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A drive/walk through time awaits you just a few miles from Albuquerque: see reminders of the various folk that have lived in the Rio Puerco Valley over the years, plus the stark beauty of this prehistoric-like area. Seven virtual caches are included, 5 man-made, 2 natural, all within a few miles of each other. A camera is highly recommended!
Drive north from Albuquerque on I-25 to US-550 at the 2nd Bernallio exit. Continue northwest on US-550 through San Ysidro [caution-speed trap] 17 miles to the left San Luis/Cabazon/Torreon turnoff. [35 42.680/106 56.296]. After the turn, continue straight past the sign to Torreon, where the road becomes gravel. There are several miles between the following turns: near the imposing Cabazon Peak, bear right at the unmarked fork [35 37.939/107 06.484], then left at next fork [35 37.573/107 11.440] passing Cerro Cuate on your left after which you start descending into the Rio Puerco watershed. With the prominent Bear Mouth straight ahead on the horizon, take a left at the intersection of roads BLM 1103 & CR 279 [35 34.894/107 12.445] following CR 279 to and through cache #1, the once-thriving ghost town of Guadalupe [35 32.404/107 09.071]. After about 2.9 miles and two interesting stream crossings, the road passes between two mesas. [35 30.990/107 07.678]. Park either in the somewhat difficult left side parking spot, or a few yards further in the open field on the left. Just through the fence gap, locate and climb the footpath going up to the north mesa, where cache #2 awaits you. Afterwards, drive a further three-tenths of a mile to a bumpy turn-off to the right. [35 30.779/107 07.892] Either park here if you have a low-clearance vehicle, or drive up this approximate one-mile long road to its end. [35 30.367/107 08.941] [I made it up this road in a Dodge Minivan, but bottomed out several times]. In either case descend into Tapia canyon, climb the barbed wire fence, and hike up the main canyon which winds generally west. At 35 30.200/107 10.282 inspect the right canyon wall for cache #3. Hike further up-canyon to 35 30.133/107 10.253 where a look at high up the left wall will reveal cache #4. A few yards further at 35 30.089/107 10.267, searching the canyon rim straight ahead will bring cache #5 into view. Then continue to 35 30.013/107 10.586 where close inspection of both right and left walls will reveal cache #6. [Close viewing on the right-side cache involves a short but strenuous scramble]. An obvious cache #7, the last, is a few hundred yards further on the right. [no coordinates]. It is a natural phenomenon usually found in the state bordering New Mexico to the northwest.
What is the last cache?
Besides the usual advice about appropriate shoes, water, sunscreen, and snake warnings for the ca. 2-mile hike, a further caution: this is serious back-country and one should attempt this only with a reliable vehicle with at least a half-tank of fuel. The roads can become nearly impassable after rainy weather. This is also grazing ground and cattle herds might be encountered.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There have been recent restrictions placed on access to Tapia Cañon (or just the tower - depending on how you interpret the BLM restriction sign): the area is off-limits from Sept 15 to Oct 15; Dec 15 - 31; March 1 - 14; June 20 - 30. If in doubt, you can call the responsible BLM office at 505.761-8700 for info.
Please also note: Several cachers have encountered a local landowner in this canyon, who claims that part of the canyon is on his ranch. Being in the checkerboard area of this state, it is probably true... PLEASE don't antagonize him, he is said to be actually quite friendly if you approach him with a smile. He may hint at a "donation" to his "horse fund", (I'm told a pint of whiskey should work as well) after which he will actually guide you around the canyon and entertain you with storys of the local area. (One cacher noted that you would be lucky to meet him, and that he should be cache #8!)
You may email me to ask any questions about your cache sightings. Enjoy!
(No hints available.)