Seniors Learn About Trackaways

This curious senior recently came across an article on one of New Mexico’s National Monuments called Trackaways. Prehistoric Trackways National Monument is the 100th national monument in the US. The monument is located in the Robledo Mountains near Las Cruces in the southern region of the state.

It’s called that because Trackways contain footprints of numerous amphibians, reptiles, and insects (including previously unknown species), plants, and petrified wood dating back 280 million years. So I went a bit further to explore some national parks that NM has to offer.

I discovered nearly a dozen of themThese parks, Bandelier, Aztec Ruins, Salinas Pueblo, Chaco Culture, Petroglyph, Gila Cliff Dwellings and Salinas Pueblo Missions all have ancient ruins for senior citizens to explore.

White Sands Intrigues Seniors

Rather than attempt to look at each of the eleven national parks, I’ll select three to explore with you. Let’s start with White Sands. West of Alamogordo, a vast area of desert and mountain ranges 100 by 40 miles is closed to public access and used by the military for various kinds of weapons testing.

This includes the Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was detonated, in July 1945. Determined seniors may visit on two days each year, the first Saturdays of April and October, when accompanied tours are provided.

 Drive Through El Malpais

Having driven through New Mexico numerous times on our way from Iowa to Arizona, my wife and I have passed through an area that looks burned and black. Malpaís in Spanish means “bad country” and we could see huge black hunks of lava field stones all along I-40.

 Chaco Historic Park

The very remote Chaco Culture site, located in northwest New Mexico has a series of kivas. It has the largest, best preserved and architecturally advanced of all ancient Southwestern villages, equal in importance to Mesa Verde in Colorado.

Although lacking the dramatic cliff alcove setting, the ruins with many “kivas” are made more evocative by the great desolation and emptiness of the surrounding countryside. Chaco Canyon was the major center of ancestral Puebloan culture between 850 and 1250 AD, and was the hub of activity in the Four Corners area.

The people who lived in Chaco Canyon left behind a well-organized and planned complex of buildings, laid out on a north-south grid and awe-inspiring for their size and complexity.

Chaco is a shallow, ten-mile canyon. Seventy miles from the nearest town and accessible only by washboard dirt roads, it’s remote by today’s standards.

The canyon itself has been carved from ancient sea beds by centuries of erosion. Millions of years of history reveal themselves in the layers of rock and the fossils embedded therein.

It’s definitely on my travel bucket list along with perhaps fifty others. Explore NM called the “Land of Enchantment” that well describes New Mexico’s scenic beauty. It’s an awesome state and just waiting for you to come and explore.  jeb

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