31 December 2013

Rio Grande Bosque, New Mexico

Last Friday’s blog post was a travelogue, Scenic Geology--New Mexico, by Jim Baker. Jim takes us along on another drive today.

My wife, Marcia, had other obligations, so I invited my 88-year old neighbor, Sunny, to accompany me on a road trip to view the Rio Grande bosque cottonwoods, whose green was turning yellow with the fall season.

“Bosque” is Spanish for forest or woodland, and in the Southwest, bosque refers to the gallery forest along riparian floodplains of rivers or streams. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Middle Rio Grande bosque is the largest cottonwood forest in the southwestern U.S., extending downstream some 160 miles from Cochiti Dam, north of Albuquerque, past Socorro to San Marcial (treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/35694).

A view of the cottonwoods from the east bank of the
Rio Grande, looking west across the valley toward
 the Magdalena Mountain Range.
Along the way, we passed through San Acacia, whose main
street is shown here in a photograph from last summer. Note
the vintage vehicles. The village was named for San Acacio,
patron saint of soldiers, but it was misspelled when the post
office was established. The residents still use "San Acacio."
San Acacia was largely destroyed in the great Rio Grande flood
of 1929. This church is one of the few surviving structures.
A view along an acequia (canal), running along
the Rio Grande at San Acacia.
The river road dips into the cottonwood bosque.
The road runs on the east side of the Rio Grande,
and you pretty well better know where to access it
and have high clearance and 4WD to traverse it.
The road emerges from the bosque and climbs into an area
called the Quebradas (breaks). The Quebradas Backcounty
Byway runs about 24 miles, cutting through arroyos and rugged
terrain. The pinkish stuff fronting the cottonwoods is tamarisk—
very pretty but a non-native, water sucking, invasive species.
At the southern end of our drive, we passed through the
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, a well known
sanctuary for migrating bird life. These residents, however,
are mule deer--note the huge ears.
A gaggle of snow geese in the Bosque del Apache Refuge.
Sandhill Cranes in the Bosque del Apache Refuge.
Endangered Whooping Cranes are often seen there,
but we didn’t spot any on this day.
Our reward at the end of the dusty trail: the award-winning
 amber ale at the Socorro Springs Brewery.

I hope you enjoyed Jim Baker’s views of New Mexico’s scenic geology and the Rio Grande bosque. Your feedback would be appreciated. Once again, I extend my sincere thanks to Jim. Thanks for stopping by. And Happy New Year!

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