Saturday, February 5, 2011

Animas River near Aztec Ruins

The Aztec Ruins in Aztec, New Mexico is referred to as “the place by flowing waters.” At nearby Riverside Park, there is a 1.5 mile loop trail that provides good views of the flowing Animas River. In the future, this trail may be extended to the Aztec Ruins site. The Riverside Park is a short distance south of the junction of Highways 516 and 574, about 0.5 miles west of the Historic District of Aztec.

The trail segment along the north river bank is paved and there is a wood chip return segment along an irrigation ditch. The east end of the paved segment ends near the Highway 516 bridges that cross the river. At the east end, there is also a local conservation project with some wetlands and some vegetation restoration efforts.
I saw a Bald Eagle perched in one of the tall cottonwoods along the south side of the river, in easy sight from the paved trail. Not many Bald Eagles nest in the Four Corners area, but they are often seen in winter months near the rivers and reservoirs. The river section below the eagle perch was busy with Mallard ducks and Canada geese.
The west end of the trail passes by an Animas River access point with a map of the Animas and San Juan River system. Near the west end there is also a pedestrian bridge connecting to more parkland on the south side of the river.
From the pedestrian bridge it is about 0.5 miles east along city streets to the Historic Aztec District. At Aztec Ruins I picked up a walking guide booklet that maps out the historic buildings and sites, mostly houses from the early 1900s. Many of the historic buildings are along Main Street with early houses and churches along Church Street.

Another attraction of the Historic District is the Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village. In early February 2011, the museum was closed for renovation but some of the many artifacts are visible through the fence, including old machinery and even some entire small buildings. I visited the Animas River and Aztec area on a 35 F degree sunny early February day. Snow was cleared from the trails and walking was easy.


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