Riding the San Ysidro Anticline – Back Country Report from Bill Manns

- March 12, 2012

"The longest dinosaur ever recovered, Seismosaurus, was discovered only a few miles west of here"

Sunday, March 11, we rode in the San Ysidro Anticline. This is BLM (public land) west of the Zia Indian Pueblo and east of the Ojito Wilderness badlands area in northern New Mexico. This was our first time here, and as with most new areas, it takes several rides to really discover the area and trails. This time of year, we are looking for lower, drier riding areas.

The mountain trails are still snow covered and will be for many more weeks. The San Ysidro Anticline (means, upwardly folded rock) is where strata of the Summerville, Morrison and Dakota Formations are upturned by 60° or more, forming a series of tall jagged, parallel ridges of sandstone and other rocks of greatly contrasting colors, including brown, black, green, red, yellow and, most strikingly, pure white. The longest dinosaur ever recovered, Seismosaurus, was discovered only a few miles west of here.

We saddled up and followed a trail to the top. At the edge of the plateau, the vantage point had an excellent view of the Jemez Mountains and the canyon floor 600-700 feet below. The canyon walls are very steep, to almost vertical in places. At the highest point, we were surprised by the trail (we thought it was a trail but it was a 700-foot sheer cliff)—one of those “OH S #@&” moments! We found a very narrow rocky trail that circled the rim.

The day started out with a few new inches of snow in Santa Fe, totally cloudy and about 28 degrees. By the time we started riding, it was in the low 50s, sunny and warming to 62 degrees later in the day. We had a little wind but were able to ride all day in just a vest.  After the ride, we explored the nearby Ojito badlands and plan to get back out there soon, weather permitting. It was another great adventure-filled day—horseback in new country. It doesn’t get any better.