A moonlit stroll to Anasazi Arch

Maggie Wegrzyn


If you've never taken a moonlit hike -- and until earlier this week, I belonged to that group -- I highly recommend it.

Molly Maxwell, one of our lovely outdoors reporters, and I embarked on an adventure under Wednesday night's full moon to the Anasazi Arch off County Road 2300 just south of the New Mexico-Colorado state line. Tucked off a dirt road pockmarked with oil rigs and gas well compressor sites is Cox Canyon. And there, a short scramble or two up a mesa, is the arch.


Headlights affixed, we made it to the arch via the scenic (also known as the longer) route. While I certainly suggest using a headlamp on the trickier parts of the trail, on a clear night, the moon serves as a pretty good nightlight. Once your eyes adjust to the darkness, it's smooth sailing, especially once you reach the top of the mesa.

As I took in the view of the arch underneath the starry sky, I thought how wild it is that wind, time and erosion are responsible for shaping that formation. Crazy, right?

Molly captured awesome long-exposure photos of the arch. And then I ruined the dignity of the moment by using my headlamp to spell out words.


I can only imagine how ridiculous the two of us looked out there.  Me, trampling shrubbery as I spelled out words -- often backwards -- in the dark, and Molly behind the camera, counting, "One, Mississippi, two Mississippi," to keep me on track for the 30-second exposure. The entire scenario was ridiculous. And a blast.

We had a conversation on the drive to the arch that's stayed with me. San Juan County has so many unique features -- mesas, hoodoos, arches, arroyos -- and many people, especially those who have lived in the Four Corners for a while, don't pay much attention to them. They're as much a part of the landscape as those rigs and compressors.

Maybe it takes seeing things in a different light -- or a lack of light -- to remind us of the beauty of this area.