Over the weekend of July 16-18, Andrea and I drove down to Los Alamos, NM to visit my dad. It was a nice relaxing weekend. The highlight of the trip was an elk watching tour in the Valles Caldera National Preserve on Saturday night. During the four hour tour, we saw most of the 89,000 acre preserve and saw upwards of 1,000 elk.
The Preserve contains a number of breathtaking views and has been a source of curiosity for us for a number of years. The Valles Caldera was under private ownership as the Baca Ranch since the late 1600's, so we have only been able to drive on NM-4 along the edge as long as I've been alive. The Federal Government is operating the Preserve as an experiment in land management and has opened it up to limited tours. It is definitely worth the time if you're in the area.
On the way home we also stopped at a couple of the wonderful wineries in the Rio Grande Gorge between Taos and Española. The Gorge has been slowly developing a reputation as a world-class wine region. My favorite wineries are La Chiripada and Black Mesa Winery. Check them out if you get a chance.