The Plains of San Agustin, Valley of Fires and the Trinity Nuclear Site
March 30-April 2, 2017
I read maps like some people read books, so my eye was drawn to a large open plain just north of the Gila Wilderness. The
Plains of San Agustin stretch for about 50 miles, with a width varying from 5 to 15 miles. Within this area lie, according to one
observer, "all things strange and wonderful".
The high-altitude basin was created by a Pleistocene lake that occupied the area between 11,000 and 23,000 years ago.
At the height of the Ice Age, the lake was more than 250 feet deep. As the
ice melted, the lake level dropped precipitiously, and by the time humans occupied the area 13,000 years ago, the lake had
been replaced by several seasonal playas.
Beginning in the 1940s, archaeological excavation of a series of caves along the shore of
lake provided evidence of some of the earliest cultivation of crops including maize, squash, beans, sunflowers
and other edible wild plants.
Nearby Pelona Mountain is also the site of a theoretical alien landing. In 1947, a local farmer reportedly found bodies of four
aliens near a crashed flying saucer, and according to local legend, the area was cordoned off and the military
escorted everyone off the site after warning them not to talk about it.
Scroll for a panorama of the San Agustin Plains under a gleaming mantle of snow.