Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
Trip Start Aug 12, 2013
46Trip End Oct 02, 2013
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I headed for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument Visitor Center in Pilar, NM today. Rio Grande del Norte is one of the newest national monuments, having just been created in March 2013. Most national monuments are managed by the National Park Service but this is one of the 19 managed either entirely or partially by the Bureau of Land Management.
The Visitor Center is small and was staffed by just one person. They had a room to show movies but they don't have a movie about the national monument yet and they were showing a movie about art in Taos. I got some maps and headed out.
I didn't have time to do much hiking so I decided to take some of the scenic drives in the park. I first headed north on Highway 570 through the Rio Grande Valley. At the southern edge the road is just above the river. After crossing a bridge over the Rio Grande the road changes to Highway 567. It then climbs up and out of the canyon. I then took Highway 115 north to Highway 64.
I took Highway 64 west to the town of Tres Piedras, NM. From there I headed north on Highway 285 to Antonito, CO. This route is on the plateau above the canyon. It's interesting but not as unusual as the canyon. After reaching Antonito I headed back to Tres Piedras.
In Tres Piedras I headed east on Highway 64. I stopped at the rest stop where the highway crosses the Rio Grande. At that point the canyon is roughly 600 feet deep.
Next I headed north to the town of Questa, NM. A bit north of town is the 13-mile Wild Rivers Backcountry Byway. I took it and stopped at the overlooks. At that point I'm told the canyon is around 800 feet deep. It's not the Grand Canyon but it's still impressive.
After I got back to Questa I headed for Raton, NM and found a hotel. I'll stay here a few nights while I visit Fort Union National Monument and Capulin Volcano National Monument. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the next couple days is for a significant change of more thunderstorms.