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.
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!
This should be my last post from my trip to Texas last May/June. It’s taken awhile to get caught up on my blog.
Birding in Port Aransas this last time was bitter sweet in many ways. First off I knew it was most likely the last time I would be visiting there. I lived in Corpus Christi from 1982 to 1994. With my parents living in San Antonio, it was an easy drive for us to go to the beach whenever I visited them. The last time I posted about birding in Port Aransas, my dad was still alive and me and my parents had taken a 5-day trip to the beach. It was in May during spring migration. I had plenty of time there to explore all the bird sanctuaries. All the wonderful boardwalks into the marshes and estuaries were so much fun to explore.
Since that last visit, I had forgotten that Hurricane Harvey had come through and dealt a lot of damage to the coastal towns of Padre Island. So while I was excited to visit the beach, I was sad to know my dad wouldn’t be there to join us and that all the bird sanctuaries had been destroyed.
Demolition and construction was still ongoing while I visited. This restaurant still hadn’t been addressed.
Going to cost a pretty penny to get this boat fixed.
Birding this year was tough. I believe a lot of the birds did not linger during the spring migration because the usual areas they visited were completely destroyed. Also, I think a lot of the local birds had left and not returned. Needless to say, it took a lot of driving around to find any birds. But I did manage to find a few good spots.
The first evening we were there I drove to the ferry and the walkway along the intra-coastal channel. The damage from the hurricane was very evident here. Huge pieces of concrete were lifted like they weighed very little.
Destruction from Hurricane Harvey
While here I enjoyed the antics of several dolphin getting dinner. It was interesting to watch them herd fish toward the wall so they could catch them. I spotted a mother and her calf working the wall.
Mother dolphin with calf looking at me
The sunset was gorgeous!
The next morning was when I realized all the local birding hot spots were destroyed. Thankfully I saw signs saying they already had funding in place to repair all the boardwalks. It looked like their plans were even going to improve what was originally there. Someday if I make it back there I will have to see what they did.
I headed to the beach and jetty where I knew terns had gathered in the past. Thankfully, this spot was still favored by the terns. The surf was rough and the birds were gathered in big numbers fishing.
Terns and gulls fishing the rough surf at the jetty
I found an area where the birds were resting and grooming after tackling the rough waters. I was able to get several good pics of the terns resting.
Black Tern Juvenile
From there I headed down the road toward the big bridge going to Corpus Christi. There is a marina there. I’ve seen birds hanging out there in the past so had high hopes I would see some that morning.
Along the highway I saw a hawk looking for breakfast in the coastal grasslands. I had to take a second look as I realized it was a new bird for me! A White-Tailed Hawk. Gorgeous!!!
I saw a Roseate Spoonbill fishing the shallows not far from the marina. I pulled into a construction area to get closer for pics. I managed a few photos before I was run off by the foreman. 🙂
As I was driving into the marina I spotted a beautiful Osprey hanging out on the electric wire. He let me take a few pics before flying off.
The marina was not a disappointment. There were several birds hanging out hoping for a free meal.
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Near the marina is an area that shorebirds have liked in the past. I drove over there to see if I could find anything. I was thrilled to see a pair of Willets with two young babies. I’d never seen Willet babies before. Adorable! I sat for some time just watching this little family. You can’t help but smile and enjoy new life.
Soon though the parents grew nervous and started telling me to move along.
Willet telling me to move along
There were also some Black-Necked Stilts and a Reddish Egret enjoying the shallows.
The next morning I decided to go the Horace Caldwell Fishing Pier. Not sure if I would see anything here, but it was fun to go there at sunrise.
Horace Caldwell Pier
Beach at Port Aransas, Texas
I came across these two children fast asleep on the pier. Their parent must have gotten them up really early to fish. 🙂
Too early of a morning for these kids
The only birds I saw were White-Winged Doves and Pigeons. What I found curious though, was a cross between these two species. Interesting bird.
The Rock Pigeons at the pier had very dark plumage. Doesn’t make sense at a hot beach!
Rock Pigeon and White-Winged Dove Cross Breed
After the pier I drove to the lone surviving boardwalk that overlooked a salt flat. Most of the birds were too far away for photos. I managed to see one bird closer to me. And to my surprise it was a lifer! A Black-Bellied Plover Juvenile. Too bad it wasn’t an adult. They are beautiful birds. Even better, this is a rare sighting for the area! I wouldn’t have believed I identified this bird correctly if it hadn’t been sighted by other birders on eBird.
Black-Bellied Plover – juvenile
I spotted a few birds flying over and managed to snap a couple of photos on the fly. 🙂
During this trip I decided to take a ride on the Red Dragon.
While waiting to start the boat ride, I saw the local offshore fishing tour boats had come in as well. They were hanging up the catch of the day. Lovely Red Snappers with a few other interesting fish mixed in.
Nice haul for the day
It’s was fun sailing with the pirates!
Kelly sailing on the Red Dragon
Arrrrrr…there be Pirates!
Beautiful boat ride
The Captain at his helm
I took the sunset tour. We boated along the intra-coastal and made it to the lighthouse. We got there just as the sun was setting. So lovely!
Sunset over the lighthouse
One day at the ferry I spotted a juvenile Laughing Gull trying to swallow a whole fish. He tried and tried to gulp that fish down.
Laughing Gull juvenile
I love people watching. I think most people do. While there I captured a few fun moments of people watching.
The waiting line for the ferry was so long and slow, this girl had time to get into the back of the car and get cold drinks for everyone. It was fun to watch her walk along with the car while digging in the cooler.
I saw lots of turtles about while birding. I had never really seen turtles there before so it was fun to see several on this trip.
Turtle moving along
I had a great time at the beach birding and spending time with my mother. We enjoyed sitting on the beach, enjoying the warm summer days. And we had fun shopping and eating delicious fish and shrimp dinners. I’m so glad we took the time off to relax after all the stresses.
On my last day at Red River I drove to Eagle Nest, NM, to do some birding and photography around Eagle Nest Lake. It was a cool morning after evening showers. As I drove along the highway, I came across a small herd of elk. Always a welcome sight!
They have mostly lost their winter coat.
When I arrived at the lake, it had a layer of fog over the water. I thought it made for a picturesque scene.
Eagle Nest Lake
A lone boat of fishermen was on the lake.
Fisherman on Eagle Nest Lake
There wasn’t much bird activity out over or on the water. Just a few Canadian Geese flying by.
There was a lot of bird activity around the lake. Most notably swallows. There are very few trees around this lake. So a house nearby was a top pick for the swallows nests.
Swallows coming and going from their nests in the eaves.
As all birders know, swallows are fast! Trying to get a pic of one on the wing is very difficult. But once I realized one of the species of swallows was a Tree Swallow, I was determined to get a pic. This was a lifer bird for me!
There were other birds along the shore of the lake. Most of them were shy so it was difficult getting very close for any photos. But I managed a few.
Western Bluebird female
Red-Winged Blackbird female
While walking along the lake shore, I came across a half eaten jalapeno. Where else but New Mexico would you see that?!? 🙂
Only in New Mexico…
After spending some time around the lake, I decided to go exploring around Eagle Nest to see some of the sights for photos. I came across the ruins of the old lodge. I wish I could have gotten closer, but it was gated inside private property.
Old Eagle Nest Lodge
There was a unique gate post nearby that looks like live hawks and eagles use it frequently for a perch 🙂
While driving around I came across a Turkey Vulture enjoying a deer carcass. Not much left, but still enough for a small meal.
I then decided to visit the old ghost town of Elizabethtown. Not much left but a couple of buildings and a few old vehicles. My creative spirit just couldn’t seem to do much with the buildings….
So I moved on to the old vehicles. I loved this old car.
This used to be a high end car back in the 30s
Of course, I had to get a pic of the old and the new 🙂
But my favorite vehicle was this really cool old truck! Isn’t it great!?!
Of course, I just had to get Scarlett to pose next to it. Her picture didn’t come out so great as she was distracted by the horses nearby.
The horses were right across the street enjoying a lush pasture. This Palomino was a real beauty.
Enjoying spring in the mountains.
Sadly it was time to head back home. The road back to Red River is very scenic. This particular day had awesome clouds with New Mexico’s signature blue sky.
Highway to Red River
Memorial Day weekend was coming up. As I was driving home I passed by this very moving Memorial Day tribute. It was very emotional seeing our American Flag blowing in the wind with signs saying how many of our countrymen had passed in our country’s wars. Their lives have paid for our freedom in this wonderful country of ours.
Memorial Day Tribute
Coming back through Taos, I stopped at a place where there’s a couple more cool trucks. One of them I’ve posted before, but I can never resist photographing this vehicle.
I love this truck!
Beautiful Taos country!
I had a great time visiting Red River. It had been years since I had been there last. It’s always a joy getting out and exploring God’s beautiful country.
In mid-April I went to visit my parents in San Antonio, Texas. My dad had been getting weaker and weaker. I knew I needed to go see him sooner rather than later. Sadly, two days after I arrived he passed away. I’m so thankful I was able to visit him before he passed.
One of my favorite photos of me and my dad. My wedding day on October 18, 1996.
I wanted to dedicate this post to my dad. He always looked forward to reading about my adventures and looking at my photos.
I had taken Scarlett with me. She was upset when dad died at the house. And she was upset that mom and I were grieving. So to help her and me both cope with the loss, I got up early every morning to walk and bird. When I am out in nature, I find it a balm to my soul and a time to talk with the Lord.
There is a greenbelt near my parent’s home that I walk whenever I visit. The first morning I was there, I took a walk on the familiar trail. Since it was April, there were still a few Texas Bluebonnets blooming.
Scarlett walking in the greenbelt.
It was quiet for the most part, but I did find a couple of good birds. One bird was singing his heart out and it took me awhile to find him. Eventually I located him and was happy to see a White-Eyed Vireo.
A further ways down the trail, I saw a movement in a tree. To my delight it was a Red-Shouldered Hawk. He didn’t seem to mind me watching him hunt for breakfast. So I got lots of beautiful shots of this gorgeous bird.
Red-Shouldered Hawk as I first saw him.
He then moved to this great perch and posed nicely for me.
I love the beautiful color and pattern of the feathers on his wings.
Success getting some breakfast.
The next morning I went to a newly found spot called Lake Converse in Converse, Texas. It’s a pretty little park with a semi-wild lake. One of the first things I saw was a pair of Egyptian Geese with 10 goslings. I think they had hatched within 48 hours.
Egyptian Geese with 10 goslings
One of my favorite shots was of a Mute Swan. Such an elegant bird.
A lot of the birds preferred to stay on the far shore of the lake – really testing the limits of my long lens. I had hoped to get closer to the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, but no such luck.
This is the best photo I got of a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
As I walked around the lake, I saw quite a variety of birds. The air was filled with birdsong.
Clay-Colored Sparrow in the foreground and a Chipping Sparrow in the back.
Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
Northern Cardinal with an inchworm
One special treat was a Martin House that was in use. Purple Martins were occupying most of the holes.
As I was leaving one day, I watched this Northern Mockingbird busy looking for insects. I watched him use his wings to try and flush out bugs.
Northern Mockingbird flushing out bugs
Another lake nearby called Live Oak Lake was another treasure for birds. It had a more park-like feel to it. It didn’t have as many birds, but was still a great place to visit. I got there very early one beautiful morning.
Black-Bellied Whistling Duck at dawn
Lake Converse at sunrise
There was a very tame Great Egret hoping for a free breakfast from a fisherman.
One a later visit that Great Egret was fishing along the lake shore. I thought it made for a beautiful photo op.
I watched a Green Heron hunt for fish. He didn’t care that I was only a few feet away. He got so close that I couldn’t focus my long lens on him. I had to keep backing up!
While walking around this lake, I briefly saw a Cooper’s Hawk try to catch some Blue Jays. I heard the Jays squawking about it, but never got any photos.
There were some other birds around the lake that allowed me to take their photos.
One of the highlights for me at this lake was a very sociable Spotted Sandpiper. He let me get within a few feet and take a number of photos while he groomed. In the past when I’ve seen these birds, they fly away before you can get a decent shot. So this was a real treat for me!
One morning I walked along Mud Creek. It’s only about a mile from my parent’s house, so I got there at sunrise without much effort. I loved this sunrise shot with Texas Bluebonnets in the foreground.
Texas Bluebonnet Sunrise
The foliage was thick in this area, but I managed to get a few bird shots here. Mostly there were Northern Cardinals and Carolina Wrens. But a Black-Crested Titmouse was busy singing from the tree tops.
On my last day in San Antonio, I visited McAllister Park. What a wonderful place. Miles of trails in a park consisting of over 750 acres in the heart of San Antonio. There were lots of birds but very difficult to spot them. What I saw the most was White-Tailed Deer. They were everywhere!
Scarlett just couldn’t believe her eyes!! 🙂
Look mom! A deer is right there!!!!
While hiking along a road in the park, I was passed by a man riding a bike. He stopped in front of me and threw out grain for the deer. I think he does this often, as they seemed to recognize him. One in particular let him pet her. When he rode off, several of them followed him for awhile. What a wonderful connection with nature!
How sweet this deer trusts this man and calls him friend.
At the southern end of the park is where I got most of my sightings and photographs. A beautiful Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher posed for me then flew and showed off his seldom seen red feathers under his wings.
Beautiful coloring under the wings.
Here are the other treasures I got at the southern end of the park.
Summer Tanager Female
The highlight of my bird sightings during my visit was at McAllister Park. While trying to photograph a Carolina Chickadee, I heard a noise behind me. When I looked, I saw a Barred Owl sunning himself in the top of a tree. A lifer sighting for me!!! And so beautiful!!!
My last birding opportunity of my trip was a stop in Clovis, New Mexico, to check on the Great Horned Owls in Ned Houk Park. They had successfully raised two young ones, and they were far enough along to leave the nest. They kept a sharp eye on us.
Great Horned Owletts
Just before leaving I managed to find one of the parents. Such wonderful birds owls are.
Great Horned Owl
A Lark Sparrow and a Western Meadowlark were singing happily for us.
Scarlett enjoyed her visit at the park. 🙂
My sweet Scarlett
So while it was a sad visit to San Antonio, I found solace walking among the beauty God has created and seeing so many of his wonderful creatures. I know my dad would have loved to see these photos. The Texas Bluebonnets were always a personal favorite. I know he is at peace now and waiting for me in Heaven.
In memory of my dad:
Joseph Mathew Welch, Jr. Born April 28, 1935. Died April 18, 2018.
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.
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.