Riding Diablo Canyon

- July 20, 2011

"The Devil is in the Details"

Today, our focus is on the black gelding; hoping he will overcome his fear of water. What better place than the ominous sounding Diablo Canyon?? We have been schooling the gelding at the stable, and hope those lessons stick with this spirited guy.

Within 30 minutes of Santa Fe, there are several equestrian trail riding areas. But less than 10 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, down a dirt road just outside the back gate of Las Campanas, is Diablo Canyon. This Caja del Rio section of the Santa Fe National Forest offers endless fun whether it's horses, motorcycles or quads, mountain biking, hiking, or rock climbing.

Seven miles down the well-maintained dirt road, Old Buckman Road, we cross the third cattle guard and arrive at the parking area near the mouth of Diablo Canyon. The lot has ample space for large rigs.

Should we go left and ride the wide, flat, sandy wash, or go right on the hilly truck trail along the edge of the Rio Grande? If this were the height of summer, the sandy wash would not be an option due to the abundance of rattlesnakes. To the right provides more of a challenge with more technical riding and more obstacles. After considering the rider skill levels, we opt for the truck trail and saddle up. We are riding on multiple-use land so we see evidence of motorcycle tracks, but we have never encountered any. Nonetheless, we remain on alert to avoid a surprise encounter.

The trail is typical of New Mexico’s showy landscape and fantastic scenery. We ride along the edge of cliffs overlooking the winding Rio Grande below and down through rust and tan colored arroyos carved by the mighty river and its tributaries. We have never ridden to the end so we speculate how far the truck trail continues.

The sun is dropping low in the sky so we turn our thoughts toward home. We stop at the river bank to give the horses a drink from the fast-moving Rio Grande. Everyone applauds when the black gelding accepts the river – a major accomplishment for this horse and his owner. Returning to the trailers, we load the horses. In our rear view mirror, dust envelops Diablo Canyon and it disappears from sight as we head home.

Excerpted from Today’s Horse Trader Magazine




60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Albuquerque Guide Book by Stephen Ausherman

Saddle Up, New Mexico: The Statewide Horse Trail and Travel Guide By John Buonaiuto-Cloyed and Nina Buonaiuto-Cloyed