Northwest New Mexico has a lot to offer when it comes to outdoor adventure. I’m sharing a few of my favorite discoveries that are bucket list worthy to add to your adventure list.
Take A Scenic Ride in the Sky
Experience what it feels like to float in the air during a Hot Air Balloon ride at Red Rock Park with X-Treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures. Even though we reached heights up to 1500 ft., the ride itself was anything but extreme. In fact, we didn’t even realize when we had taken off because it was so gradual. A hot air balloon ride is seriously one of the most surreal and tranquil adventures that I’ve ever experienced. As you drift in the sky, taking in all of the incredible scenic surroundings of the mountains and canyons, you are left with the feeling of wonder and gratitude.
This experience is such a gift and I HIGHLY recommend this bucket list adventure for anyone AND everyone, young and old. Our pilot Bill even let us help with the setup and tear down which gave us an even greater appreciation for what goes into the experience. I promise that it’s not scary and it’s unlike any other experience that takes you up in the sky. You can watch footage from inside our hot air balloon here.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
Fly fishing is such a relaxing adventure for all skill levels. I don’t fish very often but I do enjoy a challenge. I had only fly fished one time before and that was from a boat. I really enjoyed fishing in the river so much more because you have a continuous movement the whole entire time and it also gave me my “A River Runs Through It” moment. You feel the warmth of the sun mixed with the cool stream from your waders causing you to be completely immersed in your surroundings.
We went fly fishing at two different locations on the San Juan River. The first stop was at Soaring Eagle Lodge with our guides Aaron and Brad. Our second fishing stop was at Majestic Enchantment where guests have access to a private lower sector of the San Juan River. I tried the dry fly fishing technique for the first time which is where the fly floats on top of the surface of the water. It took a little while to get the hang of the “new to me” technique but I enjoyed trying something new. I had better success with the nymphing technique where the fly is under the surface of the water and I caught three fish. I honestly did not expect to discover that New Mexico could be such a great destination for fly fishing. The gorgeous scenery and warm temperatures make it perfect for anyone from a novice to a pro.
Take it Off Road
You have miles of trails and endless adventure spread over 19,000 acres. This is also a popular area for rock crawling but I’m leaving that to the professionals. What blew my mind is that there are no fees to access the public land, it’s open year round, and all night! This is a spot that I definitely want to come back to. We toured for a bit and then each of us had the opportunity to drive the Polaris RZR. Most people rent the RZR and are on their way to explore after a safety briefing. You rent the UTV either way but you can opt to have a guide for an additional fee. Renters also have the option to trailer the RZRs and take them to other sites. I really enjoyed the experience of arriving just before sunset and then touring a little more at night.
We were fortunate to take in some incredible views of the stars at Glade Run Recreation Area in Farmington during the evening of our off-roading adventure. If you look closely you will see a shooting star to the right of the tree pictured above.
We stopped at an area with a wide view of the sky and our guide brought over a few camping chairs he had strapped to the back of RZR along with a cooler, making it the perfect setting for stargazing. If you want to take your stargazing to the next level, you will want to visit sites on the Dark Sky Trail. New Mexico has been named one of the World’s Top 10 stargazing spots and was one of the first states in the U.S. with a law that protects their skies. The combination of a dry climate, high elevation, low population make New Mexico certified by the International Dark Sky Association with Gold and Silver-Tier Dark Sky Parks for locals and guests to enjoy.
Take a Hike with Ancient History
Get a glimpse of the lives of an ancient Pueblo civilization with structures that date back between 850 and 1250 A.D. at Chaco Canyon. I recommend that you use the Chaco Culture National Park directions and four-wheel drive for the trek in because you have to take unpaved roads to reach the park.
Chaco Canyon is a great place to hike so plan accordingly with your time, it’s one of 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the US so history buffs will feel a bit like Indiana Jones, and it’s also an International Dark Sky Park which means that if you get the chance to stay there in the evening, do it!
A New Hike Each Visit
Blaze your own trail at Bisti Badlands where the scenery shifts creating a new landscape with each visit. Hikers beware that there are no marked trails so you could easily get confused on your surroundings and it’s best to visit in the early morning or late afternoon because you are exposed in the sun and cell service is not reliable if you have any at all.
I’ve been told that some of the most incredible scenery is 2-3 miles in so make sure that you allow time to explore. You will truly feel like you are on another planet with landscapes that look out of this world.
New Mexico really surprised me in a good way, the dry heat makes summer temps more bearable than the Midwest, the unique landscape, and incredible culture make it a state filled with epic outdoor adventures that you will want to return to for years to come.
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