“Noooooooooo!” That collective cry of dismay could be heard across Taos County as Carson National Forest announced it was closing to public access Wednesday (June 27), leaving only the Jicarilla Ranger District open.
The Carson joins Santa Fe National Forest and portions of Valles Caldera, Bandelier National Monument and Pecos National Historial Park in closing to the public due to the on-going drought and high fire dangers.
But don’t give up hope, hikers, bikers, horseback riders and campers. There are still plenty of places to go until the beloved forests reopen.
Nearest to Taos is the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, which encompasses portions of the Río Grande Gorge. All the popular trails and three developed recreation areas are open – although no campfires or charcoal grills are allowed.
The monument has some stupendous trails along the gorge and into it. Just go prepared with plenty of fluids and shady hats because it is hotter than Hades out there in the middle of the day. Fishing is still allowed, with a state license, along the Río Pueblo and the Río Grande. Local rafting companies are still busy floating people down the river as well.
The only trail in the monument that is closed is La Junta, which the Bureau of Land Management shut to entry after an elderly hiker fell and died several weeks ago. La Junta Trail at the Wild Rivers Recreation Area is temporarily closed to the public while the agency addresses safety concerns.
La Junta Point overlook and campground remain open. Visitors can access the River Trail and the lower parts of the canyon from the Little Arsenic Springs Trail, according to the BLM.
For more information regarding places to visit in the monument, go to blm.gov/visit/rgdnnm or call (575) 751-4899.
Several state parks are closed through July 4, such as Cimarron and Fenton Lake, but many others remain open, such as Storrie Lake, Heron Lake and Navajo Lake. For information on the latest New Mexico State Parks closures and availability, go to emnrd.state.nm.us/spd.
North of Taos County on the other side of the Colorado border, both the San Juan and Río Grande National Forests are open. The San Juan was closed for a week as firefighters brought a major wildfire under control, but the forest reopened June 22. Plenty of trails and camping are available there. You can find a map of recreation areas in Colorado’s national forests at fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5389835.html.