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Less Traveled & Worth the Trip -- Mora & La Cueva

 

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If you head south on Highway 434 past the Village of Angel Fire, 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 Montana 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.

 

ClevelandRollerMillnearMora-ThomasMLeRose-NMFilmOfficeLibrary.jpg (300x197 -- 21799 bytes)

Cleveland Roller Mill near Mora, photo courtesy

NM Film Office Library
 

 

CoyoteCreek-NMStateParks.jpg (188x278 -- 9178 bytes)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 New Mexico fish.


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 are popular.

 

The 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 New Mexico. 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.

 

 

La Cuerva Mill

LaCueva Mill, May, 2004, Kathy Weiser

 

 

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