Friday, August 30, 2013

Diablo Canyon Hike (Santa Fe)

Hike Difficulty: Easy (little elevation gain but walking in soft sand is tough!)
Hike Distance (Round Trip): 6 miles 
Time (Round Trip): 3-4 hours
Elevation: 5450 feet to 5850 feet

Diablo Canyon hike is not on a marked trail, but rather follows an arroyo (dried up river bed) from the parking area all the way to the Rio Grande (3 miles one way). The canyon itself is quite spectacular. This hike was so different from the hikes we've been doing in the Santa Fe and Taos ski basins. Where those hikes are shaded by Ponderosa pines with views of green mountains, Diablo Canyon is definitely a desert environment with close to zero shade. We completed this hike on an August morning. We were at the trail by 9am, so we had some shade in the actual canyon. However, we got through the canyon pretty quickly. Probably 2 1/2 miles of the 3 mile one way hike is not in the canyon. We roasted. We enjoyed the hike, but I think it would have been more pleasant on a fall day.

If you are completing this hike in the summer, please remember lots of sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of water. As they say in New Zealand, "slip, slop, slap." Slip on a shirt, slop on 30+ sunscreen, and slap on a hat. Add plenty of water to your pack, and you'll be ready for Diablo Canyon!

Also, make sure there are no thunderstorms in the forecast or suspicious looking clouds in the area. I wouldn't want to be in the canyon during a flash flood.

Getting to the hike wasn't tricky, but it did require driving 8.6 miles down Old Buckman Road. It's a dirt road with some sandy parts. We had good directions in our "Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area" book by the Northern New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club. This book is the bible for day hikes in this area. So far, I'm super impressed with this book and it's well worth the $17 we spent on it. We ended up buying it at this great little bookstore - Garcia Street Books - off Canyon Road, but they also sell it at REI.

We arrived at the parking area and were the only people there. It stayed that way for the entire hike. We followed a little path to a break in the wire fence and made our way into the arroyo.

 The moon was still out during the start of our hike. 

But the sun was definitely about to make it's presence known. 

 Not a difficult "trail" to follow. Take the same path the water takes all the way to the Rio Grande. 

You'll find some quartz along the way. 

 This is what the majority of the hike was like. 

 Looking back at the canyon. 

 I just can't get enough of these flowers!

 Emotional rock

 Started to feel like we might be trespassing on some government land or something. 

 The Rio Grande. Not quite what I was imagining. I wanted to swim. Once I saw the river, that didn't sound quite so appealing. We needed to eat lunch but between all the trash people had left (lots of broken beer bottles and cans) and the flies that wouldn't leave us alone, we ended up eating while standing up in some shade slightly back from the river. Definitely not the lunch spot I was imagining. 

We headed back the way we came. The sun was hot. The flies stuck around. However, there is something about walking through the desert that is quite meditative. I enjoyed the hike but I wouldn't say it was my favorite. Worth the trip out there to see the canyon, but I think I'd wait until fall if I had to do it again. 

Sun protection!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information! I was up that way today, but missed it with bad directions. Loving the Fall for a hike like this one. Too much heat for me even now. The Rio is running large right now, high in its' banks, looks lovely.