Arriving at the The Falls
One thing you learn quickly on arriving is that the local ranger expects the $ 5 fee per car to be paid (free for seniors like myself, if you buy a one-time pass to all federal park sites).
When you arrive, you see copious greenery all around, thanks to a nicely designed picnic area with good visitor facilities (you can even reach the falls via wheelchair!).
At the parking area you face a wall of tufa (not to be confused with volcanic tuff!) which is laid down as water bearing calcium carbonate evaporates:
You can't help but notice that there have been big chunks of tufa that broke of the tufa wall in front of the parking lot and rolled down. The local ranger offered that these large rocks broke off during extremely cold winters during the 1930s and 1940s, and that repeated freeze-thaw during those years (water expands as it freezes) caused there to be numerous breakaways including these large pieces:
Note the copious vegetation in this shaded, protected area that sees an occasional influx of water from falls now dry but occasionally reactivated to some degree after high rainfall periods.
It is time to start on our way to the falls, enough of this looking around to understand what we see. We want to see falls! So now we are on the path and are almost diverted by a sign offering a route to the top. Be patient, that comes later.
So we follow the trail around a bend and get some most-welcome shade!
When we look left we see the south wall of this side-canyon we have entered:
Now we have to make a choice: do we look at the cute little squirrel looking at us, or do we look up and finally see the falls? Of course we can do both in rapid succession, but not at the same time:
Go to PART THREE: The Falls
Go to PART FOUR: Lower Riparian Area
Go to PART FIVE: To the top and beyond
Go to PART SIX: Upper riparian area (springs!)
Go to PART SEVEN: Coming back for more: the grotto and pool
Go to PART EIGHT: Trail 68 Adventures
Go to PART NINE: Trail 214 adventures
Go to PART TEN: Queen, NM, and the Guadalupes
Go to PART ELEVEN: The top of Trail 68 near Queen
Go Back to PART ONE: Location and Background
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