Thursday, March 21, 2013

Winter Sunrise and the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs

La Cienega sunrise and the Sangre de Cristos
Was out in the Caja del Rio for a sunrise-ride this last Sunday. I had been poring over maps of this area since last fall but just couldn't motivate to drive out there when a dozen other trails could be had from my front door step. I finally struck on the idea that I could access the Caja from the south, beginning from the Petroglyphs (common access is from the east off CR 62 near Marty Sanchez golf course). This two-for-one option suddenly made it worth the drive. My genius is truly without limit.

The riding out on the Caja del Rio is mixed, undeveloped two-track and four-track, embedded rock, several range-fences to stop at and navigate through (or over). Riding the Caja without a tubeless setup or without tools and the know-how to use them is something I'd discourage. Direct access to the rock-art requires a dismount and scramble. But the area is remarkable in its quiet beauty and remote feel so close to town. Very few locals seem to know this, but the Caja is 9,000 acres of public National Forest land that stretches out and beyond Diablo Canyon to the north. That's nearly La Cienega to San Ildefonso, bordered on the west by the Rio Grande. The potential of this area beyond grazing, wood-cutting, and random shooting practice is a bit staggering particularly in light of the successful recent transformation of La Tierra.

Sunday's dawn was magnificent and included a chorus of coyote howls, barking dogs, and the call of roosters from nearby ranching homes. A fine way to start a ride.

Mesa break to the Caja del Rio Plateau.
Maybe the most mesmerizing view of 2013 to date

Up close with my omni-present running/cycling partner - Tetilla Peak. 

Sandia Peak a tower in the near distance

Lonely road through the Caja, framed by the snow-capped Jemez range to the north

Past is prologue
Distance:  18.5 miles
Duration: 1hr 42min
Terrain:  Four-track, unconsolidated rock and basalt, and improvised cross country sections

View La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map


  1. I never did get a chance to check out the Caja. Looks like a place to explore!

  2. Strangest thing with the Caja, it's right there but nobody has visited and nobody knows where the trails/roads go. It's like some futuristic dystopia where the cows are in control and the humans don't dare venture near. Hahaha. Well we'll have most of it ridden out in another month or two. I'll report back.



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