Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A 13 Mile Ride , A Monastery and an Amphitheatre. More of the Eclipse

We rolled out of bed Monday morning but we weren’t moving very quickly. (I never move very quickly in the morning!) After coffee and brunch we decided to take a Jeep ride through the Santa Fe National Forest. One of our camp hosts, Wenche (pronounced Venka), highly recommended a 13 mile single lane dirt road through the Forest following the Rio Chama River. She said it was beautiful, and she was right!

The entrance via FR (Forest Road) 151 was about 8-10 miles from us just past the Ghost Ranch which we had seen on Saturday. The Forest road is rough and rutted but it was a doable trip even for a car. The Jeep thought it was a piece of cake :)  I did read, though, where even 4 wheel drive vehicles were discouraged from using the road in inclement weather. Seems like you would need a lot of rain to make it impassable for them though.


Although only one lane, there are plenty of pull off areas to use, if need be, when meeting traffic from the opposite direction. That really wasn’t much of a problem as we only met 2 cars coming and 2 cars going back.


The entire drive in you are surrounded by multi-colored canyon cliffs. Part of the way you can see the Rio Chama on your left. When you can’t see her, you can still hear her. She’s not far away.


Right around mile marker 12, we came to the Rio Chama Campground. This is strictly a primitive campground, no water, no electric, no sewer. The campsites sit right on the Rio Chama and it was a very nice, peaceful and beautiful place. Although we drove through, I did not take any photos of the campsites; most were occupied and I didn’t want to invade anyone’s privacy. It would be a wonderful place if you are a tent camper. RV’s such as Lucy would never make it there. She’d be vibrating so hard on that road coming in that I’m sure she’d spring leaks all over! :)


Continuing past the campground, we saw a sign that let us know we were almost to the end of the road.


Yes, there is a monastery at the very end of the 13 mile road. Monastery of Christ in the Desert is where a group of Benedictine Monks live, work and pray.


As we came around the bend, there was a parking area off on the left with instructions that all visitor’s should park there. We did as we were told :)  Although they are open to visitor’s daily, we did not go in. We walked down the road a bit further so I could get a photo of the building. It’s right at the base of the mountain and seems to blend in with its surroundings. There were several solar panels mounted on the property. I imagine they are pretty self-sustained.


After making the 13 mile trek in reverse, we stopped at the Echo Amphitheatre in Carson National Forest. Sure seems like there are a lot of National Forests around here, doesn’t it?  They seem to run into each other :) This was just a couple miles further on Hwy 84 once we left the Forest road.


This 'theater' is naturally hollowed out of sandstone by ages of erosion. The concave sandstone cliffs create echoes.


The trail into the amphitheater is totally paved and takes about 10 minutes and a few stairs. Here’s Rick waiting on me again :)


Once inside, everything was really too close to get a good photo. Rick had to do his Rock Star thing and make a few worthy echoes :)  It was very impressive and beautiful. Both of these excursions were very enjoyable. I think you’d enjoy them too.


Finally, I wanted to share one more photo I took of the Solar Eclipse on Sunday evening. I didn’t share this one initially because I thought the colors were all wrong, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. I hope you do too.


Today, we had a fun day in Taos but I’ll save that for the next blog. Thanks for stopping by. Turtle


  1. I'm impressed that you drove in 13 miles and then backed out the whole 13 miles. Did you necks get sore? ;c)

  2. Looks like you had a really great day. We'll definitely put NM on our list of things to do. Those back roads look like they would be really fun to explore. The scenery is beautiful.

  3. Well, you guys are sure seeing some beautiful sites. NM has much to offer!!

  4. Most of New Mexico is actually Federal/Public Land. Another great place in NM that I have never seen :)

  5. I like how you seem to take us with you on your travels. Cool pics!

  6. Lovely -- we;ve never been to NM, so I am enjoying all this virtual travel.

  7. That really sounds like our kind of day. Thanks for taking us with you.

  8. Thanks for the great tour of a part of New Mexico I've never been too. That amphitheater is pretty neat.

  9. As we were driving Hwy 160 from Del Norte to Durango, and then on to Mesa Verde, I noticed the dozens of NF access roads along the way...you could spend weeks exploring them just in this small area! Oh, and a ranger we were talking to advised us to be VERY careful driving these roads in the wilderness during monsoon season...the most innocent looking road can get washed out in minutes. I don't want to experience that!

  10. Gail, an awesome blog and I always enjoy reading them. I totally agree with you about family and friends who read our blog and never comment or sign up. Then you meet the person you least expect and they comment on how much they enjoy our blog. Such a great feeling!


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