Desert Spring Horseback Ride in New Mexico- Photo Journey

Trail rider Caroline McCoy shares the beauty of riding through New Mexico's deserts in the spring and discovers a waterfall along the way.

photos and story by Caroline Ames McCoy

Spring winds can make us feel like our minds, skin, hair and souls are being desiccated. In search of water, a friend and I drove past Carrizo Lake by the Inn of the Mt. Gods outside of Ruidoso and were astonished by its beautiful green-turquoise color. We kept going.

carizzo lake nm

The bottom of a narrow canyon to the southeast of Highway 70 sparkled with rivulets of running water. We were hauling horses. We stopped. Kiowa, Deborah Voorhees' Paint horse, drinks with surprise. The entire canyon seemed wet, cool on the feet, easy going.

horseback stream nm

As we moved on further and further to the east, the canyon floor became carpets of flat rock, rising in tiers, each one a little higher than the last with small falls cascading over.

horse drinking from steam nm

Most of them were easy for the horses to jump up but at this one, Cody and Peach, said...."Ummm, do we jump this one, or is there a better route?"

horseback new mexico stream

The canyon was a virtual desert ecosystem with many variety of cacti and hawks nests of branches balanced on small rock ledges which blackened thieves were visiting. I suspect the ravens were stealing eggs. Tiny birds with loud screams warned of our encroachment.

eco garden cacti new mexico

Each new tier of the canyon surrounded us with high rock walls that looked like modern watercolor paintings, or sculptures.

rock walls like paintings

Only a short hour from the beginning of our ride we heard a clattering sound. There it was. A twenty foot waterfall! Deborah is wide-eyed at the discovery.

new mexico waterfalls horseback ride

Of course we photograph each other. The horses had never seen anything like this before and were a little nervous with water splattering at their feet. We were surrounded by cool damp air and droplets of water. 

horseback riding to waterfalls new mexico

 This is me and Peach at the bottom of the falls.

peach waterfall new mexico horseback

Looking up at the ledge almost twenty-feet above us, we wondered where does this water come from? Is this like the Grand Canyon above the falls.....flat desert and then suddenly the big drop? We hunted and hunted for a way up to the top. We got penned by a box canyon.

new mexico box canyon

We tried game trails which were too steep, tried the other side of the canyon, horses lunging to the top–– quite a climb. At the top of the hills where we had managed to climb, we could see nothing other than more canyons, more hills... but, we are still curious. Back home in Nogal, I was happy to see the wind had not blown off all the peach blossoms.

peach blossoms spring nm

Desert spring is amazing. Can't wait for the ocotillo to start blooming. Hope you enjoyed this fascinating canyon as much as we did.

About the Author: Caroline McCoy rides the White Mountain Wilderness and the Fort Stanton Trail system almost every week of the year on her Quarter Horse mare, Peach. McCoy is age 74 and Peach is 14. McCoy hopes to ride her partner 'til the end of both of their lives. McCoy makes a photo-journal of many of her rides and is about to publish a book of these rides. Anyone wishing to be on her "My Rides" email list may request to do so via email.