Dark Canyon in Winter

Part 1, Orientation and the Rock Shelter

If you go south from Carlsbad, New Mexico, on the National Parks Highway (US180/US62), you may pass a nondescript intersection at the southern extemity of the city.  That will be Dark Canyon Road.

The road winds through a usually dry canyon (that can turn into a raging torrent during heavy thunderstorms as happened on 12 September 2013).  The road through Dark Canyon can be taken to get to Sitting Bull Falls, the town of Queen (no services), or the Dog Canyon entry into the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

But today we are just going to pull off the road at the first side-canyon where it is really safe to do so, on the left as we are heading west, and we will just walk into this side canyon on a dirt road for the simple pleasure of walking.

The stream bed (dry) supports some bushy and grassy vegetation:

But once away from this drainage-way, vegetation is mostly grass and mesquite and very dry this time of year (Winter is the dry season in the Chihuahuan desert):

Around the first turn there is a small rock shelter (thanks for the no-shooting sign!):

Someone had brought some kindling into this shelter for a fire:

The view out is nice:

But not nice enough to linger here, so on we go.  Arounf the next bend we see a sign saying that disturbing the ground here is not allowed, this is part of the watershed that gives Carlsbbad it s water supply.  Really?  How sad.

We continue our walk and come to an area blocked by a gate (open) with no-trespassing warning signs, one of which hints at the purpose of the warnings: protecting a water source! "STAY AWAY FROM WATER" the first line shouts!

What water?  That line of trees in the background of the photo above hints at the presence of the precious liquid.  We will NOT disturb the water, we will just take a look:

Yup!  There is water near and under that stand of trees, indeed!

Enough water to warrant calling it an oasis and giving it a second page!

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