The Archuleta Trail follows Archuleta Creek into the upper reaches of the drainage. Aside from the trail and the grazing of cattle, few signs of human use can be seen in this valley. The visitor may experience relative solitude traveling through the forests of aspen, spruce, and fir. The forests are broken occasionally by dry mountain meadows, which are filled with the blooms of corn husk lilies in midsummer.
Wildflowers with driftwood
This wide circular valley is bounded on the west by the colorfully banded peaks of the Continental Divide. The peaks are composed of uplifted Precambrian (370 million years old) rock topped by younger layers of volcanic basalts. As the trail winds over the forested slopes north of Archuleta Creek, the ravines of the innumerable tributary streams beckon the hiker to step off the trail and explore the unknown backcountry.
As in Chama Basin as a whole, wildlife abounds in the Archuleta drainage. Elk may be seen grazing in the meadows during early morning and evening and the lucky hiker may chance upon a coyote hunting for meadow mice at dusk. Many other birds and mammals may be seen in the valley. Fishing on little known Archuleta Creek is undoubtedly an experience that will be long remembered.
The Archuleta Trail is bounded by private property for the first mile and visitors are asked to respect property boundaries.
The Archuleta Creek Trail provides an ideal day trip for those camping on the Chama River but can also be the beginning of a backpacking trip within Chama Basin. By following Road #124 east from its junction with the Archuleta Trail #741 and continue north into upper Chama Basin, or descend to the Chama River Camping Area, to complete a 12 mile circular trip. The Archuleta Trail gives access to the western portion of Chama Basin, one of the most scenic and wild places on the Conejos Peak Ranger District. The trail follows Archuleta Creek, climbing steadily but gradually from the Chama River valley. Despite the easy grade and access, the trail is infrequently used and is ideal for those seeking the solitude of a wilderness excursion. Several days could be spent exploring the Archuleta Creek Valley.
Adequate parking is available at the camping area. From here the Chama River must be forded. This can sometimes be difficult because of the spring runoff. Water is available from Archuleta Creek or from its numerous tributary streams.
Directions from Chama, New Mexico: Approximately 7.0 miles north on Highway 17, take the Chama River Road to the north. This road passes through 6 miles of private property before reaching the Rio Grande National Forest boundary. At the forest boundary, is the Chama River Camping Area. Take the left fork of the road down to the river and camping area. The Archuleta Trailhead is located on the west side of the Chama River, opposite the camping area.
May through September .