Tuesday, November 29, 2011

El Morro National Monument

Where: El Morro National Monument, New Mexico
Trail: Mesa Top Trail Loop
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Distance: 2 mile loop
Adventure Rating: 4 Stars
Pets: Allowed on leash

The Inscription Trail portion of the hike was very easy. It's paved and flat. The beginning of the Mesa Top Trail is fairly strenuous as it is a 200-foot climb. In the morning, that part of the hike is in the shadow of the sandstone bluffs and was pretty chilly in November. Once we were on top of the bluffs, it was much warmer in the sun. Most of the trail is up on the sandstone bluffs, which is just cool.
See the parallel lines in the sandstone? That's the trail.

El Malpais National Monument

Where: El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico
Trail: Sandstone Bluffs
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: n/a
Adventure Rating: 4 Stars
Pets: Allowed on leash

There isn't a trail per se, but there are plenty of places to climb all over the boulders.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Petroglyph National Monument

Where: Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico
Trail: Piedras Marcadas Canyon
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
Adventure Rating: 2 Stars
Pets: Allowed on leash
The Petroglyph National Monument wasn't the most exciting hike, at first. The monument is located right outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. The parking lot for the monument is in a neighborhood, but once you get out there, you sort of forget about the city.

We hiked the Piedras Marcadas Canyon trail which is dog-friendly and free. According to the NPS website, the trail is "Easy to moderate unpaved trail." We didn't find anything even moderately strenuous about the trail--which is probably why we went off trail.

Along the 1.5 mile (out and back) trail, you can see hundreds of petroglyphs. They tend to be really cool at first, but by the 20th one, I was much less interested. Unless I saw a funny one like the one to the right.

Overlooking Albuquerque

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Where: Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
Trail: Lighthouse Trail
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Distance: 5.75 miles round trip
Adventure Rating: 3 Stars
Pets: Allowed on leash

The pictures of Palo Duro Canyon on the state park's website show majestic rock formations, which was what drew me to the park in the first place. On the drive from Amarillo, my friends and I kept wondering where the rock formations were because the land was flat as far as the eye could see. It was like driving through Oklahoma--flat nothing. It wasn't long before we soon realized that the reason we couldn't yet see it was that it was a CANYON.

We paid the $5 per person fee in the gift shop and then proceeded to the parking lot at the trail-head for the Lighthouse Trail. Palo Duro is dog-friendly and we were able to bring our little dogs with us. The trail is 5.75 miles round trip, hiking out to the lighthouse and back to the parking lot. The majority of the hike is pretty easy. The trail is hard-packed red dirt and easy to trek.
We started the hike in the afternoon (not taking into account that the sun sets earlier in the winter) and ended up hiking back to our cars in the dark. When we started, it was sunny and 60, but by the time we were done it was dark and 50. We didn't bring our jackets with us, so we were a bit chilly.

As we were hiking up the last bit (which was really climbing) we ran into a man and his son. The man urged us not to continue on, but to turn back because it would be dark in an hour. When we asked how far it was to the end, he said less than a quarter mile. So we said we wanted to continue. He then proceeded to tell us that a lot of people had died at the park this year... because of the heat. The guy meant well, but the info he gave us was completely irrelevant. We did hike to the end and saw the lighthouse formation (and we didn't die even though the last thirty minutes of the hike were in the dark).

Saturday, October 8, 2011