Angel Peak: New Mexico’s Canyonlands
Crunching came from under our car. Dust swirled behind us as the golden light washed across the land. Ping.
“Another rock.” I commented. We had nearly missed the long gravel road, even though we’d precisely followed the directions. There had been little signage.
As we traveled, we saw a few bumps jutting up in the distance. We questioned whether we were even on the road to Angel Peak. All that lay around was a scrub-covered landscape. Then we reached the first pull off.
A small canyonlands lay below us, a rainbow of light purple, gold, and faded green interwoven into the rock layers.
In the distance lay the San Juan and Ute mountains, surrounding the eroding ravines and causing winds and updrafts to burn at my cheeks. The only sound above the wind was the hum of generators, as half a dozen oil wells pumped Black Gold 24/7.
There are no developed trails so trekking along the rim (cautiously as it crumbles) is your only option. If you squint and look north, you can make out the 6,988-foot Angel Peak, a chunk of double spiked sandstone popping up out of the northern San Juan Basin.
In the distance, the pointed peak standing just left of center, that’s the Angel Peak.
About seventy-five million years ago, the entire area was created by uplift. Then, five million years ago a tributary of the Colorado River (the San Juan) began carving into the rock layers.
We were by ourselves on the drive along the rim. The view wasn’t extraordinary, but the colors in early morning light sure were. If you enjoy solitude, this is your place.
- Location: 15 miles south of Bloomfield on the US 550, turn on the CR7175. The gravel road heads due north for 6-8 miles.
- There are four pull offs with pit toilets and picnic shelters.
- There is a campground at the end of the gravel road. Camping is free but you’re responsible for your own trash and water.
- The recreation area is open year-round but it gets Arctic cold in the winter and Sahara hot in the mid-summer months.
What’s your favorite wilderness escape?