Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Bountiful Valley.(Outdoors & Recreation)

Byline: Scott Dunn Of the Journal

Deep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, it's getting late. The sun's last light slowly bleeds across the still surface of Shuree Ponds, and the mountain air takes on a cold, crisp edge.

Rainbow trout, big ones, make leaping stabs at insects hovering above the water's surface then splash back below, leaving concentric ripples in their wake.

On a nearby hillside, an unseen bull elk bugles, low and steady, as members of his herd tromp into the meadow below.

And high above, taking all this in, a lone turkey buzzard glides in effortless circles, not once beating his big, black wings.

This is the Valle Vidal.

Straddling the Colfax-Taos county line in the Carson National Forest, the Valle Vidal harbors one of the densest concentrations of wildlife in the state. It's home to 60 species of mammals, 33 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 15 species of fish.

Ron Thibedeau, district ranger at the Questa ranger station, recounts an early evening such as the one described above when he pitched his tent in the Valle Vidal, near Shuree Lodge, and set off on a walk. Before he had even covered a mile, he crossed the path of an elk, a wild turkey and a black bear. …

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