photography from the ground up

The Rio Puerco Valley

The Rio Puerco begins its journey to the Rio Grande high in the Nacimiento Mountains of northwestern New Mexico. Its course wanders through San Pedro Parks and the Santa Fe National Forest before leaving public lands near the village of Cuba. From there it follows the western edge of the Jemez Mountains past the village of San Luis, the ghost town of Cabezon, and Cabeon Peak. This first image was made along County Road 279 between San Luis and Cabezon.

The Rio Puerco is an ephemeral flow; most of the time there is no moving water in the deep arroyo that has been carved out over the ages. When there is enough water to fill the stream, it is usually a muddy brown from the sediment being carried by the “ flood”. I made this image after heavy rains transformed the channel at the place where BLM road 1114 crosses the Rio Puerco west of Cabezon Peak. It is my first attempt at HDR imaging; it may be a little over the top for some tastes, but I still like the effect.

A little farther south from this point, the Rio Puerco meanders past Cerro Cuate, and turns to the south. It is here that the river begins its journey through the Cabezon Wilderness Area. As the road begins to drop down to the edge of the wash, there is an expansive view of the valley with Cabezon on the left, and several other mesas and lesser peaks in the distance.

From here the road crosses the Rio Puerco and continues south following the course of the streambed, which, in places is more than a mile across. Several miles beyond the river crossing is the ghost town of Guadalupe, which thrived as a farming and ranching community from the early 1900’s through the 1950s, but drought and overgrazing forced the inhabitants to leave the area. Now all that remains are some dilapidated adobe ruins and some weathered corrals.

About three miles beyond the town, high on a mesa are the Guadalupe Ruins. There are about twenty rooms and three kivas at a location which commands a broad view of the valley to the north and the south. This was an outlier of the Anasazi Chacoan complex which thrived in the area from around 900–1150 CE. Like the people who inhabited the town of Guadalupe, the Chacoan people were also driven out by drought and resource depletion.

If you choose to visit this remarkable place, remember to respect the land and the people who have lived here: take only photographs, leave only footprints.

12 responses

  1. Great pictures and I especially like what you said after the last photo (also my fave of the four). Take only photos and leave only footprints. Thanks for sharing your beautiful works with WP bloggers and readers.


    March 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    • Jim

      Thank you. It’s an honor to get so much recognition for my work in such a short time. I appreciate you kind words.


      March 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm

  2. iheartyouhgb

    i love the photos… I also like to take photos, i am a newbie and i really would love to learn how to take such kind of photos… Nice job!!!


    March 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

  3. Stunning! Love your color tones as well 🙂 Thanks for sharing these pics 🙂


    March 5, 2011 at 1:24 am

  4. thaliatopete

    really nice photoshoots!


    March 5, 2011 at 7:55 am

  5. Jim

    Thanks everyone for your kind words.


    March 5, 2011 at 8:22 am

  6. Hermoso!


    March 5, 2011 at 10:50 am

    • Jim

      Gracias Alex.


      March 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

  7. Lee

    Very beautiful view.


    March 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

  8. lifeofdeb

    Your photos are wonderful. Such great texture and imagery. I would love to learn to take such photos for myself. While I like my own photos, they are not really art, which is what I would consider yours to be. Thanks for sharing both the pics and your comments about them.


    March 5, 2011 at 11:31 am

    • Jim

      Thanks Deb. I’m happy that you enjoy my work. Good luck on your photographic journey!


      March 5, 2011 at 12:02 pm

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