The Great River of the North – Rio Grande Gorge, NM
Once upon a time, around 29 million years ago or so the earth moved. Two massive plates, the North American and Pacific scraped and opened up a rift in the earth. Colorado and New Mexico rose nearly 5,000 feet, volcanic eruptions and lava flows covered the earth and the Rio Grande began it’s life. From a trickle in the San Juan Mountains of CO to the gulf of Mexico the 1,896 miles (3,051 km) long river wound its way through the valleys to become the fourth or fifth longest in North America.
This interesting geological event created a spectacular gorge just West of Taos, NM which is where we’ve been secretly hanging out. Here is the rift that formed the river (rather than the other way around), and you can walk right over it at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the third highest in the US at 650 feet (200 m). The fact that the valley came first is obvious once you’re here. Taos lies on a high desert plateau, practically flat apart from the surrounding mountains. From a few miles away there’s nothing to tell you the earth opens up in such a spectacular way, and the gaping jaws of the gorge surprise you as you get closer to the bridge.
We’re camped right in the middle of it all, next to the grand river and surrounded by the beauty of the steep valley walls. Many feet have trodden here and the gorge repeats its history with hidden petroglyphs, hot springs (at Ojo Caliente) and massive remnants of volcanic rock. Wrapping it all in a great, big present is the spiritual play-area of Taos where outdoor enthusiasts combine with artists, history and native pueblos.
But…we’ll come back to that later For now, you may imagine pooch and us hiking the trails and splashing in the water. The weather is perfect (from what our neighbors tell us we just missed the one single week-end of rain of chill they had last week), cacti are starting to bloom, a breeze is fanning the RV and miles of open space are calling our name. That’s what we’re here for, after all.
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