Chama Canyon


On Wednesday, May 30th we turned off the pavement and headed up Chama canyon along the Rio Chama on forest service road 151. The first few miles were a rough go, it was filled with loose stones and little climbs that just wore us down. Eventually, the road improved and we were sailing up and down little rises slowly getting closer to the river. All along the road the forest service has dispersed camping areas so finding a place to camp was no problem. There is an actual free campground called Rio Chama and its located at mile marker 12. At about mile marker 5 is a spot called Big Eddy, a pull out for rafters and kayakers. Here we watched rafts being pulled out of the river and met Scott who graciously gave us some ice water. Thanks Scott!

Near Ghost Ranch

Roadside formations

North from Abiquiu

Heading into Chama Canyon

Rio Chama

Forest road 151 late in the day

Chama Canyon at sundown

On Thursday, May 31st we got up around 8 am and continued the last couple of miles to the end of the road where the Christ of Desert Monastery lies. The chief architect was  George Nakashima and its a very spiritual place in a beautiful setting. After a walk through the meditation garden and a look at the gift shop we turned around and headed back out the 13 miles to the highway. We decided on a short day thanks to the heat and rode just a few more miles to camp at Echo Amphitheater campground.

Road to the monastery

Christ of the Desert Monastery


Rope to ring the bell

Hanging bell

Bryan riding back out the canyon

On Friday, June 1st we woke up super early in order to beat the heat and began a 9 mile climb. An occasional Elk bounded across the road in front of us. Early climbing in cool temperatures made for a great morning and we had pleasant weather all the way to Chama, NM.

Sunrise in Echo Amphitheater

Chama peak in the distance

Horses near Tierra Amarillo

Once we arrived in Chama, the home of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway we found a grocery store, thrift store and free wifi at the visitor center.  There were poppies and lilacs everywhere, super green grass and trees-just lovely.

Lilacs in Bloom

Poppies in Chama

While riding down the main street we heard a shout from a fellow sitting at a bookstore asking us where we were headed. His name was Louisiana Lee and he was a northbound Continental Divide hiker. We chatted for awhile. Lee was sleeping in a boxcar on the edge of town waiting for maps to arrive for the Colorado section of his hike. He showed a us a video of himself killing a rattle snake with a stick that has a knife on the end of it and then skinning, cooking and eating it. Hardcore for sure. We said our good byes and found a nice quiet area to camp just north of town.

#488 warming up

Chama station

From our campsite in Chama

Next up Colorado!



3 Responses to “Chama Canyon”

  1. 1 Leo

    No pics of Louisiana Lee?? Sounds like a interesting character for sure. Love reading the blogs. Keep livin’ the dream guys!!!

  2. 2 Kate Cross

    Beautiful scenery! I’ve never been to NM. Never killed,skinned and eaten snake either! Safe travels and love to you both.

  3. 3 Geographic Designer

    Great shots! New Mexico rocks! Actually, I just finished designing a poster for New Mexico. Check it out:

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