Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mills Canyon

Our plan was to return to Eagle Nest and the cooler weather, but we couldn’t resist a stop at Mills Canyon on the way.  According to the Allstays app, there are two free national forest campgrounds – one on the rim and one just for tents in the canyon along the Canadian River.  On Google Earth, both appeared to have large sites, but, believing the app, we stayed on the rim.

The next morning we drove the truck down into the canyon and discovered the reason for the ‘tents only’ designation.  It was bad enough that the road was dirt and potholed, but it was one lane with poor visibility and few places where two vehicles could pass.  It was really nerve-wracking, but we made it all the way down without meeting another car.  Whew!

When we could take our eyes off the road, the scenery was lovely.  Below we could see the remains of Mills Canyon Enterprise.  Established in 1881, thousands of trees produced tons of peaches, pears, cherries, plums, apricots, apples, walnuts, chestnuts, and almonds. 
Unfortunately, in the fall of 1904, the fields suffered massive flooding and the trees never recovered.

Here’s a sign about the enterprising Mr. Mills.  It seems he led quite a colorful life, but died penniless in the end.  How sad.

The remains of some of his ranch are available for exploration. 

I was surprised until I read the sign explaining that they had been 'stabilized.'

On the way back up, I took this out the window.  Although narrow, this was far from the worst part of the road.  We were thankful to have high clearance and 4-wheel drive.  Ron just knew that would come in handy someday.

We spoke to a ranger who said money was in the budget for road improvements, but we’ll believe it when we see it.

Ron has been doing some flintknapping – the art of making stone tools, using historical methods.  Here he is flaking a piece of obsidian using a deer antler.

He’s getting pretty good at making arrowheads.


  1. Very interesting. A 4WD is a must on those roads. I bet flint knapping is very relaxing and those shards are so sharp I can see why Ron wears the heavy gloves.