Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Mexico ... What a Gorgeous State! Come visit us.

Anyone who has read my blogs knows I am in love with New Mexico. My books, the BJ Vinson series, extol the beauties of the land almost as much as they concentrate on the mysteries that occupy the protagonist. The Zozobra Incident describes Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and points between. The Bisti Business takes us to Taos and across the state to the Four Corners area around Farmington and Shiprock and the Bisti Wilderness area. The City of Rocks explores the southern and Boot Heel sections of the state. And that leaves so much not yet covered.

The purpose of this post is to reinforce the image of a fascinating state by showcasing only three of the state’s National Monuments. This is not a scholarly discussion of the sites, in fact there is amazingly little prose appended. I’ll depend upon the spectacular photographs to do the job. All are courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons. The brief descriptions are provided by Wikipedia, as well.

White Sands from Space

White Sands National Monument

This is a US National Monument located about 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, covering a part of both Otero and Doña Ana Counties. We have all seen photos similar to the one on the left, but I suspect few of us have viewed the monument from space, as seen on the right. The area is in the Tularosa Basin, covering part of a 275 square-mile field of gypsum dunes … the largest in the world. Because gypsum is water-soluble, it is normally dissolved by rain and carried to the sea. The Tularosa Basin is mountain-ringed and has no outlet to the sea, so the dissolved gypsum is trapped. As water either sinks into the ground or evaporates from shallow pools, gypsum in a crystalline form called selenite is deposited on the surface. Well worth a visit!


Ute Mountain rising above the
Rio Grande del Norte

A roughly 240,000-acre area of public lands in Taos County was proclaimed a National Monument on March 25, 2013. It contains the Rio Grande Gorge (visited in The Bisti Business and in prior blog posts) and surrounding lands. The monument includes two BLM recreation areas: a portion of the Rio Grande which has been designated as a Wild and Scenic River, and the Red River Wild and Scenic River. The city of Taos is a logical starting point for a rewarding visit. Heck, Taos, itself, which is a noted Art Center, is worth the trip alone.


Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
This Bureau of Land Management supervised site is located 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe, near Cochiti. One passes the Santo Domingo Pueblo (recently renamed Kewa Pueblo) on the way to Tent Rocks, as it is commonly called. The area was created from layers of volcanic rock and ash deposited by a volcanic explosion within the Jemez Volcanic Field (also a subject of a previous blog post on the Valles Caldera) some 6 to 7 million years ago. The weathering and erosion of soft pumice and tuff from caprocks over the years has formed cones called Tent Rocks as high as 90 feet in height. There is a 1.2-mile trail leading through Slot Canyon to a lookout point where the rocks can be viewed from above. The park is located on the Pajarito Plateau between 5,700 and 6,400 feet above sea level. This site is open only in the day and does not permit dogs. The monument may be closed by order of the Governor of Cochiti Pueblo during tribal holy days when the pueblo does not permit the presence of outsiders.

Again, the photographs are courtesy of Wikipedia Commons (3).


I hope this whetted the appetite for all of you to visit us and experience our natural wonders and get a taste of the three dominant cultures of our state: Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo.

As always, thanks for reading. Let me know what you think of the post.

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


  1. Really nice post, Don! But how did we manage to get on the same page--and even on the same day?

  2. You know the saying about great minds. But System 1 or System 2?


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