Open Spaces

One of the things that I think I like most about New Mexico is that for the most part, no one lives there (45th among US states in population density).  Coming from Southern California and having been born and raised in New Jersey (#1 in pop density), crowded spaces are pretty well known to me.

But there is something undeniably wonderful about an open horizon and more-or-less unspoiled wilderness – and the high deserts of northern New Mexico offer that in abundance – plus some great geology in which to poke around.

On one of our days in New Mexico, we took a trip to Abiquiu – a tiny fork in the road about 50 miles northwest of Santa Fe.  Abiquiu is probably most noted for being the long-time home of American artist Georgia O’Keefe.  The drive along the Rio Grande (yes, that Rio Grande) and especially the Chama River valley are spectacular.

As you leave the Chama, the landscape gives way to geological formations of striated rocks, canyons and mesas – including perhaps my favorite mountain, The Pedernal.

One of the cooler (and easily accessible) geologic attractions is the Echo Amphitheater which is about 15 miles further up the road from Abiquiu – this partially hollowed out sandstone cliff is very dramatic and there is a short trail which takes you right to the base of the cliff.

All-in-all, throw in a stop for crispy chicken tacos at a tiny out-of-the-way place and you have the makings for a great day out in the open.

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8 thoughts on “Open Spaces

  1. I've always wanted to visit New Mexico. The photos are lovely. Something about sandstone is so special and sweet. Love the strata – I wonder if the ampitheatre has interesting acoustics! I imagine the sandstone (and clay if there is any) would not be great for that.
    In the Badlands there was a neat white layer that was a K-T extinction boundary. It makes you wonder what secrets are hidden in the cool geological formations that you saw.

  2. Emmi — interestingly, all the geology from this area is made of volcanic "tuff" — from a huge eruption of the volcano that is (was) the base of the Jemez Mountains — so I don't really know if they're sandstone or not.

  3. Katie — I remembered that you worked in Chimayo — I can't imagine how living there day in and day out — as opposed to a place like Santa Fe — changes your perceptions. I remember reading about the heavy influence of the drug culture in Espanola and such places.

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