesting that these formations were all grouped in a clump away from anything else. If you didn’t know they were there, you could easily miss them.
Further along we meandered to an area that had some formations that looked like dinosaur bones scattered. These rocks were huge. So beautiful. I had a hard time capturing them in a photo that did them justice.
I loved how the red plant mimicked the red mesa.
I thought these rocks looked like dinosaur bones.
Ok…I think this totally looks like a dragon!!!
We eventually made it to the “egg garden”. This area is called such because the rock formations look like dinosaur eggs. Who knows!?! They just might be!! Sadly, these “eggs” used to be much more beautiful. Over time they had oxidized and gotten a beautiful dark patina to them. But within the last couple of hears, a hail storm had come through and knocked off most of the patina. It will probably take a few hundred more years to get it back. But I still thought they were beautiful.
A broken egg
You can see the patina well in this photo
Heading further east from the egg garden, we came across an area with petrified wood. Now it wasn’t just small pieces here and there. I’m talking entire trees!!!
From here we entered an area that Jim call “hoodoo overload”. They were everywhere! I just loved it! It was easy to spend a lot of time in this area.
This was one of my favorite photos. I love the moodiness of it.
Jim, my guide
It’s almost otherworldly
This one will definitely slide off eventually
Scarlett had a blast! I made her carry all of our water but it didn’t slow her down much!
I loved the red rocks scattered among the formations.
There was more petrified wood in this area too. The wood was preserved so well that you could see all the texture. It looked like wood, not rock. Amazing!
This petrified wood turned into a hoodoo and is slowly breaking into pieces
I found it fascinating that the petrified wood looked like real wood. I had to touch it several times to make sure it truly was rock.
From here we headed back to the car down the main wash. There was one place along the wash that had an interesting formation. The rock had so much iron it looked very rusty.
Window rock formation
I had a great Day 1. Next time Day 2! A whole completely different area and views!