The Great Northern New Mexico Loop

July 20, 2021

Hopewell Lake to Agua Piedra

We blew through Taos, the tourist mecca, without stopping, paralyzed by the number of cars jamming parking lots and spilling onto the street at every eating establishment. We headed south on NM 518, and entered a land as severely up-and-down as NM 64 was high and rolling. It was pouring rain and the temperature had dropped into the 50s when we pulled over at the tiny Sipapu Ski Area. Forlorn as are all ski areas in the absence of snow, it had a store where we picked up a few groceries, and a back patio where the jubilant Rio Pueblo rushes under a tiny wooden bridge.

Agua Piedra Campground

Arriving early, we were able to nab two first-come-first-served spots at the fully booked Agua Piedra Campground.

By the late afternoon, the clouds had lifted and we set out for a hike along galloping Agua Piedra Creek, which was galloping from bank to bank.

beads of water on aspen leaf

The monsoon was primed and ready to put on quite a show for us!

Mountain Gooseberry

Mountain Gooseberry

Nodding Onion

Nodding Onion

Coneflower and bee

Coneflower

Twinberry Honeysuckle

Twinberry Honeysuckle

Canadian Buffaloberry

Canadian Buffaloberry

Pinewoods Geranium

Pinewoods Geranium

Weidemeyer's Admiral

Weidemeyer's Admiral

variety wild mushrooms

The monsoon was at its apex here, and feeding a bewildering variety of wild mushrooms. This series of photos is for our dear friends and wild foods connoisseur, Marcel Lebeau and Christiane Tremblay.

Russian thistle in bloom

Thistle be the last photo, I promise!

field of wildflowers

We enjoyed the Agua Piedra hike so much that the next morning we set out to hike another of the three trails that launch from Agua Piedra Campground. A steady climb (1000 feet in 2.4 miles) took us to Indian Lake (9500') and the most spectacular display of summer wildflowers we'd ever seen.

yellow Mariposa Lily

There was an entire field of Gunnisons' Mariposa Lilies.

purple Mariposa lily

I had no idea they came in so many colors, including this vibrant purple.

Ann taking pictures

Of course we took a gazillion photos!

Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the distance

And then we turned around and saw the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Patches of snow were visible on Jicarita Peak (12,835').

Indian Lake

Near the summit was an actual lake, with water.

Indian Lake panorama

Indian Lake. Scroll for a panorama!