The Great Northern New Mexico Loop
July 12-13, 2021
Silver City to El Morro National Monument
When our friend Ann H. proposed a joint camping trip in honor of her late husband and our dear friend, we eagerly signed on. But hey, once we drove nearly all the way to the Colorado border, why stop there? Why not continue north and east to complete the trip Dennis and I had planned a year ago, before the
Covid-19 pandemic? And Ann decided to tag along, for her first big trip with her new Four Wheel Camper.
And so we wandered north around routes 180, 12, 32 and 36 — among New Mexico's most scenic highways — past ancient farming villages, through a landscape of dense pine
forest and buff-colored mesas.
South of Quemado, we drove through a torrential rainstorm. Since it was still early, and too wet to camp,
we just kept driving, which put us within 100 miles of El Morro National Monument, which never fails to draw us in like a giant magnet whenever we are within range.
We were very fortunate to nab the last two sites in one of our favorite campgrounds!
Next morning it was off to hike the "Headland Trail Loop", which skirts around the rock and then scrambles to the gleaming summit, under the most perfect of monsoon skies — all deep cyan with puffy white Georgia O'Keeffe clouds.
I can't count the number of times we've done this hike, but I never get tired of it.
Photo by Ann H.
Photo by Ann H.
Atop El Morro, the world is blue and white.
At the very top of the trail are the ruins of Atsinna Pueblo, which dates from about 1275. It is believed to have housed 500 - 600 people in a series of interconnected rooms
surrounding an open courtyard.
Arriving as we did at the height of a thoroughly satisfying monsoon, there was no shortage of fantastic flora and fauna, including this dazzling flame skimmer.
Western Spiderwort blossomed all around the campground.
Rocky Mountain Bee Plant (also very popular with ants).
Colorado Four O'Clock.