Travel File: Mills Canyon, NM

After camping on the prairie in the Rita Blanca Grasslands (see previous post here), we decided to head west to Mills Canyon in New Mexico for night 2 of our trip.  Take a look at the map (I pointed out Santa Fe in case that helps you get your bearings):

MAP 2jpg Just a few hours from the previous nights’ stay, and I must say, quite a lovely drive…(Desolate drive, so fill up the gas tank in Clayton!)


Mills Canyon IntroAnd then I saw the National Park entrance:

Kiowa National GrasslandsOK….I still was not totally convinced, but then we drove to the crest of the road and I was in awe of the crack in the earth that held the small hand of the Canadian River before us:

Orchard Valley

I discovered that the canyon was an oasis for late 19th century entrepeneur Melvin Mills, who turned the canyon into an orchard that grew 14,000 apple, peach, pear, cherry, walnut, plum, almond and chestnut trees.  He lived there until a flood in 1904 decimated the hundreds of acres of orchards he planted, along with his home and hotel.  The ruins of his properties lay scattered along the canyon floor still to this day.

orchard sign

House 1


Mills Canyon Collage

exploringAs we wound down the hillside, trees and outcroppings of boulders lined the way…

pondWe found a lovely (once again–completely quiet) campsite…

campsitejpg…with a breathtaking view of the surrounding canyon…

campsite 2

canyon walls

An easy walk from our site to the river behind us:

Canadian River BW

Canadian RiverI won’t lie:  It was hot (after all, it was the middle of July).  But even though this river was kinda, well, muddy…it was still a nice spot to cool off at the end of the day.  And let me tell you:  The stars, the stars, the stars!  No light pollution here, people.  There are 3 reasons to visit Mills Canyonthe history, the stars, and the walls of red rocks.  Make sure to add it to your list of “cool places to check out in New Mexico”.


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