Put on your helmet and gloves, get on your road bike and head into the Carson National Forest—one of the most scenic places in the Southwest. As you pedal up Highway 150 towards Taos Ski Valley, you’ll have a chance to learn about nature and forest restoration.
Since 2014, The Nature Conservancy-led Rio Grande Water Fund has worked to ensure a healthy forest, clean drinking water, and outdoor recreation opportunities. With more than 108,000 acres already treated through the Water Fund's efforts, we invite you to see the results and visit demonstration sites at the popular Lower Hondo, Cuchillo and Twining Campgrounds.
This self-guided tour is accessible by bicycle or car. Download a map to start your tour.
What You'll See Along The Way
Lower Hondo Campground
Learn about the history of fire in the valley.
At your first stop along Highway 150, learn how tree rings reveal the history of forest fires—nature's way of cleaning out overgrown brush and trees. You will see ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir trees that have learned to live with periodic, low-intensity fire, and the wildlife that lives within the forest.
Find out how 100 years of fire suppression in the valley has resulted in overgrowth that can lead to more dangerous, faster fires, and what the Rio Grande Water Fund is doing to restore the forest's natural patterns.
Visit the Rio Hondo.
Water is life in New Mexico, and nowhere is that truer than along mountain streams. Learn how snow fall in the high mountain peaks and forests melts in the spring to feed the Rio Hondo, a tributary of the Rio Grande.
At this site, you'll develop a deeper understanding about the river, the wildlife that depends on it, and the importance of the health of the forest in the headwaters of the Rio Hondo.
Understand how wildfire changes the forest.
Welcome to your final stop! At this elevation, fire historically burned hot and intensely, creating a patchwork of forests at different stages of regrowth.
Aspen are among the first trees to return to burned areas. Their growth is important to overall forest health because aspen break up dense evergreen trees that are highly flammable. Thinning at Twining Campground in 2017 removed young firs, reducing the risk of a severe fire around homes in the Taos Ski Valley and making more room for aspen trees.
Look for marks from elk and deer nipping aspen leaves and buds.
Partnership for Nature
The Taos Valley Watershed Coalition is working to restore the Rio Hondo and other forest areas that supply water to people in the Taos Valley and the Rio Grande basin. The Coalition’s goals are to reduce overgrown trees and brush that act as fuel for fires and to restore natural fire when and where it is safe to do so. Some of the partners include: Carson National Forest, The Nature Conservancy, Taos County, Taos Pueblo, Town of Taos, Taos Soil and Water Conservation District, Taos Ski Valley Inc., Trout Unlimited, Village of Taos Ski Valley, FireWise communities and others.
The Taos Valley is one focal area for the Rio Grande Water Fund: a public-private partnership with more than 60 agencies, organizations and businesses participants. The Water Fund goal is to restore 600,000 acres of at-risk forests over 20 years to secure critical water sources for over 1 million people from Taos to Albuquerque and beyond.