What do you do when you are in between projects??? Plan a road trip of course!! One of my friends wanted to camp down at the Great Sand Dunes National Park (in Colorado) for a day or so. The weather was not looking too swift so we aborted that plan.
Given the weather situation in Colorado, other options were researched – Green River, Wyoming? Wild Rivers Recreation Area, New Mexico? The weather also sucked in Wyoming, so Wild Rivers it was! My friend wasn’t interested in New Mexico so I soloed it. IT WAS FABULOUS.
‘If I waited for others to adventure with me, I’d be a full-fledged couch potato’
~Pam (I Choose This)~
“The Wild Rivers Recreation Area is located in north central New Mexico within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Two rivers that run through the park, the Rio Grande and Red River are National Wild and Scenic Rivers.” This description was snagged from Wikipedia that was literally a 10 second read. Not a whole lot written about this place.
I found another blogger who had posted on Wild Rivers, so reached out to her and asked which of the 5 campgrounds were the best. She mentioned, “Big Arsenic (Big) or Little Arsenic (Little)”. I couldn’t seem to find much information on these campgrounds – part of me felt this could be a total disaster.
The pictures found were definitely pretty, but one never knows – living in Colorado generally means New Mexico isn’t greatly explored. A day or so later, the car was loaded with extra blankets, beef jerky and some some yummy red wine a friend had given me months ago.
The drive down was nice and smooth, not much traffic between Denver and Colorado Springs which is essentially a Christmas miracle. The 5 hour drive was spent listening to an Audible book about friendships. Definitely eye-opening and informative. A long-time friendship dissolved a couple of years ago and sometimes I need to unwind things in my mind to figure out how that situation could have been handled better.
Anyhoooo, I got to the Big Arsenic campground and secured my spot. The special thing about the Big and Little campgrounds are that they sit on the rim of the 800-foot Río Grande gorge. SUPER quiet – no-one else was there except a 1980 ish VW Vanagon around the corner from me – I couldn’t see a thing or hear a peep! They were in space #6 which was literally right on the rim. One could easily just drive over the edge if not paying attention.
Once situated, I jumped on the closest trail which was the Big Arsenic Springs Trail, accessible directly from the campground. You hike about 800 feet into the canyon to get to the Rio Grande River. It was stunning – crisp and clear as can be. From there you can walk along the river and back up the canyon to the Little campground and down the road back to Big. All in all, it was about a 5 or 6 mile hike. It was hot as hell that day and realized my 1 liter of water probably wasn’t enough in the heat. The only souls seen on the trail were 2 fly-fisher people – can’t imagine hiking 800 feet out of that canyon in hot waders and boots – UGH.
At night, the stars were U-Mazing…..there is a song with lyrics that describe stars as really “angels taking a cigarette break at night” – I think of these lyrics every time I look into a densely lit night sky. As I was sitting there listening to my Steel Drivers playlist and sipping red wine, my gratitude meter was off the charts. How lucky was I to be sitting there in an unexpected gem of a place???
Many of you won’t make the trip to this place, so the lesson learned here is that you can find magic in the most unexpected places, you just have to step out there and be open to adventure!
…i choose this…