Scenic USA - New Mexico

Angel Peak

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Angel Peak - Angel Peak Scenic Area, San Juan County, New Mexico

Photo by Cecil Whitt
Wilderness Spirit Photography

     Well off the beaten track and spared from any amount of traffic due to very limited signage, the Angel Peak Scenic Area is one of those rare finds in New Mexico's landscape. Found about 30 miles south of Farmington, the 7000 foot Angel Peak creates the highlight in this marvelous badlands scene.
     One of the named features of the San Juan Basin Badlands, this section of Angel Peak National Recreation Area is a study of geology and paleontology. Angel Peak was created from multiple layers of sandstone and rests upon more accumulations of siltstone, mudstone and sandstone. Layer upon layer of sediments were deposited in this basin about 50 million years ago. Made up largely of deposits from the Laramide Highlands and eroded sediments from the Rocky Mountains, fossilized remains of mammals, fish, lizards and crocodiles lie frozen among the rock layers.
     Access to this scenic area is found by way of CR 7175, a gravel track used mostly by gas-well workers and equipment trucks. A few of the overlook sites offer a limited number of picnic tables, vault toilets and sun shelters. A small number of campsites allow Angel Peak visitors to stay for extraordinary sunrise and sunset photography. Short trails are found along the canyon rim, a perfect place to discover dramatic canyonland views and a few desert reptiles. As with any dirt and gravel roads, backcountry access may become impassable in wet weather. New Mexico, a Land of Enchantment, is also a land of extremes. Snow and cold in the winter fade to blistering summertime temperatures. Strong winds may blow through this barren badland and intense heat bakes everything in sight. But, if this photograph is any indication, braving the elements is well worth it.

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