New Mexico is beautiful.

On Tuesdays on this blog, I’ve been featuring beautiful outdoor spaces. Today I want you to come along with me to a very pretty place with a sinister name, Diablo Canyon.

The backstory is that my friend Amy, the one I’ve known since high school, is moving back to the Midwest. Before she goes, she told me she wanted to check out this canyon she’d read about – she found a passage about it from the Sierra Club’s Guide to Day Hikes in Santa Fe. I’d never been either.

That passage turned out to be very helpful. Exact directions to get to the canyon (take a left at the first fork in the road, travel 4 miles on the dirt road past the green windmill frame, etc), tips about the conditions (don’t go if it’s been raining), it had a little history, pointed out some birds to look for, mentioned that it’s a better winter hike because it’s about 10 degrees warmer in the canyon than in Santa Fe. It was a handy guide that promised a short but spectacular hike.

We set out on a perfect fall day.

The path was along a sandy arroyo (an arroyo is a water ditch), between the towering cliffs where there were lots of people rock climbing:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The reason you don’t want to hike this after the rain is because it’s no fun to walk through wet sand.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

There are some rocks to hop over at the beginning of the hike, but then the rest of the hike, it’s like walking through a dry river bed. Passing formations like this one:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I didn’t look up the history of why it’s named Diablo Canyon, but it’s probably more than one reason. For one, it’s remote. Two, there’s definitely a big danger of flash floods during the monsoon season. The rock formations are imposing. The river can be dangerous even when it’s not monsoon season.

But as far as a day hike in October goes, Diablo Canyon is totally misnamed. It was not a difficult hike, certainly not dangerous in any way.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The guide book said it would take an hour and a half to reach the river, which was spot on. So it was a three hour hike round trip.

Look who we found along the way:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

It’s a tarantula, they are migrating through northern New Mexico right now. Well, migrating isn’t quite the right description. It’s mating season, so the males are out and about looking for females. They live here all year, but residents usually only see them twice a year – spring and fall – so it appears that they are migrating.

They are very gentle spiders. This guy froze when we walked up with our cameras, which was awesome, like he was posing. In reality, we probably scared the crap out of him. He may be a big spider, but we are still much, much bigger than he is.

We let him get back to his business of finding a mate, and continued on:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

See those yellow trees? We knew that’s where the river was.

Cottonwoods love to grow along the Rio Grande.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Aaaahhhh, the Rio Grande. The perfect place to stop and have a snack, and enjoy the views.

This is what it looked like downriver:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Upriver:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

And across:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Pretty, right?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

We had snacks and drank water while sitting along the riverside. It was so nice. Eventually, we turned around.

We could see the Santa Fe ski basin off in the distance:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The trees out here are nuts. They will grow anywhere (well, try to grow):

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Crazy trees growing out of rocks.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

You have to admire their enthusiasm for life.

More pretty formations on the way back to the car:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I highly recommend this hike in the fall and winter. It was flat the whole way. Dry sand is not difficult to walk on. The views are amazing. Chilling by the river was lovely.

If you decide to go, it’s important to be prepared – Amy and I had plenty of water and food for a day hike. The New Mexico sun is intense, even in October, no one should go anywhere without water. We also had sunscreen – there is not much shade until you get to the river.

Also be prepared for it to be a little crowded. We saw lots of jeeps and four-wheel drive vehicles, and there a couple of dozen rock climbers, we passed maybe ten or so other people hiking back to the river. We even had a funky looking helicopter fly right over us. So it’s not terribly secluded.

But it was still awesome.

The rock climbers were still at it when we got back to the trailhead:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Eeeee!

I hope you enjoyed this tour of a Northern New Mexico hike. If you have any questions about how to get there, let me know.

Thanks Amy, for the suggestion. I’ll miss you, girl!

I’ll be back tomorrow, hope to see you here.

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