Top 5 Must-See Fall Locations in Red River NM
If you’ve ever been to Red River during the fall season, then I don’t have to spend much time telling you how absolutely, stunningly beautiful it is. The aspens changing from their bright summer verdancy, the crisp air, and the wildlife activity all lend themselves to a different “feel.” For those of you who have yet to experience this high altitude attitude adjustment, you should consider making the trip this fall! In this blog, I’ll talk about my top five favorite places to see during fall in Red River New Mexico.
Here’s a teaser view of what you can expect in early October ;)
5: The Butterfly
I searched through my camera briefly, and couldn't find a picture of my own that would represent the Butterly in all it’s resplendent glory. A quick google search found this beautiful piece of art (link below the photo) that should give you an idea of what to look for — yes it actually looks like this.
Where — On your way into Red River on 38 from Eagle Nest, pay special attention to the mountains on your left as you get within about 2–3 miles of Red River.
4: Drive the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway
This 85-mile mountain drive is a great day trip that will take you through several towns, each with a unique culture, splendid views of the state’s tallest mountain (Wheeler Peak), a Vietnam memorial, great restaurants, and wildlife areas. Leaving from Red River, we recommend going toward Eagle Nest, and arriving in Taos for lunch. If you ask some locals, a great culinary treat will surely present itself! Loads of art, and culture can be seen in/around the Taos square area.
Here’s a great link with more info on the Circle:
Explore New Mexico's Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway through valleys, mesa, mountains, and national forest.enchantedcircle.org
3: East Fork Trail
East Fork Trail (walking only! Easy) lies to the south of town on 578. For this trail as well as #2, and #1 we recommend stopping in at one of the numerous stores in town and purchasing a trail map. This trail is several miles long, but offers a convenient turn-around after only one mile at a river crossing. This trail is a constant ascent but at a low grade. You’ll pass between numerous Aspens and Pines. Don’t forget what John Muir said — “between every two pines lies a doorway to a new world.” We encourage you to go explore that world.
2: Columbine Trail (walking only! Moderate)
This trail is a little bit more difficult than the first mile of East Fork, but if you’re up for it, the views can be extremely rewarding! Depending on how far you want to hike, this trail can actually take you to the top of Gold Hill, where you can look down into Goose Lake! We recommend you explore at least the first couple miles of this trail, and say a quick “thank you” to all the Forest Service members & volunteers who put in so much work to build and maintain these backcountry trails!
1: Goose Lake
If you have an off-road capable vehicle (rentals available in town, links below), you can drive to a beautiful high-altitude lake that sits in a bowl of ancient rock. Often, you’ll see wildlife including deer, numerous species of birds, and the occasional bighorn sheep! I recommend packing an lunch, and leaving early in the morning — around 8–9am. The road is very rough, and travel will be slow. Also, sometimes afternoon storms can pop up quickly at this altitude, so prepare accordingly. Plan lunch at the top, and beware the very smart birds & chipmunks! They know exactly how to share your lunch!
Side note 1: If you’re going to drive this off-road trail we recommend starting at Fourth of July Canyon trail! Go up the long steep-ish hill until you get to a flat area. On your left you will see a two trails- either will take you where you want to go, but if it’s a view you’re hunting, go left. Continue on this trail with view of Wheeler Peak, the Upper Valley, and the Town of Red River until you come to another open flat area. When you exit the trees into this area, you’re at the top of Old Red River Pass. To your left will be a larger dirt road — take it. This switchback laden road takes you down down down to the blacktop where you’ll turn right (follow the law here! New laws in effect in this area!) and proceed a short drive to the Goose Lake trailhead on the left. This will add another 2 hours to your one-way trip time if you drive slowly and enjoy. Well worth it, and the aspen views will be INCREDIBLE.
Side note 2: If you’re capable, make the climb above Goose Lake to Gold Hill. Spectacular views to be had!
If you’d like to rent a Jeep or ATV/UTV, here is a great link provided by RedRiver.org with a list of local rental businesses!
THANK YOU for taking the time to read my blog. I hope that my thoughts help you in your exploration of beautiful Red River NM!
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