Scenic Drives (Getting There)
Last updated on Monday, February 24, 2003
It began with our stop at Three Rivers Trading Post at the junction of Highway 54 and the road to the petroglyphs. It was obvious that the trading post had been there many years, had undergone many revisions and had been a very important crossroads, railroad stop and social center for the area. Behind the trading post stood the brightly painted red and white schoolhouse, its charm and antiquity begging to be released from its overgrown surroundings and to once again serve a useful purpose.
You say you're bored, the kids are restless, nothing to do! Well, how about spending a day discovering some of New Mexico's great history? This scenic drive will take you to three ancient Indian pueblos and the ruins of three awe-inspiring Spanish mission churches that are some of the most beautiful to be found anywhere in the United States. Along this route you can also hike and play in the Cibola National Forest, bike, camp or fish among the pine, aspen, and maple forests of the Manzano Mountains at Manzano Mountains State Park.
Snow Country magazine called Ruidoso, New Mexico’s Ski Run Road “a 15-mile corkscrew with precious few guardrails.” Well, it’s actually only a little more than 12 miles up to Ski Apache (sometimes it just feels like more) and hey - there are more guardrails than there used to be.
I had flown into Albuquerque, rented a vehicle and driven down to Carrizozo through Sorroco and across the Stallion Station. Severe thunderstorms had moved through the area that day, providing some incredible sights of distant cloud formations with rain shafts and lightning displays. As I drove across Stallion Station, an oryx stood by the fence chewing his cud, a sight that made me do a double take as I had only seen one in a zoo before and had no idea such a critter existed in this country otherwise. I commented to myself that after having read about the Trinity Site bomb test, it was probably just a radioactive mutated range cow deceiving my eyes.
It is late winter, a Monday afternoon, in New Mexico's Middle Rio Grande Valley. The temperature outside hovers at sixty degrees. For one person, the temptation to remove his coat and tie and play hooky from work is too compelling to resist. From Socorro, our adventurer drives south on New Mexico Highway 1 toward the entrancing and renowned Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge. He must, for obvious reasons, remain anonymous.
It's no secret why we call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment. Our state
possesses some of the nation's most beautiful natural wonders, including
Carlsbad Caverns, Taos' Moreno Valley and
White Sands National Monument.
Having grown up in Silver City at the doorstep of the
Gila National Forest, I have always felt very lucky to have
come from such a special place. During my time as a Senator, I've worked to help
promote New Mexico and its splendor as a tourist destination - because it's
important to our people, our economy and also our sense of pride in our home
The North Star Road (Forest Route
150 on the Gila National Forest map), an unpaved road
connecting New Mexico's Mimbres Valley with Wall
Lake, has an undeserved bad reputation. On checking with the
Mimbres Ranger Station, I was cautioned to use a high clearance
vehicle. I have driven the entire route several times, only once with a high
clearance vehicle. I cross-examined the Forest Service person about creek
crossings and they all seemed to be fine, so I gassed up my Subaru wagon. We
loaded it with a picnic supper and took off
“These waters, they soothe me. I could stay
here." With those words, hope dangled before a New Mexico frontier wracked
with Indian wars. Though not within his traditional homeland of
southeastern Arizona, Cochise, the venerated and feared Chiricahua Apache
leader, liked what Ojo Caliente offered .
. . sanctuary and soothing waters to mollify his spirit and body.
Unfortunately, in spite of evidence that the Apache had
used Ojo Caliente for generations and that they were willing to settle there
peacefully, the U.S. government failed to see the benefits of establishing a
permanent reservation. In fact, the Chiricahua were one of the few Apache
tribes in the Southwest that did not get their own reservation. The White
Mountain Apache, the Jicarilla and the Mescalero all received at least some
portion of their traditional homeland as a reservation. Only the
Chiricahua were forever banished from the land so dear to them. They were
shipped far away to prisons in Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma, never to threaten
the Southwest again. One has to wonder if the relocation could have been
avoided if only the government had made good on its promise to allow the
Chiricahua to live at Ojo Caliente.
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