The Great Northern New Mexico Loop

July 14, 2021

El Morro to Mount Taylor

The next morning we rolled east towards Grants in a huge storm — a real gully washer, putting a serious damper on our planned ascent of Mount Taylor.

at the coffee shop

We pulled up at the Mount Taylor Coffee Company and tried to figure out what to do. The forecast called for rain, rain and more rain.

foggy summit

We stashed the big rig at Coal Mine Campground and continued up the back side of the mountain in Ann's 4WH.

But the summit was socked in.

starting up Gooseberry Springs Trail

I lobbied to check out FR193, and lo and behold, the clouds parted, and we stumbled upon the trailhead for Gooseberry Springs!

in the aspen forest

It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous hike, a pine-needle-strewn path through a mature forest of ponderosa pine interspersed with colonies of gleaming white aspen. It reminded us of what it used to be like in the high Chiricahuas, before the fires.

lunch stop

After a steady climb of about 1½ miles, we emerged on the edge of the vast green meadow that covers the south slope of Mount Taylor.


The mix of monsoon clouds and late afternoon sun made for unforgettable views. Photo by Ann H (scroll for a panorama).

overlooking Water Canyon

We clambered to a saddle at 10,800 feet to peer over the edge of the ancient cauldron, separated by a dramatic interior valley known as "Water Canyon".

view from Mount Taylor

From Wikipedia: "To the Navajo people, Mount Taylor is Tsoodził, the blue bead mountain, sometimes translated Turquoise Mountain, one of the four sacred mountains marking the cardinal directions and the boundaries of the Dinetah, the traditional Navajo homeland."

RV cats

A few sharp claps of thunder sent us scurrying back down the mountain. We made it back to the truck just before the rain, happy to tuck into our cozy campsite for the night.