La Vista Verde trailhead is located a short distance uphill from Taos Junction Bridge, on State Rd. 567, in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument (see map at end). The mainly level trail travels the length of a bench set in the western slope of the Rio Grande Gorge, for a distance of a little over a mile one-way. The bench is a substantial chunk of the former gorge rim that has slid downward but remained intact as it did so, and is called a landslide block. At the end of the trail is an overlook that gives one a view of a number of rapids that are contained in the Rio Grande’s Taos Box run. A herd of bighorn sheep make this area their year-round home, and are very tolerant of the close approach of hikers.
Bighorn sheep graze just off to the side of State Rd. 567. Below them is the bench that La Vista Verde Trail follows, and beyond is the Rio Grande (top).
Bighorn ewe and lamb
From the first overlook, a highly sculpted boulder, very low water (150 cfs)
Apache plume and basalt boulder
This pond was a dry flat before a flash flood created a new channel that directed run-off to it
A wet year on the above-mentioned flat
Sagebrush and chamisa
Blazing star and the Rio Grande (low water)
Two varieties of Claret cup cactus
Wafer ash (Ptelea trifoliata)
Apache plume, sagebrush and yucca
Seen from the overlook. Contained within tilted landslide material is a channel fill. This is sediment that accumulated in a stream channel, later to be covered over by a lava flow. The heat of the molten lava baked the sediment to this reddish color.
Following photos are from the overlook.
Upstream view of the Taos Box run on the Rio Grande. In lower center is a toreva block, which is an intact piece of the gorge rim that detached and slid downwards, and became rotated back as it did so (clock-wise in this view). Three lava flows can be distinguished, one from the other, in this block. A bench is seen to continue upstream, which is again the result of landslides that moved considerable material downhill, while keeping that material more or less intact.
Same as above. Toreva blocks on the the slope across the river (left) are mirror images of this block (being rotated counter clock-wise).
A very congested section of the Boulderfield set of rapids is seen at very low water, downstream view
Upstream view, very low water
View further upstream than the above, of Boat Reamer Rapid, very low water
Upstream wide-angle view – Boat Reamer Rapid to the upper part of the Boulderfield, high water
Downstream view of the upper and middle sections of the Boulderfield rapids, high water