I finally found a place to watch the sun set in Santa Fe, on the top floor of the parking deck near my B&B. The colors and clouds were beautiful.
[Sunset over Santa Fe]
I drove from Taos through the Santa Fe National Forest. This tributary of the Rio Grande was still and beautiful, reflecting the early morning light.
[Santa Fe National Forest]
The landscape of Northern NM changes surprisingly quickly: from lush to dust, and back again.
Near Ned’s casita in Vallecitos, a beautiful butterfly hovered, pollinating this desert flower.
The rain was coming in as I was driving out of Vallecitos — much needed moisture after a dry spring.
[Storm rolling in]
I loved the shape of these clouds so pulled off on the side of the road to capture it, the coming storm.
The area surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory — the birth place of the atomic bomb — is stark but strangely beautiful.
Bandelier National Monument is both ecological and archaeologically signature, with Native American artifacts and hieroglyphs.
Bandelier burned badly in 2011, and the ecosystem is still recovering, as desert brush gives way to new pine growth.
[Off in the distance]
Between Santa Fe and Albuquerque is Tent Rocks National Monument.
[Tent rocks to mesas]
I was on the top floor of my hotel in Las Cruces, and set my alarm for 6am both mornings to watch the sun rise over the mountains.
Cottonwoods have deep roots, tapping into the aquifer far below the sand dunes.
White Sands National Monument is 60 square miles of dunes, amidst the much larger White Sands Missile Range.
White Sands National Monument; Alamogordo, New Mexico
The rain clouds were rolling in as the sun set in White Sands, creating beautiful god clouds over the mountains.
[Big nature, little people]
Past Alamogordo, I drove up the mountains through Croud Croft, a cool forested retreat.
I took a nice solo hike in the mountains, and was rewarded with a few beautiful alpine stands.
Next stop, Carlsbad, where I was blown away by the strange formations in these caves.
I drove on the 9-mile dirt road through the outer edge of Carlsbad — totally deserted, very beautiful.
Looking out from Carlsbad toward the Guadalupe Mountains in TX.
The dunes south of Guadalupe National Park. If you are looking for the middle of nowhere, I can show you the way.
[Middle of nowhere]
[It was all yellow]
I woke up early to get a head start on the heat, before hiking Guadalupe Mountain– the highest point in TX at 8,751 feet.
[Up the mountain]
[View from the top]