Welcome to Wilderness Wednesday, our weekly posting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.
This week we are highlighting the Rio Chama Wilderness Study Area (WSA). The WSA consists of a gently rolling sagebrush-covered plain with a 900-foot deep canyon carved by the Rio Chama into colorful siltstone and sandstone. Piñon woodlands cover the hills, and forests of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir are found on north facing slopes. Let us direct you to a trail beginning on U.S. Forest Service wilderness lands and ending on Navajo Peak, within the BLM's WSA. Excellent views are enjoyed from the top of this sandstone peak.
Along the Rio Chama, we can look back at Congressional wilderness protection of the past 50 years of the Wilderness Act, and look forward to where the potential exists for future Congressional designation in the next 50 years. Within the first 50 years of the Wilderness Act, the Chama River Canyon Wilderness, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, was designated by Congress (1978). The adjacent Rio Chama WSA is managed by the BLM so as not to impair its suitability for future preservation as wilderness should Congress determine to designate this area as well.
From Highway 84, approximately 24 miles north of Abiquiu, and 7½ miles south of the town of Cebolla, New Mexico, turn west on Forest Road 145. Drive Forest Road 145 for approximately 18½ miles to the Hart Canyon Trailhead, trail #293. A sign will direct you to the Hart Canyon Trail. From the trailhead, hike 1½ miles, descending 1,100 feet, to Rio Cebolla near its confluence with Rio Chama. Cross over Rio Cebolla and ascend the Navajo Peak Trail for approximately 1 mile, climbing 800 feet to the top of Navajo Peak. This is a strenuous hike, and you will need to bring plenty of water. Consider making this an overnight backpacking trip, and bring your fishing pole.
Road 145 is impassible during winter and can be impassible at other times of the year when muddy, such as during the monsoon rains. For more information, please visit the Rio Chama WSA website.
Go to our Facebook page to this post!