Diablo Canyon in Summer

Susie Morgan - August 5, 2013

'This is the perfect time of year to ride Diablo Canyon Arroyo or the Soda Springs ridge trail above the Rio Grande.'

This is the perfect time of year to ride Diablo Canyon Arroyo or the Soda Springs ridge trail above the Rio Grande.  Getting an early start will save you from being baked in the arroyo.

After a couple of big rains, the county gets out the grading equipment and the road to the staging area is very pleasant for a truck and trailer.  The staging parking lot is just about 7 miles from the turn off onto Old Buckman Road from Las Campanas Drive.  You will know when you are close when you will have just crossed the third cattle guard (cattle gap depending on where you’re from), then go about ¼ mile further to turn left into the driveway.

We like August because the Chubasco rains have washed the debris out of the arroyo, the road has been graded and the water runoff has subsided, making the footing the best it gets.  For grandeur, there are few better sights in Northern New Mexico than those magnificent twin rock formations that stand guard at the arroyo entrance.  These rocks are most famous with rock climbers, but today no one is out above our heads.

While the riding is mostly flat, the technical nature of the ride comes from the rocks that the horses must step over and navigate.  Given that this is an arroyo, the footing is mostly sand.  Luckily, it is not deep sand, but still the horses have to work some to slog through the broad flat arroyo.

Today the skies are a deep blue but the thunderhead clouds are forming early.  Contrasted against the blue sky, the clouds are luminous.  There are 6 of us today being led by NM Outfitter and Las Campanas Wrangler Marty Miller.  Marty has more than 30 years outfitting experience in New Mexico.  He knows the weather, terrain, flora, fauna, and best of all – he knows horses. 

We meander through the arroyo in no particular formation, each horse picking his way through, and chatting amongst ourselves as we ride.  After about an hour, we arrive at the bank of the Rio Grande.  It is running fairly fast right now, but the water is very muddy from the Chubascos earlier this month.  We tested the bank but decided today was not the day for a swim or a drink.

We wove through the Saltpeter trees at the river’s edge, then headed back up the arroyo in the direction of the trailer.  Waiting for us was a cooler of ice cold lite beer and water.  It’s not even noon, and we have already had a fabulous Northern New Mexico experience.