Back at the Rio Chama with River Classroom

Fall is here at last, and that means that River Classroom has begun again! This is our 6th year of River Classroom, and so far we are working with some fantastic groups. These include the Española Public School District’s GATE students in 4th-6th grade and 7th-10th grade, the 4th-5th grades from Chama Elementary, and the 5th-6th grades from Tierra Amarilla Elementary.

A ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talks to our students about the Rio Chama.

We began honing our skills as scientists by doing some very close observation of limes. Groups of students selected a lime, recorded observations about the lime, and then had to select their lime from a pile.


We also like to begin the year by doing some initial exploration of the ecosystem that we will be studying, so we handed out waders to test the waters of the Rio Chama.

Two of the groups got up close and personal with some of the local inhabitants.


Students meeting a crayfish


The year is off to a great start, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with these amazing groups of kids. We’re going to have a great time exploring the beautiful habitats of New Mexico, and we’ll be collecting data and learning science along the way! Don’t forget to “follow” our blog to stay up-to-date on the latest.



Blog Under Construction



We apologize for the mess, but we have some exciting news!

Our NMWC blog has become so popular that we are expanding! In the near future, we’ll include more articles about wildlife rehabilitation, animals that we have here at NMWC, and what it’s like to care for education animals.

Please excuse us if things look a little unorganized for a while.

Abiquiu’s Geologic Rift: Hiking Red Wash Canyon

Last Saturday New Mexico Wildlife Center hosted our first science excursion- a geology hike near Abiquiu, New Mexico. Our guide was the fantastic Kirt Kempter, geologist and extraordinary photographer. Kirt is one of the best interpretive speakers I’ve ever met, and he does a wonderful job explaining geology.

Kirt displays one of his figures of the geology of Abiquiu
Kirt displays one of his figures of the geology of Abiquiu

We hiked up Red Wash, which opens into Cañon de Cobre, or Copper Canyon. Along the way, Kirt explained the features that we observed, including Ritito, Entrada, Todilto, and Shinarump formations and the Cañones fault, which divides the Colorado Plateau from the Rio Grande Rift.


Many people think igneous rock and volcanoes when they think of New Mexico, but the area around Abiquiu has a good deal of sedimentary rock. There are several lovely conglomerates. The Entrada Sandstone in this area is also unique with its layers of orange, cream, and yellow. Kirt pointed out that rivers have the power to deposit sediment, erode rock, or just move through a landscape. The Rio Chama has done all of these during its life, and changes in the river (and others) have greatly sculpted the landscape.

Name that conglomerate!
Colorful Entrada, with Copper Canyon in the background

Copper Canyon is massive, and we only hiked a short distance into it. Fortunately the weather was perfect for this hike- overcast, but not too hot or cold. We also had a great group of people.

Hikers take in the scenic views
Hikers take in the scenic views
Entrada Sandstone in front of Red Wash and the lava-capped Pedernal

NMWC thanks everybody who joined us on this hike, and we are deeply thankful for Kirt Kempter, not only for guiding this hike, but for donating one of his incredible photos to auction off during the hike! We’re lucky to have incredible geology in New Mexico, but we are even luckier to have scientists who spend time understanding geology and who have the patience to explain it to us!