Monday, August 5, 2013

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park

Before  leaving Alamogordo, NM we made an impromptu visit to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park.  It is located about 20 miles south of Alamogordo.  This is the view driving in towards the park.  These are the Sacramento Mountains.  One of the main features of the park is Dog Canyon and the 10-20 mile strenuous hike you can do through these desert mountains.  There is an RV area for camping and a tour of the restored Oliver Lee home.
The park has nice displays in the visitors center.  Dog Canyon has been inhabited for centuries for the water that typically runs through it.  This area has been extensively studied by archaeologists.  
The first homestead in the area was established by Francois Jean Rochas in 1885.  The remains of his 2 room stone cabin are preserved in the park.
Oliver Milton Lee, an influential rancher and later New Mexico senator, settled in the Tularosa Basin near dog canyon in 1893.  He helped bring the railroad to Alamogordo in 1898.  His restored home is shown as part of a scheduled guided tour.  Be sure to check the scheduled times before you visit the park, if this is something you'd like to see.  You can't get close enough to the house to view it otherwise.
This seashell jewelry is thought to have been made by the Jornada-Mogollon people prior to 1300 A.D., and the shells to have come from the Gulf of California. The jewelry figures are similar to the petroglyphs on the rocks at the Three Rivers Petroglyphs Site.  
We hiked a trail into the canyon that paralleled this dry river bed.  This area has been in a draught for 3 years.  The lush green plants that grow in the bottom of the local desert canyons always amaze me.  They look so refreshing for the shade they provide and in the midst of the dry desolate desert scream the presence of  life sustaining moisture!  It's easy to see why people would live in the canyons and utilize them for travel.  
Before we started our hike, we read the posted warning signs.  This sign was interesting in that we had been hearing locally of it being monsoon season!  That is an interesting concept in a desert that only gets 8 inches of rain a year (Yes, a year!) and in the 3 year draught is only getting 4 inches a year!  These flash floods occur as the rain in the mountains comes rushing down the stream beds.  Being a novice to flash floods, I was quickly convinced of their seriousness when I saw two pictures on the Internet taken just 5 minutes apart of a nearly dry riverbed and the next of the same riverbed as a raging flood.  Be aware and be safe!   
 Here is some advice regarding rattlesnakes.
Know what to do, if you meet a cougar!  Flash floods, poisonous snakes, and cougars, but I'm told no bears!  Happy hiking!  :-)