This blog chronicles my letterboxing adventures. It includes posts that share my travels that are letterboxing related, the letterboxes I have found and planted as well as the people I have met along the way. There are also photos included to help give a complete picture of the fun I had.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

A Wild and Enchanting Letterboxing Day

Last week I planned on taking a trip to the Taos area and do some letterboxing so I worked on getting boxes put together and on clues. And this morning Thomas and I left the house at around 7:00am and headed north. The drive was pleasant and relaxing. There was no traffic on this early Labor Day morning. We didn't stop in Taos, we continued our drive up to Questa and a little beyond. About three miles north of Quest we turned onto NM 378 which begins the Wild Rivers Back Country Scenic Byway and leads to the Wild Rivers Recreation Area which sits in the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument. I have wanted to visit this area for a while now and just never made the time. I was looking forward to this drive.
We drove along passing through the town of Cerro and made our first stop at Sheep Crossing Overlook.
View from Sheep Crossing
We took a short walk from the parking area and got some amazing views of the Rio Grande. After about 10 minutes and a few pictures, we returned to the car and continued our drive. We next stopped at Chiflo Trail. This is a short half mile walk and has great views. Then we drove to Bear Crossing Trail. From the parking area, we walked down a path and passed a picnic table and continued straight ahead to the edge of the canyon. The views at this spot are incredible and we ended up sitting and just enjoying the peace and quiet.
View from Bear Crossing
Twenty minutes later we headed back toward the parking area but decided to take the trail for a bit and see what was down there. While walking down the trail I decided to plant the first box of my NM Scenic Byways: Wild Rivers Back Country box. I found a good place and jotted down some notes and took pictures so I could write up clues when we returned home. Once the box was in place and I felt good about my notes we returned to the car and continued on. We next stopped at the Pay Station to pay our $3 fee and then continued on to the Visitor Center. They have two 3D maps of the area outside that you can get a bird's eye view of the area. We looked around the gift shop and talked to the attendant and got a map before heading out again. Our next stop was at the El Aguaje Campground.
Confluence of Red and Rio Grande Rivers
Here we took another short walk and got some wonderful views of the Red River. After a few pictures, we returned to the car and continued on to the La Junta Overlook, Campground, and Trail. Here they have a paved path that walks around the camping and picnic areas and leads to an overlook for the confluence of the Red and Rio Grande Rivers. Again there were incredible views. The La Junta Trail starts here and is a 1.2 mile one-way trail that leads down to the confluence. It is labeled as difficult and you have to traverse ladders and stairs during your 800 foot descent into the canyon. We didn't do that. I didn't think I could make it back up so we saved that trail for another time. We did take a short walk along the Rio Bravo Nature Trail and got some beautiful views of the Rio Grande. We left this area after about 30 minutes and decided to make one more stop before leaving this area and continuing on with our day. That stop was at the Chawaluna Overlook. From the parking area, we took the gravel trail to the overlook and walked along the rim (which is fenced off) a short ways to admire the views. Then we went in search of a spot for the second box of the NM Scenic Byways: Wild Rivers Back Country box. It took a bit of time to find a good spot but we managed to get it done. I took pictures and made notes and then we were ready to head out.
Note: This box is made of two stamps that are stamped over each other. When you find box one you will stamp the image and then when you find box two you will stamp that image over the first one - to get a good image line up the top and side edges.
From the Wild Rivers area, we drove out the way we came in and made our way back to Questa.
Eagle Rock Lake
Here we started our drive on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway and hiding a series of five boxes related to the byway. We turned onto NM 38 and drove for about a mile and a half and stopped at Eagle Rock Lake. Here we planted the first box for the NM Scenic Byways: Enchanted Circle box. We walked around the lake and then crossed the bridge over the Red River and found a nice spot for the box - away from the people fishing the lake. Once I had pictures and notes we headed back to the car and continued our drive to Red River.

We didn't spend a lot of time at any of the stops we made along the way because we had a lot to do and wanted to make sure we had enough time.
Red River
Once in Red River we drove to the Convention Center and parked. From here we crossed the covered bridge and headed up the Red River Nature Trail. We walked the trail in one direction but couldn't find a spot for the second box because the landscape slope down toward the river and there wasn't any real safe place to plant the box. So we turned around and headed back the other way and thankfully the trail leveled out and we were able to find a nice spot to hide the box. I made notes and took a few pictures and then we returned to the car to continue on with our day.

Next, we continued along NM 38 to Eagle Nest. We turned onto US 64 and drove through town and headed for Cimarron Canyon State Park. We stopped at the office and talked to a ranger to find out about the trails and got a map of the park.
Eagle Nest Lake
My original thought was to place the third box here but once we were out on one of the trails we changed our minds The area was really overgrown and I was having trouble finding a good spot and there were so many bugs. Lots of flies and mosquitos and I didn't fancy getting eaten alive so we nixed that idea and headed back toward Eagle Nest. We stopped at a pullout that overlooks the lake and I decided to place the box here. I didn't want to put the box at Eagle Nest Lake because I already have my Alphabetical NM: E (Eagle Nest Lake) box there. The pullout isn't the nicest place but it does give you a great view of the lake while stamping in. After finding a good hiding spot, taking pictures, and making notes we were ready to continue on.

Our next stop was in Angel Fire. We turned off of US 64 and onto NM 434 and made our way to Monte Verde Lake.
Monte Verde Lake
The lake is located about two miles past the Visitor Center and I was a little confused about the area. It seems the lake is part of the Angel Fire Resort and could be a private area. But we didn't see any signs and when I was doing research I didn't see anything that said it wasn't open to the public. So we continued on with our mission. We drove around the lake because I wanted to place box four on the Lady Slipper Trail. We found the trailhead and walked a short ways up the trail and found a decent spot to hide the box. I took pictures and made notes and then we returned to the car. Before we left Angel Fire we stopped at the Visitor Center to find a letterbox. I followed the clues (which were a bit of a puzzle) and found Garden Tour 2016 by wadecat. I brought the box back to the car to stamp in and then replaced it without any problems. Now we could leave Angel Fire and continue our drive.

Back on US 64, we continued on our drive towards Taos. Our next task was to find Forest Walk by Brave Bonnie Bonsai and Miley Mystery Machine. The clue is a poem and I had spent some time researching before we left home and I hoped I had figured out the right spot. Once we arrived at the location and started looking I was relieved that we were in the right place and we easily found the box. I found a spot to sit and I stamped in. Then once the box was safely put away we walked back to the car and continued with our adventure. We drove to mile marker 264 and stopped at a pullout to find another box - this one being From Texas with LOVE to the Land of Enchantment by Texas Wanderers. This was a quick and easy find with straight forward clues. I stamped in while sitting in the car and then replaced the box. Now we had one more stop to make and then we were done. We continued along US 64 and drove through Shady Brook and then made our next stop at the El Nogal Picnic Area.
(Not sure if this is a picnic area or a campground or if it is a trailhead. I have found lots of things mentioned here from signs at the location and from things on the internet. There is a brown sign on the road that points to the are and mentions the South Boundary Trail #164 and an arrow pointing to the Devisadero Loop Trail #108 across the road. Google maps shows this as El Nogal Campground with both trails noted. When we pulled into the parking area we saw a sign for the El Nogal Trailhead, so I am not sure exactly what the area is called but you are safe to know that it is El Nogal and whatever else - picnic area, trailhead, campground, etc.)
Anyway, we stopped here and parked. We took a trail that crossed a bridge and walked a short distance before planting the last box in the NM Scenic Byways: Enchanted Circle box. Again, I took pictures and made notes so that I could write up clues when I got home.
Note: This box is a series of five boxes placed in five different towns along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. I know it is a lot of driving but the Byway is worth it. The five stamps are stamped together to form one image and I made a template for you to use. The lines are very faint because I didn't want them to interfere with the image but I think you will be able to see them well enough to stamp the images in the right spot. You can download and print the template at NM Scenic Byways: Enchanted Circle Stamp Template. There is only one logbook in the last box. The clues are written in a way that you can find the boxes in any order. I hope you enjoy these boxes.
Now we were done. It was time to head back home. We had a great time on the Wild Rivers and Enchanted Circle Scenic Byways. It was a full day of driving and stopping but it was wonderful as well. It was 7:00pm before we got home and we were both tired. But after showers and some dinner we feel good.
Our Drive Today

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