New Mexico's Echo Amphitheater is a geological wonder
When traveling across this country by car, my wife likes to stop everywhere.
Anywhere there are roadside stands with homemade jam for sale, beautiful wildflowers along the road to photograph or babbling brooks to dip her toes in, Linda wants to stop and smell all the roses along the way, so to speak. I, on the other hand, prefer to get to our destination as quickly as possible and become frustrated by the frequent side trips.
But I have to admit we do discover interesting places as a result, like the one last month while vacationing in New Mexico and Colorado. We were driving on U.S. Highway 84 through northern New Mexico in Carson National Forest, heading for Durango after spending three days in Santa Fe.
Just a few minutes earlier, I had pulled over on the side of the road to let Linda photograph some of the red rocks of northern New Mexico that artist Georgia O’Keefe found so fascinating.
I was back behind the wheel and cruising toward Chama when more beautiful sandstone cliffs appeared in the distance. Linda didn't have to say a word. I knew I had to stop or she would never forgive me.
So I pulled off the highway and into Echo Amphitheater. I had never heard of it and had no idea what it was.
Located three miles west from the Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center, Echo Amphitheater is a geological wonder. It is a large concave hollow that essentially is a natural amphitheater that was carved over time by the action of water cascading over the colorful cliffs of sandstone.
It cost just $2 a car to park and take the five- to 10-minute walk down to the amphitheater, where my son enjoyed screaming at the top of his lungs and hearing his voice echo through the canyon.
Word is it is a popular hangout among locals (Abiquiu is the closest town, about 15 miles away) and I can see why. There is a campground for tent camping, a hiking trail and covered picnic tables. My son, Cade, and I explored the area while Linda photographed every cactus in sight.
While there, a busload of young campers had stopped to check out the scenery and walked to the amphitheater where they entertained us with a rendition of "Take Me Home, Country Roads." If only we had prepared a picnic basket, we could have had dinner and a show.
The area represents the southeastern-most portion of the Colorado Plateau and is home to a variety of wildlife, including whiptail lizards (New Mexico’s state reptile), peregrine falcons and mountain lions, according to signs around Echo Amphitheater.
We spent about an hour at Echo Amphitheater just enjoying the scenery and the cool weather. We would have stayed longer, but I wanted to get to Durango before dark.
It was a cool place to see (and hear) and provided a nice break from driving, but if I had been traveling alone I would have zipped past it because I am too often a man in a hurry.
From all the episodes of Andy Griffith that I have watched over the years, I should know by now that life is better when you slow down.
Drummond Flats WMA to expand
The Drummond Flats Wildlife Management Area in Garfield County will soon expand.
On Saturday, Ducks Unlimited dedicated an additional 125 acres on Drummond Flats in memory of one of its longtime volunteers, the late Charles “Skip” Hurlburt.
Drummond Flats Wildlife Management Area covers 4,653 acres in western Garfield County. It is a historic overflow basin at the confluence of Turkey Creek, Elm Creek and Salt Creek, and is predominately wetland habitat with some surrounding uplands.
In 2016, DU and Wetlands America Trust secured the final 125 acres within the Drummond Flats historic wetland basin that remained in private ownership. The purchase was made possible by the Treeman Family Foundation and funds raised at a tribute dinner in honor of Hurlburt, who was state DU chairman from 2007 to 2009.
Hurlburt, who worked in Pawhuska and lived in Tulsa, served in many local and state positions for DU and worked diligently for wildlife conservation, said Richard Godfrey III, Oklahoma Ducks Unlimited state chairman.
“The ducks never had a bigger friend,” he said.
Deadline nears for bonus youth hunts
The deadline to apply for the bonus youth antlerless deer hunts is Saturday.
Fifty-five youth hunters will be chosen by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to participate in antlerless hunts on private lands in Ellis and Love counties in October and December.
All hunters must be ages 12 to 17 at the time of their scheduled hunt and must have completed hunter education before applying. Youth can apply at wildlifedepartment.com.