Quebradas Byway Blooms

From a ridgetop in the Quebradas looking west towards Socorro.

Looking over the landscape of the area east of Socorro, you wouldn’t think of it as a very interesting place to hike. A 25-mile dirt road known as the Quebradas Backcountry Byway cuts through a vast emptiness of arroyos, ridges and open rangeland. But if you park at one of the stops along the Byway for a closer look you find many opportunities worthy of further exploration. Today we chose a hike up one of the named arroyos, Arroyo del Tajo, and were rewarded with spring wildflowers, as well as interesting geology.

Desert Marigold

Hillside with ocotillo, not quite in full bloom yet.
Desert chicory
Prickly pear cactus blossom
Look close. Desert onion almost camouflaged against brown rock.
No it’s not ice. A vein of gypsum in the sandstone.
Blackfoot daisy.

Indian paintbrush.

Ruins of a cabin.
Head of a box canyon.
Red bluet.
Forget me not.

Claret cup cactus bloom.

I had hoped that we would see more of the claret cup cactus blooms, as they really are my favorite. But I think this spring has been too dry. Most of the cactii I saw had blossoms that looked like they had dried up before they had a chance to bloom. But it never ceases to amaze me that as dry as the desert is, it can still produce such a variety of wildflowers. I only posted photos of a small portion of the different kinds that we saw today. And with even a little bit of rain between now and when we go on our next hike there will be all kinds of new blooms. If you just get out of your car for a closer look at what might seem a barren landscape you realize the desert is actually full of life.

Sedona Sights

We have many awesome hikes in New Mexico, but one of the most spectacular hiking destinations we have come to appreciate is in our neighboring state of Arizona. It’s pretty hard to beat the beautiful red rock formations in Sedona, Arizona. Fortunately for us, it’s only a 6-hour drive from Albuquerque, making it doable as a short vacation getaway.

Arriving here yesterday in the early afternoon we had time to hike the Doe Mountain Trail, which gives a nice birds-eye view of Sedona.

View of Sedona from Doe Mountain.

Rock cairn on top of Doe Mountain.

Today started with a hike up Cathedral Rock, a relatively short trail. But there are some challenges involving rock scrambles. At one point I looked up a steep, narrow slot that had to be navigated and was ready to call it quits. But a woman behind me gave me a little pep talk, which was just enough to give me the confidence that I could do it.

Cathedral Rock starting descent.
Looking back down the trail from partway up Cathedral Rock.
Still more climbing.
An extra rock ledge you can get to after the trail ends at the saddle.

The second hike of the day was longer, but much easier. It meandered through pinon and juniper forests with enough open views to make the climb worthwhile.

Rock formation at the left is known as the Coffee Pot.

Partway up Soldier Pass Trail.

We had hoped to see some cacti in bloom, but, like northern New Mexico, it’s a bit too early. There were many wildflowers, though.
One of many Agave plants beginning to bloom.

One early blooming claret cup.

Blackfoot daisy.

We will have time for another hike tomorrow before driving back to Albuquerque. It won’t be a problem finding one, because there are literally hundreds to choose from. And, for sure, we will be back here again because even if it is a hike we’ve done, the beauty of this place doesn’t get old.