Filed under: Family Day Trips, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking
The Beautiful Orilla Verde Recreation Area
After our busy week setting up internet service and our new mailing address for our soon-to-be residence in Taos, NM, we were in need of a little R & R on our spring break trip. In the mood for a spring hike, we had read an article in the Taos News about the Orilla Verde Recreation Area, just north of town. We headed up that way on a beautiful spring day when the weather was sunny (as is usual) and in the mid 60’s.
The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Orilla Verde Recreation Area is accessed by heading out U. S. Highway 64 toward and past the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, then turning south on the West Rim Road to the Pilar turnoff. Orilla Verde means “green rim,” which refers to the narrow green ribbon of riparian life associated with the Rio Grande.
The Orilla Verde trails are some of the first to shed their snow and dry out during the spring months, so they are a great option for those eager to get out after the long winter hiking hiatus. Two popular trails are the Petaca Point Trail and the La Vista Verde Trail.
The Petaca Point Trail is accessed from the first trailhead after you enter the Orilla Verde area. It heads south for about four miles, and is surrounded by sage and passes through an expansive meadow. There are two lookout points on the trail. From either lookout there are dramatic views; to the north you can see the Taos Junction Bridge and to the south, the Rio Grande runs over shimmering rapids.
In winter, bald eagles can be seen flying up and down the Gorge and golden eagles, red-tailed hawk and prairie falcon are present during summer. Deer and elk can often be spotted moving up and down the canyon near the river. Also, while they tend to be difficult to spot, both bobcats and bear are here too.
Read more about New Mexico camping and things to do in New Mexico.
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