Monday, 20 January 2014

Villanueva State Park, New Mexico

After reading about Villanueva State Park and how nice it was, we headed east on I25 exiting on NM3 and then followed the narrow two lane road into what was once Old Mexico.
Our first stop was at the church in San Miguel del Vado.   The Spanish Government approved the San Miguel del Vado Land Grant in 1794, settlements, including San Miguel were established along the Pecos River.   Once a port of entry, travellers and caravans entering from New Mexico paid customs and taxes to the Mexican government, customs activity continued until the area became part of the United States in 1846.

Once through San Miguel, the road follows the river most of the way, the verges were covered with wildflowers and bright green fields ran down to the river, it was very pretty.   In places we could see where sand and mud had washed over the road before being bulldozed away.    When we came to the sign for Villanueva State Park we turned left. 

The long narrow park is right on the banks of the Pecos River, with sites along the river and higher up the side of the valley.   This is a very historical area Conquistadores, including Coronado in 1540 came this way, followed by Francisco Sanchez Chamuscado, Fra Augustin Hernando and Rodriguez Gallegos in 1581, and Antonio De Espejo and Castaño De Sosa in 1592-1593.

Unfortunately for us the day we visited the visitor centre was closed, but a friendly ranger gave us a park map.  In view of all the recent floods in the area we asked if the park had been flooded, he told us that although the river had been very high and they’d been on evacuation standby they hadn’t needed to.  In fact he told us that at this time of the year (September) the river wasn’t usually this high.
Map in hand, although as this was the only trail across the river and we couldn’t get lost, (yes, we’ve heard that before as well!) we crossed the river and turned right to follow the trail to the top of the mesa. 

The trail climbs steadily up, passing a ruin on the way up.   From what the Ranger said it’s not known whether the ruin is Indian or Spanish, maybe it was Indian and then used by the Spanish, it’s a good spot for a lookout so maybe that’s what it was used for, but who knows.

We followed the trail right to the top and lookout, the views were tremendous and you could see for miles, in fact far in the distance we thought we could see the Wagon Mound but as we forgot to take a bearing we couldn’t really be sure. 

It was quite windy at the top and we needed to hang on to our hats, we tried calling Mum, but the call floated in and out with the wind so after a brief chat we gave up. 

This is the view of the campsite and river from the top of the mesa.
After enjoying the view for a while we followed the trail across the top of the mesa,

Before heading back down to the river, this section of the trail is steeper and rougher I was really glad we’d started off the other way. 

Once at the bottom the trail followed a ledge just above the river back to the bridge. 

Back at the truck we explored the rest of the park and then headed back, it’s a great little park and we really enjoyed our visit. 

Have fun, we are!

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