Trip to a New Mexico Dude Ranch

Earlier this spring, I traveled with Amy, her parents, her brother, and her sister + family to New Mexico to spend a week at a dude ranch. We stayed at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch in Winston, NM. Well, technically it was in Winston, but in reality it’s about 50 miles away.

The ranch is one of the few privately-owned tracts of land in the Gila National Forest. We were truly in the middle of nowhere; cell phones stopped working 2 hours before we arrived. It was glorious to be completely off the grid!

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The whole crew, from left to right: Megan on Smoky, Clark on Rooster, Cam on Strawberry Shortcake, Hannah on Lightning, Karl on Blue, Mady on Casper, Holly on Buck, Linda on Lips, Dirk on Casey, and Amy on Comanche.

As it turns out, there is a pecking order between horses, and my Smoky was the sensitive soul in the bunch. Once we figured out he wanted to be as close to the front of the pack as he could, and only wanted horses that live in his paddock behind him, we were good.

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Me, in front of the pack, on Smoky.

We rode for 5 days; 2 days were full-day trips (ride 2 hours out, lunch and hike for 2 hours, ride 2 hours back) and the other days were ride for 2-2.5 hours, back for lunch, then ride for another 2-2.5 hours. Since we were the only people at the ranch, we got to pretty much determine what we wanted to do and when. Fortunately, Meris, the head wrangler, had lots of great places to take us.

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View of the Gila National Forest between the ears of Sunny, Meris’s horse.

We rode up onto ridges, down into canyons, through streams, through cattle grazing pastures, and everywhere in between.

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Across a field used for cattle grazing.
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Crossing the creek one of 30+ times in Taylor Creek Canyon.

The national forest is simply gorgeous. We saw eagles, heard canyon wrens, saw elk (and found a baby elk skeleton), were surprised by small lizards, and generally enjoyed the natural beauty of the Gila National Forest in mid-April.I can only imagine what it looks like when the rains come and everything turns green!

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Those are some cool mountains off the in distance. I didn’t really pay attention because my horse was getting ticked off at Amy’s horse and there may have been a small kerfuffle so I had to go to the other side of the top of the ridge so Smoky would settle down.
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Crossing Upper Taylor Creek

There were many ancient Mimbres pit houses and cliff dwellings in the area which we got to see, complete with petroglyphs and pottery shards. (We took only photos, left not even footprints…)

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Petroglyph in a Mimbres cliff dwelling
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Petroglyph in a Mimbres cliff dwelling
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Shard of Mimbres pottery on the ground near a pithouse site

The modern Pueblo are some of the descendants of the Mimbres people. This issue of Archaeology Southwest magazine offers a lot more information about the Mimbres people.

This juvenile eagle was the largest predator we saw because despite our best efforts, we didn’t see any mountain lions.  We did spend a lot of time saying, “Here kitty kitty kiiiiitttyyyyy….”

 

 

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Juvenile bald eagle, looking for lunch in Wall Lake

One thought to “Trip to a New Mexico Dude Ranch”

  1. That is awesome. I can’t wait to show the girls. Hopefully with school done we will have some extra time to sit together and look at this more closely.

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