Closed Canyon Hike
We spent the day hiking on the south side of the park. There are so many hikes to take here, but we did just the ones that are off FM 170 on the south side of the park near the Rio Grande. There are even more off a graded road which extends into the north side of the park.
Our first, and most interesting hike (1.5 miles), was into the Closed Canyon. The hike runs through a deep canyon cut by runoff from the Boficillos Mountains. The canyon is about 100 feet deep and at places just 6 feet wide. The walk is mostly across gravel and smooth stone with occasional sharp drops (pour offs) that we had make our way down. Even though the walls are sheer and little sun reaches into the canyon, there are some flowers and cacti growing on small shelves on the canyon sides.
From there we drove east to the East Contrabando Trail. The contrabando trails are remnants of trails that were cut through the wilderness in the 1800s and early 1900s. Mexicans have long smuggled candalilla wax into the US to avoid high export taxes levied by their own country. During prohibition, Mexicans made alcoholic beverages and brought them in to the US in kegs on horseback. Today this hike took us through a desert with lots of dog cholla and creosote (2.2 miles). We saw one other person, on a bicycle.
At the West Contrabando trail we hiked (1.2 miles) through creosote and prickly pear cactus. What was interesting here were the eroded hills in the distance. It is amazing how varied the geology is here. Red hills, yellow hills, white hills.
In between the two Contabando trails was the Contrabando movie site. There we found a small “town” that has, according to the sign, been used for the movie set for 8 or 9 movies — none of which I really remember.