Less Traveled & Worth the Trip --
& La Cueva
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you head south on Highway 434 past the Village of
you will see little Coyote Creek meandering through the Black Lake Valley, This area, originally settled by the homestead act of 1861, was once home
to a thriving farm community which had a general store, a church and a
school. Some of those buildings remain.
Black Lake itself lies on the UU Bar Ranch at the foot of Dancing Cat
Mountain. It was the setting for the
scenes in the movie "Lonesome Dove."
Just after passing the remains of the old village, Highway 434 takes a
sharp right, where there are several pull offs beside the road, which will
allow you to take in the scenery.
Cleveland Roller Mill near Mora, photo
NM Film Office Library
Only 37 miles from Black Lake is the small
village of Mora, but the drive is slow as the narrow paved road twists
beside Coyote Creek. Coyote Creek State Park is a few miles
before the small village of Guadalupita for which the narrow canyon is
named. The state-run park lies in a broad area of the valley
through which Coyote Creek flows. The beautiful park has both
picnic and camping facilities, including electrical hookups for
trailers. At the south end of the park, the roaring creek is
slowed into quiet ponds by beaver dams, which are great for fishing.
On the second Sunday in August, the park is host to an annual fiesta,
which features music, food vendors, an auction and a talent show.
South of Coyote Creek State Park the
canyon continues to open into the broad Mora Valley, where sheep and
cattle graze peacefully. The picturesque village of Guadalupita with
its bright yellow adobe church sits at the foot of the Rincon
Mountains to the west.
Below Guadalupita and two miles above Mora is the Mora National Fish
Hatchery and Technology Center. One of only six fish technology centers in
the nation, it does DNA tracking and research on several endangered
The drive from Black Lake to Mora drops almost 3,000 feet in altitude and
the scenery changes dramatically.
The Donde Viven Alpaca Victory Ranch lies on the west of the highway on
1,100 acres of the beautiful Mora Valley. The Victory Ranch has one of the
largest herds of Alpacas in the United States. The ranch features a
visitor center and a gift shop, which are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
daily with tours given at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The shop features
fine Alpaca products and artwork created by Mora Valley artisans. Visitors can pet the soft alpacas and spinning and weaving demonstrations
Town of Mora lies at the junction of State 434 and 518 where the Cleveland
Roller Mill, which is now a museum, features Mora County history and
culture. The old mill was the last flourmill to be built in
It ground 50 barrels of flour a day from 1901 to 1947.
Just six miles south (left) on N.M. 518 is the La Cueva National Historic
Site and the Salman Ranch famous for its raspberries. La Cueva has a
wonderful restored church and old mill, and the Salmon Ranch gift shop and
café are housed in restored buildings of the ancient town. La Cueva is
definitely worth the side trip, especially during raspberry season from
mid August to October.
The road rises coming out of the western end of Mora Valley and tops out
near Sipapu Ski Area, whose base is 8,200 feet above sea level. It offers
20 holes of disc golf, as well as horseback riding, lodging, art shops and
300 miles of dirt bike trails.
LaCueva Mill, May, 2004, Kathy Weiser
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