Wild Rivers Trip June 2014

June 21, 2014

Landscape evolution of theTaos Plateau in the Southern San Luis Basin


Trip leader: USGS geologist Cal Ruleman

An often overlooked part of the San Luis Valley is its southern half in New Mexico, also known as the Taos Plateau.   The fascinating landscape in this area is a result of active faults associated with the Rio Grande Rift, geologically recent volcanic activity, and canyon carving.  The area was recently designated as the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, in part to showcase the area’s impressive landscape.  The United States Geological Survey and New Mexico Bureau of Geology have studied this area for the past several years to better understand the geological processes that combined to create the southern part of San Luis Valley, and also how it relates to the geology of the northern part of the valley in Colorado.

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, the Colorado Field Institute will sponsor a field trip to explore the southern San Luis Valley and Taos Plateau.  It will be led by USGS geologist Cal Ruleman, who will explain the current understanding of how rifting, volcanism, and river incision created the landscape that is seen today.  He will also explain how the formation of the Taos Plateau created a lake called Ancient Lake Alamosa that once filled the northern part of the San Luis Basin, and whether the draining of this ancient lake somehow carved the Rio Grande Gorge.  Come on the field trip and learn about the landscape evolution of this fascinating area.


The field trip begins at 9:30 AM in Costilla, New Mexico, which is south of the town of San Luis in Colorado. The field trip will include several roadside stops on the way to Wild Rivers Recreational Area, near Questa, New Mexico.   At Wild Rivers there will be an optional hike to the bottom of the Rio Grande Gorge in the afternoon.  The hike involves an 800 foot elevation change on a very steep and sometimes rocky trail that is classified as “difficult” by the BLM.  Be sure to bring your lunch, and if you plan on doing the optional hike have appropriate hiking gear and water.


The cost for the trip is $10 for CFI members, $5 for students, and $20 for non-members.  Advance registration is required. The entrance fee into the Wild Rivers Recreation area is an additional $3/vehicle.   Additional details will be provided upon registration.   If have questions about the trip, please contact Andrew Valdez by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at either 719-378-6362 or 719-588-0633, or Vern Elliott at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Click: Register for this CFI trip at SignMeUp


► Everyone is welcome on this CFI field trip but current 2014 CFI members will receive a member discount on this and future field trips. Your membership dues also help support our great winter lecture series.

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