Caja del Rio Plateau

From the Sangre de Cristo Mountains we descended to the other side of Santa Fe to another part of the Santa Fe National Forest, the Caja del Rio Plateau. We dropped about 3,000 ft. in elevation and went from ponderosa and aspens to pinon pines and junipers. From the mountains to high desert plateau.

At first I wasn’t too sure about this area. The day we arrived is was windy and hot (relatively speaking!). There’s very little shade, it’s dusty, and some places are pretty trashy with evidence of illegal dumping. However, this area proved more interesting than it first appeared. The entire plateau is a volcanic field and within the watershed of the Rio Grande, which flows along the border of the national forest. It’s mostly flat, rolling terrain with some steep peaks jutting upward. Most of the plateau is surrounded by steep escarpments and canyons. There’s hiking and lots of old forest service roads to walk on.

Additionally, the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail goes through here. Meaning ‘Royal Road of the Interior”, it is the earliest Euro-American trade route and basically goes from just north of Santa Fe at Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo) to Mexico City.

Although I wasn’t initially too enamored with the area, it turned out to be a pretty good spot. Conveniently close to Santa Fe, resupplying was easy. It’s a busy area, and people seem to congregate in one area, but there are enough wide open spaces to have some privacy and quiet. We were serenaded by the yipping and howling of big pack of coyotes every night.

The best hike we did while there was through Diablo Canyon, down to the Rio Grande. We saw several groups of climbers dangling from the canyon walls. The area is also popular with movie makers, apparently. The walk through the canyon is pretty short, then it opens up into a wide wash that leads to the river.

It’s a little unsettling to imagine the amount of water that evidently flows through the canyon and the wash and is powerful enough to move trees and place branches on top of rocks taller than me.

In any case, we stayed here for a couple weeks, did alot of walking and got alot done. I made 3 collar and leash sets for some beautiful GSDs in Phoenix, adopted from SPR. Continuing to have problems with one tenant, we realized we may need to get back to Phoenix in 4 or 5 weeks. Also needing to swap out summer clothes and gear to get ready for winter, we decided it was time to head to Ruidoso.