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Monday, April 18, 2011

April In New Mexico - 5 Great Things To Do

Red Rock Country Near Abiquii

April In New Mexico

Who else besides me is ready for Spring? I can't think of a better time of year in New Mexico than April. The warm temperatures have already returned to Albuquerque and are slowly working their way up to the northern part of the state. After those long, cold, dark months of Winter, I always get excited at the thought of Spring. 

For me, April means it's time to go fishing. All I can think of is packing up the car and the family and driving up to Coopers El Vado Ranch for some early season action. The drive up is half the fun. We always stop in at the Casino in Espanola for breakfast on the drive up. Ok, we also play the slots to, but, honestly it's really all about the breakfast and spending some quality time hanging with the family. Then it's down to Walmart for some grocery shopping. Well, when you get up to El Vado you aren't going to find a store right around the corner. If you want to eat, you either bring it with you, catch it in the river, or drive 30 miles to Chama and have High Country cook it for you.

When you travel up to Northern New Mexico, there are quite a few place you really need to visit.

Wolf Creek Pass - Scenic Overlook
1) You need to take a day and drive up through the Cumbres mountains and visit the Wolf Creek Pass scenic Overlook. What an incredible view you will encounter. The drive will take you approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours from El Vado Ranch. Trust me when I tell you the drive is absolutely worth the effort. If you really want a challenge, take your bike with you. The last time we went over the pass, there were a number of cyclists who are pedaling their way to the top. I felt really bad when I pushed down on the gas pedal of my FX-4 and passed them on my way up. :-) I ride also so it's ok for me to poke fun at my pedaling breathren.

Springs Resort
2) Another very short drive from El Vado Ranch is an overnight stay opportunity called Pagosa Springs, Colorado. When you go to Pagosa Springs, you really should consider staying at the Springs resort. If you do, be sure to take your bathing suit. That's right, even in April you can enjoy the wonderful natural hot springs at the resort. Talk about relaxing in the mountains! The hotel is extremely affordable and I promise you will enjoy the warmth of the natural hot spring tubs and the incredible view of the surrounding mountains. One thing is for sure, the air temperatures in Pagosa Springs tend to run on the cooler side in April. Today (April 18th) the temperature is supposed to reach 65 degrees this afternoon. That my friends is awesome Spring weather at the altitudes you are at in the Pagosa area.

San Juan River
3) Since I have you in the car and driving around the countryside, here is another stop you should consider adding to your April visit to the northern New Mexico mountains. Keep in mind that I was born and raised on the Chama river. I spent my early childhood hanging out with my adopted big brother David Cooper. David owns and runs the El Vado Ranch and lives just a few short miles from the El Vado Lake dam. Fishing the Chama and hanging out with Coop are still my favorite April, May, June, July, August and September activities. Ok, I would go there year around if my wife would allow it. That said, there is one more piece of river that you may want to take a day and check out while you are up there. The San Juan river is roughly 2 - 3 hour drive from El Vado Ranch. The river is loaded with trout and has it's own unique restrictions so check in with the local fly shops in the area to ensure you have everything you need.

Cumbres & Toltec Railroad
4) Another unique opportunity for you to consider while you are staying at El Vado Ranch, is to drive into Chama, New Mexico for the day. First have lunch or dinner at the High Country restaurant. I honestly have never had a bad meal there. The town is about 35 miles from the ranch and is a very easy drive. While there, stop by the old train station and check out the Narrow Gauge steam engines. These engines still run and during the Summer, you can actually ride from Chama to Alamosa, Colorado across the Cumbres mountain range. The train runs through some of the most beautiful countryside you can imagine. If you are in the Chama are in April, you probably won't be able to ride the train at that time. The reason the train isn't running in April is because the mountain pass the train must travel through is still absolutely covered up with snow. Haven't checked the reports lately, but, normally Cumbres pass will still have several feet of snow at this time of year. Once the snow melts, the train will begin it's daily trek Alamosa.

Rio Grande Gorge
5) Located about 1 1/2 - 2 hours from Coopers El Vado Ranch is the Rio Grande Gorge. When you arrived your breath will be taken away by the incredible beauty of the Rio Grande River many, many feet below you and by the bridge you have to cross to get to the Taos side of the river. If you are a real thrill seeker, park your car at the bridge and walk out to the center. The view down to the river is pretty awesome, but, for some a very nerve racking experience. The most adventurous amoung us make the hike to the bottom and camp out overnight. Now that will bring you close to nature and give you a real appreciation for how our fore fathers lived. 


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