Amazing “moonscape” areas near Rio Rancho, New Mexico

(Click to enlarge above, from Google Earth)

(from BLM)
https://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/rio_puerco/white_mesa_bike_trails.html

Just 20 miles from Rio Rancho and tucked away in rugged and scenic country southwest of the community of San Ysidro, New Mexico, is the White Ridge Bike Trails Area.
Just to the west is the newly designated Ojito Wilderness.
Both sites are a short distance from U.S. 550.
This region is known for its geological, cultural and paleontological resources, as well as for its scenic qualities.

(Click and enlarge above photo of one of the two “White Ridge Canyon” areas….courtesy of BLM, photo taken on August 25, 2011)

(Click and enlarge above photo – – White Ridge Canyon…photo taken by Norio Hayakawa on March 25, 2017…10:15 a.m….temperature 60 degrees Fahrenheit, about 16 degrees Celsius)

The bike trail crosses a landscape of spectacular beauty and exceptional geology, meandering through the Pueblo of Zia, State of New Mexico, and public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). ,
BLM has obtained rights-of-way from the Pueblo and the State to provide this biking experience.
Although the Trails have been developed primarily for mountain biking, hikers are welcome on the entire trail system, and one segment is also open to equestrian use.

(Click and enlarge above photo of the first of the “moon rocks” areas….photo taken by Norio Hayakawa on March 13, 2017)

White Ridge is named for the color of the gypsum that forms much of the mesa and the majority of the bike trails.
Gypsum is a white mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulfate and is commonly used in cement, plaster and fertilizer.
This gypsum formed as a chemical reaction from evaporation of an ancient water body.
In other words, the Ojito area was once covered with water!
At the western edge of White Ridge, the Tierra Amarilla Anticline forms high, narrow mesa ridges.
This classic example of a plunging anticline is visited by several university field schools each year.

(Click above photo for enlargement, photo taken by Norio Hayakawa on March 13, 2017….you can see the Cabezon Peak in the distance….this was taken just a minute or two from the West Gravel Parking Lot)

(Click above for enlargement…Cabezon Peak in the distance, photo taken from the White Ridge Canyon area, by Norio Hayakawa, March 25, 2017, 10: 15 a.m….nice weather, temperature 60 degress Fahrenheit, about 16 degrees Celsius)

Fossil remains of rare dinosaurs, plants, and trees from the Jurassic period are located in the Morrison Formation.
Natural erosion processes have exposed the bones of huge dinosaurs and large segments of petrified trees.
These fossils are approximately 150 million years old! The longest dinosaur ever recovered, Seismosaurus, was discovered only a few miles west of the bike trails area in what is now the Ojito Wilderness.
Paleontologists and geologists use this great variety of life to construct geologic timelines and interpret climate changes over the earth’s history. Please leave these objects in place.

(Click and enlarge above, from Google Earth…..”moon rocks”/”moonscape” area)….you can see the East Gravel Parking Lot in the uppermost left side of this satellite image

ACTIVITIES:

Although the Trails have been developed primarily for mountain biking, hikers are welcome on the entire trail system, and one segment is also open to equestrian use.

FACILITIES:

None in the White Ridge Bike Trail Area.
San Ysidro, NM, offers the closest facilities and services – approximately 6 miles.

LOCATION/ACCESS:

Traveling northwest toward Cuba on US 550 from Rio Rancho or Bernalillo, the drive is approximately 20 miles.
After passing Zia Pueblo on the right side and just before coming to San Ysidro (about two miles), turn left onto Cabezon Road (County Road 906) at the intersection of Cabezon Road and US 550.
Follow the left fork. Travel 4.4 miles to the first gravel parking lot.
There are two gravel parking lots. The first one is the East Parking Lot.
It is on the south side of the Cabezon Road.
If you drive about half a mile further west on Cabezon Rd., you will get to the second Gravel Parking Lot.
It is the West Parking Lot.
It is on the north side of the Cabezon Road.
It is this parking lot from where you can walk directly to the White Ridge Canyon area to the “viewing spots”. The walk will be about 15 to 20 minutes.
(Click the following for enlargement):

However, if you would like to go first to the “moon rocks” area, then start walking west on Cabezon Road from the East Gravel Parking Lot for a minute or so.
And then start walking into the desert on northwesterly direction.
(In the distance you will already begin to see first of the “moon rocks” areas).
If you would like to get to the heart of the “moonscape” area, you can also take a walking trail just northeast of the East Gravel Parking Lot and keeping walking north and it will turn leftward and will take you to the heart of the “moonscape area”….click the following for enlargement:

However, if you would like to go directly to the White Ridge Canyon areas (a miniature version of “Grand Canyon”), then drive to the West Gravel Parking Lot and park your vehicle.
Start walking northward on the walking/biking trail that is clearly indicated. Keep going and take the left fork. Keep going.
In about 15 minutes, you will get to the amazing viewing areas.

SEASONS AND HOURS:

All seasons and hours. Open year round.

—-

Norio Hayakawa’s CIVILIAN INTELLIGENCE NEWS SERVICE

E-mail = noriohayakawa@gmail.com

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