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Carson National Forest Critical Notice

Carson National Forest Discourages Unnecessary Exposure, Overcrowding during COVID-19 Outbreak

TAOS, NM– April 4, 2020 – In alignment with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure the health and safety of its employees, visitors, and volunteers, the Carson National Forest is asking the public to avoid unnecessary exposure at popular recreation sites like the El Nogal Trailhead on US Highway 64, which accesses several trails in proximity to Taos. Despite a closure order and locked gate, large numbers of people have been parking on the highway and congregating in the immediate area, creating unsafe travelling conditions.  In an effort to discourage these actions, the Carson National Forest is posting additional signage and placing an electronic message board on US Highway 64 near El Nogal. In order to comply with New Mexico public health orders and still accommodate visitors, the Carson National Forest encourages people to use alternative access points that better meet social distancing and group-size guidelines. Taos Canyon  

  • La Vinateria is an unmarked parking area located 0.4 miles east of El Nogal on the southside of the highway.  Limited safe parking that helps facilitate social distancing is available.  Access to South Boundary Trail is possible here by following the trail that leads downstream.  
  • Cortado Canyon, a large pullout located on the north side of US Highway 64, located 2.3 miles east of El Nogal/Devisadero Trailhead, and 350 yards east of Las Petacas Campground.  Rugged hiking opportunities without maintained trails are available in this canyon.  
  • Forest System Road 10 (a.k.a Shadow Mountain Road), located 3.8 miles east of El Nogal Trailhead, provides access to the North Boundary Trail and Capulin Trail.
  • Mondragon Canyon Trailhead located 3 miles east of Forest Service Road 10 (6.8 miles east of El Nogal).  Pullout on north side of highway, trail is located on south side of highway, requires crossing Rio Fernando.
  • Forest System Road 437 pullout, on the Valle Escondido Road. Head east on US Highway 64 from El Nogal for 10 miles.  Turn to the right of the Valle Escondido Road for about 0.4 miles to the junction with Forest System Road 437.  There is a kiosk and flat place to park.  A short distance from the parking area, Forest System Road 437 is closed to motorized traffic until May 1.

 NM Highway 518 ·       South end of Forest System Road 437 in Talpa.  The road is gated but it can be walked and leads you along Rio Chiquito.·       Various Forest Service gates and pullouts between Talpa and U.S. Hill, such as Tierra Azul/Bear Wallow, Forest System Roads 438, 439, 476, 114, and 442.·       Flechado Day use on NM 518, 0.5 mile east of Sipapu on the south side of the highway next to Rio Pueblo.·       Agua Piedra Day Use, on NM 518, 1.8 miles east of Flechado Day Use.·       Forest System Road 76. The road is gated but it can be walked and leads you through La Junta Canyon.·       Various primitive trailheads on both sides of NM 518 from the rock wall near the junction of Hwy 75 and 518 towards Holman Hill. Be safe and plan ahead to reduce unnecessary risk. Visitors to National Forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html. ###USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Erin Fryer 
Interdisciplinary Team Leader
Forest ServiceHelena – Lewis and Clark National Forestp: 406-495-3863 
c: 406-740-7005 
415 South Front Street
Townsend, MT 59644