Hike Falls Trail Bandelier NM/Valles De Caldera National Preserve

Thursday, August 25, 2022

50 degrees at 6:00, high 75?

We hiked 1.5 miles to Frijoles Creek Falls. It’s a pretty cool area where the creek flows down a steep canyon and into the Rio Grande River. Since we are in monsoon season, the water was flowing nicely over the fall. 

We talked with a couple from Durango, Colorado, who had some good suggestions for our next stop, Taos. Combining theirs with our Airstream friend in Santa Fe:

1. Ride the narrow gauge train

2.  Drive the 80-mile loop from Taos

3. See the missions on the upper road to Taos

4. See the two houses owned by a lady in Taos

5. Taos Pueblo

As I look north of Taos for the next place to go, I see we run into Great Sand Dunes National Park. We are coming up on Labor Day, so we need to be booked.

We went back to the Visitor’s Center and watched a movie about the park, then toured an area they had just reopened since the fires last year. It is a very nice visitor’s center with very friendly and informative staff.

We had lunch at the pretty, little cafe. Eating in a courtyard planted with Hollyhock with hummingbirds zooming around.

We drove west, up a winding mountain to see Valle Caldera that we had heard about from several people. Stopping at a beautiful overlook, Martha said, “I think that’s the prettiest place I have ever seen.” We drove into Valle Caldera National Reserve and stopped at a small house that was the Visitor’s Center. Two rangers were busy repeating instructions to visitors. We opted for the drive through the beautiful valley to get the big picture. At lunch at the Indian Art Festival, Bob had told me about fishing the two streams here. They are beautiful, clear spring creeks running across the valley.

It started to rain as we began our drive. It is a beautiful grassland reminding me of Yellowstone. We kept looking for deer or elk, but never saw any. We did see a very pretty coyote. Although there are some very nice cabins, there is no place to stay in the park, but there is a campground not far up the road.

Coyote trots by

Valle Caldera is a super-volcano, like Yellowstone, and it is still active. There are a couple of hills and mountains in the valley, which I learned reading the brochure, are due to the magma refilling and pushing up those hills. When this one went off a million years ago, it was 600 times more powerful than Mr. St. Helens! 

It rained heavily as we splashed through puddles on this dirt and gravel road. I kept looking for a rainbow, but never saw one. As we drove out, the rain stopped within a few miles, making us wonder what forces this caldera holds. 

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