Rio Grande del Norte: A Monument to Protect


If you’ve been around our blog for a bit you will notice that our specialty is sharing National Park Service sites with our family, and in turn with yours. We spend many days and nights each year submersed in the National Park Service system. This includes National Monuments, Bureau of Land Management sites, refuges, National Historical Sites, National Lakeshores, and more.

Rio Grande del Norte

Check out the #MonumentsForAll project on social media!

In addition to the twelve National Parks we visited for the 2016 NPS Centennial celebration, we also stopped at six non-park locations: Jewel Cave N.M., Agate Fossil Beds N.M., White Sands N.M., Sleeping Bear Dunes N.L., Scott’s Bluff N.M., and Rio Grande del Norte N.M.

Rio Grande del Norte sign

A rather hidden BLM sign – we almost missed it!

Of these sites, the one we wished we had more time to spend at would be Rio Grande del Norte. We encountered this National Monument by chance, as it lay along our route from Great Sand Dunes NP&P to Carlsbad Caverns N.P. Had we known that this monument was going to be under review, we definitely would have designated a whole day to explore it.

As we drove through the western portion of Rio Grande del Norte, we saw wide expanses of sagebrush plains that stretch between the Rio San Antonio Gorge to the west and the Rio Grande Gorge to the east. There are many ancient volcanic cones dotting the landscape that break up the Taos Plateau and provide a beautiful backdrop for photography.

Elk on the Taos Plateau

photo credit: BLM/Flickr

Protection is Imperative

Within both of these canyons lie petroglyphs and artifacts that date back thousands of years. They represent many different early tribes that passed through these areas. Wildlife such as Rocky Mountain elk, bald eagles, owls, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep can be seeing dotting the plateau. On our trip through we spotted several large hawks, pronghorn, and loggerhead shrikes. We also found out after doing more research on this monument that the Rio Grande Gorge is a major waterfowl migration route that should be protected for the hundreds of species that rely on the water and its abundant ecosystem for survival.

photo credit: BLM/Flickr

Worthy of a Stop

This national monument is on our short “must return soon” list, and it should be a stop for anyone passing through northern New Mexico. You won’t find cell phone service for hundreds of miles

photo credit: BLM/Flickr

along Highway 285. We were just fine with that, as it gave us more time to spot wildlife, talk about the extinct volcanoes, and enjoy the warm, sunny day we had there.


Perhaps one of the most significant reasons we feel this monument should be protected, is that it sits along the Rio Grande Rift. Fracking and other mining activity have the potential for making this rift more active.

There is no other explanation that we feel is more thorough and on point about protecting this national monument than the declaration by former President Obama, whose proclamation can be seen here:

Bighorn sheep

photo credit: BLM/Flickr

We invite you to go and explore this vast and diverse landscape. See for yourself the importance of protecting the geology, archaeology, and habitat of this monument. Have you been to Rio Grande del Norte? Tell us in the comments about your favorite moments there, so others can look forward to visiting! And be sure to check out what our fellow outdoor bloggers are saying about some of their favorite monuments today as well:

Five Reasons to Love National Monuments
A Monumental Fight
Pro Tips: Tommy Caldwell Talks Public Lands
In the Heart of the Creek
Dear Mr President
A Monumental Day of Blogging
A Monumental Day
Hands Off Our National Monuments
Celebrating National Monuments For All of Us
Why You Should Be Championing #MonumentsForAll
What is a National Monument & Why Should You Care?
Speak Out For Our National Monuments Under Review
Dear Secretary Zinke
National Monuments, Public Lands & Wilderness
Public Comment on the National Monument Review
Taos Plateau

photo credit: BLM/Flickr

6 thoughts on “Rio Grande del Norte: A Monument to Protect

  1. Pingback: Celebrating National Monuments For All of Us - Val in Real Life

  2. Pingback: A 'Monumental' Day of Blogging - Just Get Out More!

  3. Pingback: Why you should be championing #MonumentsForAll - Inner Compass Blog

  4. Nicole Atkins

    Great post! I’ve never been to Rio Grande del Norte, but I don’t live *too* far and now would like to give a visit. I love the pictures as well. This is a great addition to the campaign, thank you! 🙂

  5. Joniamac

    Thank you for not only sharing information about Rio Grande del Norte but, your experience as well. The photos are beautiful and I hope to visit in the near future.


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