Great Plains Loop

Day 3: Rio Chama to Lake Trinidad, Colorado

In the morning we crept carefully back to route 84, the river a raging torrent of milk chocolate in the canyon below us.
We cut across northern New Mexico on route 64, a curvy and densely forested mountain road that summits a 10,500-foot mountain and then plunges into the Rio de Tusas valley. Lunch was a picnic along the shores of lovely Hopewell Lake at 9800 feet.
We grabbed an iced coffee at Solar Ice Cream Bus and ...
... gazed weak-kneed at the Rio Grande Gorge west of Taos.
We continued east on route 64 through roller coaster forest to Cimarron, where the forest falls away and you end up on high, yellow green expanse of grassland with nothing for relief but the occasional pronghorn or golden eagle. The plains were bathed in eerie lights from a huge storm tracking just to the south.
We rolled over Raton Pass and into Colorado, and made for the first available camping at Lake Trinidad. We barely got set up and were preparing dinner when we were struck by a very violent thunderstorm. The winds tossed us around like a cork on the ocean, and it rained so hard that water seeped in through the ceiling vents and the sealed windows. But apparently the Taco Grande can take it, and we were very grateful to be making this trip with a camper instead of a tent!
Trinidad to Norton, Nebraska