Sunday, February 3, 2013

El Malpais National Conservation Area

After exploring the Sandstone Bluff Overlook in El Malpais National Monument, I headed into the BLM administered El Malpais National Conservation Area for a look around. The first stop in the NCA was probably the best known feature in the area: La Ventana, a natural sandstone arch.
La Ventana photo LaVentanaandTree_zpsb57b796e.jpg
I hiked a short trail to the arch for a better view
Eric and La Ventana photo EricandLaVentana_zps4e828162.jpg
and then drove a little further down the road to the trailhead for the Narrows Rim Trail.
Narrows Rim Trailhead photo Narrowstrailhead_zpsceba2203.jpg
The hike along the narrows rim was interesting, and being Superbowl Sunday I practically had the place to myself.

The trail started in a picnic area and immediately passed a small cave which I just had to check out.
Eric and Cave photo EricandCave_zps1ff9115b.jpg
From the cave the trail ascended to the rim and followed the rim for the rest of the way. There were lots of great views along the way down to the Malpais (Spanish for badlands) and Mount Taylor.
El Malpais Overlook photo NarrowsCliff_zps238ce21c.jpg
Dead Tree and Mt Taylor photo MTTayloranddeadtree_zps6dac8e87.jpg
The trail ended at an overlook of La Ventana.
La Ventana View photo LaVentanaOverlook_zps053ed942.jpg
I spent a few minute relaxing there and then started to retrace my steps back to the trailhead.

Once back at the car, I decided I would see if I could find a place called the Dittert Site. The Dittert Site is a Chacoan outlier built somewhere between AD 1000 and 1300. It lies within the Cebolla Wilderness.
Cebolla Wilderness Boundary photo CebollaWilderness_zpsdf3bdcb0.jpg
I did not have specific directions to the site, but I did have a site bulletin about it that I had picked up at the visitor center. The site bulletin showed the approximate location of the site in relation to some sandstone cliffs. I set out on an old road to see if I could find the site.

I never did find the actual Dittert Site, but still it was a worthwhile hike into the wilderness. I found a "mushroom" rock
Mushroom Rock photo MushroomRock_zps747dfa2e.jpg
and 3 other archaeological sites other than the actual Dittert Site. The Dittert Site is just one of over 60 archaeological sites in Armijo Canyon. The sites were all interesting with lots of pottery scattered about on the ground.

White Pottery photo whitepottery_zpsf5abd690.jpg
Assorted Pottery photo potteryonground_zps569a1f78.jpg
Ruins photo ruinsmounds_zps0bf8a5a2.jpg

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