“The water you touch in a river is the last of that which has passed, and the first of that which is coming. Thus it is with time present.” Leonardo Da Vinci
Hiking in Taos Ski Valley last week had me reflecting on the metamorphic waters living in the mountains. I spent all winter skiing up at Taos Ski Valley, which has an average annual snow fall of 305-inches. Now watching the snowmelt metamorphose into a river that feeds into other rivers inspires a deep affinity for water in New Mexico. New Mexico is 1% water, with the majority of it being the Rio Grande, whose headwaters start in southern Colorado and flow 1,896 miles through New Mexico, Texas and Mexico feeding into the Gulf of Mexico.
Even though so little of the state is water, the recreational activities that involve water here in the Taos region are endless. In winter, skiers and snowboarders can explore miles and miles of snowy trails. Ski season here begins at Thanksgiving and runs through the beginning of April, or into May if you enjoy backcountry terrain. If you aren’t a skier, you can still navigate the waters with a fly rod wading with the tranquil flow of the current casting your rod and releasing your line. Or, you can simply enjoy a book near the fireplace while the snow falls and paints the adobe buildings white.
When winter turns to spring and spring turns to summer the sound of water flowing gets louder, and the opportunities to navigate these currents Increase. It becomes time for camping at the water’s edge, for rafting, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, swimming, splashing or sitting in a camp chair listening to the sounds of finches, pinon jays, and flycatchers. There is natural calming and healing when we spend time near the current of a river or in the fields of snow up on the mountains.
Heritage Inspirations tours offer many of these opportunities to enjoy or navigate the waters. On our Eat Pray Love Tour, a 3-Day trip starting in Santa Fe we enjoy Stand Up Paddle Boarding on the Rio Grande with expert and professional guides at New Mexico River Adventures. We also offer the option of a yoga class along the river, a perfect setting to enjoy the smell of sagebrush and juniper. We join Los Rios River Runners for their Feast & Float on our Heritage Active Adventure 5-Day tour, enjoying a Native American interpretive guide who shares Pueblo history and lore. The stories of the Native guides, and their unique view of the land they live in, provide an intimate glimpse of a very special and ancient culture in these ancient waters. Our Day Tours offer hikes within the Rio Grande Del Norte Monument with fantastic views of the winding river.
As our seasons change and snow melts, make sure you get out and enjoy the mountains and rivers. There are many hikes along mountain streams, lakes and waterfalls that offer breathtaking views. One of my favorite spots is Williams Lake up in Taos Ski Valley. Just shy of 5 miles round trip, this moderate hike leads you up to a cirque valley over 11,000ft. There is a beautiful hidden waterfall on the back side of the lake abundant with wildflowers. Another favorite is Cabresto Lake near Red River. Its a rough dirt road to the top and is best visited in the early morning before the summer crowds, but well worth the trip. For a full day there is an 8 mile in-and-out hike from Cabresto Lake to Heart Lake following the Lake Fork Trail. If you want to hike down the Rio Grande I suggest heading to Wild Rivers Recreation area north of Questa to La Junta Trail. La Junta means “confluence” in Spanish, and where the Red River flows into the Rio Grande. You can take a gorgeous hike down switchbacks into the valley floor. This trail also leads to arsenic springs with lush vegetation nestled into the canyon walls. From mountains to rivers we have so many wonderful places to explore.
We are soon approaching wildflower season and down in the lower elevations Apache Plume has started to bloom along with wild Irises and Desert Paintbrush. Soon we will start to see the Blue Columbines, Mountain Harebell, and my favorite the Fireweed. Whether you prefer to raft down a river or hike along a stream or to a beautiful mountain lake, Taos offers endless ways to do it. See you out there this summer!