#TravelTuesday with My Public Lands
The Río Grande del Norte National Monument offers a large canvas of wide-open sage covered plains dotted by volcanic cones, and cut by steep canyons. The Río Grande itself carves an 800 foot deep gorge through layers of volcanic basalt flows and ash. The Rio Grande was one of the first eight river segments protected in the U. S. as a Wild and Scenic River and is a popular fishing and whitewater boating destination.
The Monument is an important area for wintering animals, and provides a corridor by which wildlife move between the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. Herds of wintering elk can often be seen on the plains in the northern part of the monument offering great photo opportunities.
Photo tip: If you come upon wildlife while in your vehicle, keep a reasonable distance and stay inside and roll down your windows to capture photographs. Animals are typically not startled by the presence of the vehicle, but will become agitated and run as soon as you exit on foot – not good for the photographer or the wildlife.
The Wild Rivers Recreation Area northwest of Taos is a great place to get a taste of the monument. Several campgrounds and numerous trails (including several into the canyon depths) offer numerous photo angles. The dark skies of this remote area offer optimum star viewing and night photography opportunities.
Photo tip: Nighttime opens up a whole new world of photography opportunities. Long exposure star trails, moonlit landscapes, and the countless stars of the Milky Way are a few things one can capture. A tripod is a must to photograph at night, and most images will require some additional processing in a digital darkroom program. There is a bit of a learning curve to capture successful night images. There are many on-line tutorials and photography books that provide great instructional techniques.
Photo by Bob Wick, BLM