Up Next in Our Weekly Instagram Takeover is New Mexico!

Explore your public lands in New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas this week and discover what we’re all about. Follow @mypubliclands on Instagram to get the most out of social media by experiencing your public lands in the Land of Enchantment!

Pictured here is the 3rd place winner of BLM New Mexico’s employee photo contest, showing the beautiful colors of fall at the Lemon Lime Cottonwoods at sunset. Stay tuned for more!


BLM New Mexico – with offices in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas – recently announced the winners of their annual employee photo contest. A few of our favorites are featured here; click photos for employee names and titles.

Visit the BLM New Mexico Flickr to view all contest winners.


Thanks for following the #mypubliclandsroadtrip in BLM New Mexico!

View the BLM New Mexico roadtrip journal-storymap here:

Next week, the roadtrip stops in BLM Montana/ Dakotas for badlands, national monuments, ringing rocks, ghost towns, and more.


New Mexico Milkweed Project Helps Pollinators 

In response to the Federal pollinator strategy and the crisis in Monarch butterfly populations, the BLM New Mexico State Office and Taos Field Office recently collaborated with the National Park Service’s Southwest Exotic Plant Management Team (SWEPMT) to grow more than 10,000 milkweeds for pollinator habitat restoration projects across New Mexico. 

The effort began in 2015 via a cooperative agreement between the National Park Service (NPS) and Santa Ana Pueblo native plants nursery to start growing plants at their facility. The species include Antelope horns (Asclepias asperula), broadleaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia), and showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa). The seeds came from sites across northern New Mexico and eastern Arizona via the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in 2011. The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Los Lunas Plant Materials Center grew three species from 2013-2015, and the three native species provided to the NPS were grown at a seed lot in 2015. 

Keep reading


Organ Mountains featured by the Los Angeles Times: “Walk in the footsteps of Billy the Kid and Apollo astronauts at this national monument in New Mexico”

Michael Mello of the Los Angeles Times shared, “As you drive through this crossroads of the Southwest, it’s difficult not to notice the sawtooth-ridged mountains bracketing the city to the east. Known as the Organ Mountains, these rhyolite and andesite peaks emboss New Mexico’s southern basin and range area. The mountains love to show off in the evening, reflecting the orange hues of the setting sun.” Read the full article HERE.

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was established on May 21, 2014, by Presidential Proclamation, and is a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands. The National Monument - a total of 496,330 acres - includes four distinct areas with a wide variety of recreation opportunities: the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains, and Doña Ana Mountains.

The Organ Mountains range from 4,600 to just over 9,000 feet, and are so named because of the steep, needle-like spires that resemble the pipes of an organ. Alligator juniper, gray oak, mountain mahogany and sotol are the dominant plant species here, but in the upper elevations stands of ponderosa pine may be found. Seasonal springs and streams occur in canyon bottoms, with a few perennial springs that support riparian habitats. Wildlife includes desert mule deer, mountain lion, a variety of song birds, and a race of the Colorado chipmunk. 

George McJunkin was a remarkable man whose discovery re-wrote the books on early man in North America.  His intellectual curiosity and determination continue to inspire a new generation of archaeologists.  

George McJunkin was born a slave near Midway, Texas in 1851.  George was freed at the age of 14 after the Civil War ended.  Although he was fluent in Spanish, experienced with horses, and used to helping his father in his blacksmith shop, he never had the opportunity to learn to read.  He left home to join a cattle drive, ended up in northeastern New Mexico, and never returned to Texas.  Along the way he stopped to help a man dig a well.  He earned a handful of quarters, the first money he had ever been paid for his work.  He used it to buy the first footwear he had ever worn– a used pair of cowboy boots.  

His skills increased with each new job he took on, and eventually word got around that he was one of the best horse breakers and cowboys in New Mexico.  He traded lessons in breaking horses for lessons in reading, and soon began reading anything he could get his hands on.  He had always been curious about the natural world around him, and was particularly interested in science.

George McJunkin was the foreman of the Crowfoot Ranch when the great flood of 1908 hit Folsom.  At least 15 people were killed in the flood, including the telephone operator, who died at her switchboard trying to warn people of the flood.  After the flood, George was out riding, assessing the damage and saw something eroding out some 13 feet below the ground surface.  He recognized them as bison bones, but they were much larger than modern bison, and were partially mineralized.  George realized that the find was significant and tried to get an expert to look at his discovery, but it did not happen until after his death in 1922.  Eventually scientists did study the Folsom Site, and it rocked the scientific world.  Previously it had been thought that no humans inhabited North America much before the birth of Christ, and this discovery made scientific history, establishing a human presence some 7,000 years earlier.

In 1926, archaeologists studied the site, and the first scientific article was published in 1927 in the Natural History Magazine.  Eventually George was given credit for his find.  His hunger for knowledge and his persistence eventually earned George McJunkin a place in history, but he didn’t live to see it.

For those who would like to learn more, The Life and Legend of George McJunkin by Franklin Folsom is an inspiring book geared to older children or young teens, but it is an enjoyable read for adults too.

Story by Brenda Wilkinson, Archaeologist. Photos by Historic Photo, Photo courtesy Georgia and Bill Lockridge, former owners of the Crowfoot Ranch.


The results are in!

BLM New Mexico recently announced the winners of its 7th annual employee photo contest. Today, we bring you a few of our favorites from the seven photo categories: landscape, wildlife - mammals, wildlife - non-mammals, plants, historical and cultural, work of the BLM, and recreation.

Congratulations to the winners!  CLICK HERE to view all employee photos.


#mypubliclandsroadtrip Camping Picks – Views for You and Your Horse!

The Fort Stanton National Conservation Area sits within the eastern foothills of the Sierra Blanca Mountains of south-central New Mexico. With rolling hills, mesas, perennial streams and the renowned Snowy River sub-surface caves, the area has endless opportunities for recreation and overnight camping.

Rob Jaggers Campground within the conservation area consists of a large parking area, vault toilet, and facilities for staging horseback riding. There are eight RV hookups with electricity and potable water, and other potable water outlets. Groups and individuals may camp in the parking lot and grounds along a loop road immediately east of the parking lot. To make group shelter reservations, please contact the camp host at 575-322-0030.

Virtually explore the Parks Ranch Cave in New Mexico with #mypubliclandsroadtrip!

In Carlsbad, New Mexico, the Chosa Draw Area of Critical Environmental Concern contains 2,200 acres of hydrologically-important gypsum karst. Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral that can be used as a fertilizer and in many forms of plaster and blackboard chalk.  

The area has been determined to have one of the densest concentrations of karst features, including Parks Ranch Cave.  The cave, at 4.3 miles in length, is the second longest gypsum cave in the Western hemisphere.  

Close by to world-famous Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Parks Ranch Cave is a good spot for beginning cavers to explore. 

Explore this cave virtually through the following video by BLM New Mexico!


Follow #mypubliclandsroadtrip Stops This Week in BLM New Mexico and Nearby States!

BLM in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas care for 13.5 million acres of public lands, from breathtaking prairies and lush riparian areas to open woodlands and desert peaks – the iconic landscapes of the American West. Join #mypubliclandsroadtrip all week to explore outstanding national monuments and wilderness areas, visit unique historic and prehistoric sites, enjoy a diversity of recreation sites and more!  

Follow posts here on Tumblr all week; see daily recaps of posts on the BLM New Mexico journal:


A big thank you to the many volunteers who built fences, planted trees, cleaned up trash and more during the 23rd annual National Public Lands Day yesterday! Now get outdoors and explore #yourlands, like the beautiful Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument near Las Cruces, New Mexico. The monument offers stunning views, great hikes and picnic areas for a day trip with family and friends.   

New photos by Sherman Hogue, BLM New Mexico.


Located a short distance to the southeast from Dixon, New Mexico, sits the Embudo Box Trail. This very unassuming location offers a great get away from hustle and bustle. Once parked at the trailhead off state road 69, it’s just a short half a mile hike to a beautiful canyon that craters the Embudo Creek. Along the way, you might have the opportunity to see mule deer, ground squirrel, and various birds making their way through the Piñon, Juniper, and other trees and bushes that fill the lush canyon.

There are numerous areas to ease into the creek and cool off from the hot summer sun on the #mypubliclandsroadtrip stop. Just use caution and think smart when adventuring into moving water. Take water, and don’t forget your camera – you’re going to want it!

Photos by Sherman Hogue, BLM


The Continental Divide Wilderness Study Area in New Mexico offers amazing hiking, backpacking, camping, photography and solitude. The landmark of the area – the Pelona Mountain – rises to 9,212 feet. Rolling grassland gives way to steeper slopes covered in piñon pine woodland and ponderosa pine forest, although the summit of the mountain itself is mostly grassland. Climb the Pelona Mountain for views that stretch out for miles across the surrounding plains, or take a walk along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail that passes through this stunning wilderness. A worthy addition to your roadtrip list, especially for the #sunset!

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM.


The Gila Lower Box Canyon Wilderness Study Area is a true oasis in the desert in southwest New Mexico. A lush thicket of cottonwood, willows, and other riparian vegetation line the banks of the river. Wildflowers abound in wet years and include vibrant  fields of orange poppies that peak in March and April depending on the year.

The area provides some of the best birding in New Mexico.  Home to approximately 200 species, it has one of the highest bird diversities in the state.  The area provides habitat to many rare and unusual birds including Bell’s vireo, peregrine, bald eagle (in winter), golden eagle, black hawk, zone-tail hawk, Grey hawk, yellow-billed cuckoo, Gila wood pecker, and Abert’s towhee.

The river provides opportunities for canoeing or rafting during years of high spring runoff, but flows are normally better suited to tubing and to shore-based activities such as fishing.

Photos by Mike Howard, BLM New Mexico


#mypubliclandsroadtrip enjoys the rugged beauty and solitude of Cabezon Peak Wilderness Study Area in New Mexico.

Cabezon Peak’s dramatic volcanic formation is one of the most well-known landmarks in northwest New Mexico.  With an elevation of 7,785 feet, the Peak is part of the Mount Taylor volcanic field, and is the largest of 50 volcanic necks rising from the Rio Puerco Valley.  Desert shrublands dominated by cholla cactus give way to piñon and juniper on the flanks of the peak.  The symmetrical peak forms cliffs on all sides, and the surrounding landscape gently falls away from the base of the cliffs.  The name “Cabezon” is derived from the Spanish noun “cabeza,” meaning “head,” and “Cabezon” translates as “big head.” The peak is believed to have religious significance for the Pueblo and Navajo Indians, and remnants of their visits still exist.

View more #mypubliclandsroadtrip Places That Rock in our @esri storymap:


Celebrate National #TakeAHikeDay by Exploring Your Public Lands!

Visitors enjoy countless types of outdoor adventure – not just hiking – on the approximately 250 million acres of BLM-managed public lands in the United States.

In an increasingly urbanized West, these recreational opportunities in beautiful natural landscapes are vital to the quality of life enjoyed by residents of western states, as well as national and international visitors.

Photos by BLMer Bob Wick.


#TravelTuesday with Guest Photographer Bob Wick to New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte National Monument!

The Río Grande del Norte National Monument offers a large canvas of wide-open sage covered plains dotted by volcanic cones, and cut by steep canyons. The Río Grande itself carves an 800 foot deep gorge through layers of volcanic basalt flows and ash. The Rio Grande was one of the first eight river segments protected in the U. S. as a Wild and Scenic River and is a popular fishing and whitewater boating destination.

The Monument is an important area for wintering animals, and provides a corridor by which wildlife move between the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. Herds of wintering elk can often be seen on the plains in the northern part of the monument offering great photo opportunities.

Photo tip: If you come upon wildlife while in your vehicle, keep a reasonable distance and stay inside and roll down your windows to capture photographs. Animals are typically not startled by the presence of the vehicle, but will become agitated and run as soon as you exit on foot – not good for the photographer or the wildlife.

The Wild Rivers Recreation Area northwest of Taos is a great place to get a taste of the monument. Several campgrounds and numerous trails (including several into the canyon depths) offer numerous photo angles.  The dark skies of this remote area offer optimum star viewing and night photography opportunities.

Photo tip: Nighttime opens up a whole new world of photography opportunities. Long exposure star trails, moonlit landscapes, and the countless stars of the Milky Way are a few things one can capture.  A tripod is a must to photograph at night, and most images will require some additional processing in a digital darkroom program. There is a bit of a learning curve to capture successful night images. There are many on-line tutorials and photography books that provide great instructional techniques.

Check out our @esri Rio Grande del Norte multimedia storymap for more stunning photos, helpful links and a map of the area: 


It doesn’t get much better than colorful skies over the rugged mountains of New Mexico.  

The White Mesa Trail system offers amazing scenery and an array of challenging single track for intermediate to advanced riders.  The photo from the top of the mesa looks towards Albuquerque and Sandia Peak in the background. After a group of thunderstorms rolled through the area last night, the almost full moon broke through the pink clouds just after sunset.

The hoodoo shot from Ojito Wilderness is an easy ¾ mile hike from the trailhead along Cabezon Road.  The trail is marked with cairns and ascends a gradual grade to two areas of hoodoos backed by colorful mesas and twisted ponderosa pines.

Both areas are located about 45 minutes from Albuquerque and offer outstanding recreation opportunities close to town.

New photos by BLMer Bob Wick.


Camp along the Rio Grande with #mypubliclandsroadtrip!

The Wild Rivers Recreation Area is located within the Río Grande Del Norte National Monument and along the Río Grande Wild and Scenic River and Red River Wild and Scenic River.  Here, experience the beauty of an 800-foot deep canyon sliced into volcanic flows by the Río Grande (Spanish for Great River) and Red River where they come together. 

Located in the high plains of northern New Mexico, this area is rich with history, rugged beauty, and enticing recreational opportunities.  A back country byway, visitor center, campgrounds, picnic facilities, and trails are available for visitors. Several spectacular overlooks are found here, including La Junta Point, one of the most dramatic views in the state, overlooking the confluence of the Red River and the Río Grande – and it is wheelchair accessible.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM.