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    • New Mexico

      Governor Richardson Pushes for LWCF
      Dear Chairman Rahall and Congressman Hastings,

      We are pleased that the Natural Resources Committee Chairman recently introduced H.R. 3534, the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2009 which will provide full, dedicated funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at the maximum level authorized by Congress. This provision would provide $900 million to protect special places such as federally managed parks, refuges, trails, cultural and historic places, public lands, as well as state and local parks and recreation facilities for close-to-home conservation and recreation.

      Carson National Forest: Top Picks

      Rip It Up at Taos
      Taos Ski Valley has been one of the shrines of North American skiing ever since Ernie Blake opened the resort more than 40 years ago. And the mountain has fiercely stuck to its guns as a place where skiing, and only skiing, is celebrated. Snowboards aren't permitted, the trails and lifts have a decidedly old-school character, and the base village has a minimal number of divertissements. But that just shows that the Blake family knows exactly what makes Taos special - - this is truly a skier's paradise. The huge bowls, crenellated steeps, and glades of the 12,000-foot Kachina Peak ridge are regularly buried under deep but feather light loads of desert-dry powder; when it's not snowing, Taos is a sun-worshipper's paradise. If you're an expert skier with a taste for ski tans, you couldn't do better than Taos.

      Bike the Sangre de Cristos

      More than one mountain biker has called a traverse of the difficult high-country South Boundary Trail a "life changing" experience. It climbs steeply from Angel Fire and high-desert rangeland up into the fastnesses of the Sangre de Cristos, where over a twisty 25 miles of single-track it weaves through aspen and ponderosa forest before dropping through a pulse-pounding 13-mile descent and eventually wending into Taos. Sublime scenery, awesome views, a monster workout, and ample technical challenges - - what more could a fat-tire biker ask for?

      Ramble through Wilderness
      Hard against the Colorado border in a lonely corner of Carson National Forest, the 18,000-acre Cruces Basin Wilderness doesn't receive a fraction of the attention received by more vertical plots like the Wheeler Peak and Pecos Wildernesses. But if you're looking to get yourself thoroughly away from it all and into some of the most pristine, lovely country imaginable, you couldn't pick a better spot. A lush land of wide-open meadows, rounded mountains, and clear stream broken here and there by granitic outcrops, the Cruces Basin is bursting at the seams with wildlife - - there's a healthy elk population, along with bighorn sheep, yellow-bellied marmots, and streams full of brook trout. There are no maintained trails in the wilderness - - you'll need to be totally self-sufficient in the backcountry and in possession of excellent route-finding skills to handle a trip here.

      Raft the Rio Chama
      A major tributary of the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico, the Rio Chama flows through a multi-colored sandstone canyon that is at times 1,500 feet deep, and through designated wilderness. Towering cliffs, heavily wooded side canyons, and historical sites offer an outstanding wild-river backdrop for a raft trip; the most popular reach runs 30 miles from the El Vado Dam south to the Abiquiu Reservoir. Rapids are mostly Class II-III, a bit lower in summer when river flows are lower.

      Fish the Red River
      A pretty canyon stream, the Red River cascades frothily through steep-walled chutes, drops into deep, turquoise pools, and bounces through choppy pocket water on its journey toward the Rio Grande. The resident fish tend not to be sizable, but the stream gets a couple of runs from migrant trout from its larger sister. The appeal of the Red River is the solitude, the wild trout, and the fact that in the dead of winter, with snow all around on the Sangre de Cristos, fishing on the Red River can be a temperate, comfortable endeavor. Dry-fly fishing in winter, we might add.

      Cycle the "Enchanted Century"
      A trip round the "Enchanted Circle" - - the loop around Wheeler Peak - - is justly famous as a jaw-droopingly scenic road trip, further sweetened by the museums, ski areas, and other points of interest that dot the route. But there's the rub, at least for cyclists: These roads are plied by a few too many cars for our tastes. Far less popular but just as satisfying is a trip round the so-called "Southern Enchanted Century," which begins in Taos, climbs up into the hills on NM 518, runs east on a long, spectacular downhill all the way to Sipapu Ski Area, takes in some huge vistas of the eastern Sangre de Cristos near Holman Hill, and turns north onto NM 434 at Mora. From Mora, you'll face several brutal climbs but the surrounding wooded canyon scenery will keep your spirits up. The route mellows out as you roll through the broad Moreno Valley, eventually reaching Angel Fire. The home stretch follows US 64 back into Taos. This 104-mile ride isn't for everyone, but for those who've got the lungs and leg power it provides an unforgettable close-up of some of New Mexico's finest country.

      The above from