“Hike from the highway through intriguing rock formations to a wonderful view, then around the back way to the highway.”
— Frank Trotter
Most of this route is through rock formations reminiscent of the first Raiders of the Lost Arc. The trail winds through the formation until one encounters a sloped dune. At the top of the dune is a view across a valley to multi-colored formations and mountains.
This hike can be done by almost anyone in modest to decent shape.
Starting at the parking place head south. The sandy riverbed is surrounded by erosion-formations of spires and carved micro-canyons. About a mile in, the passage tightens a bit and progress is made over slick rock.
Scoot under some balanced boulders and after a bit the dark reddish sandy slope appears. The top of the slope (about 2.4 miles from the road) drops away vertically to display an excellent view of the valley to the south.
Drop back down the sandy slope, staying on the south edge, and join a trail leading down to the riverbed that was seen below the view. Turn left down the dry riverbed and follow this until one reencounters the road - another 2.8 miles along.
Once you reach the road, you can hike along it until you get back to the starting point.
History & Background
The area, called El Paso, was formed when a major earthquake split the mountain to the west and created a dam of the Rio de las Conchas. Over time, a large lake built up and the sediment solidified into rock. After the water broke through and washed away most of the dam, the rock formations remained.