Have You Ever Been to Nambé Falls?

“You’ll get your feet wet if you go on the lower trail,” someone volunteered.

We were in heavy traffic north of Santa Fe about to take the high road to Taos. The traffic disappeared once we turned east at Pojoaque Pueblo. MaryAnn was driving and I settled back and gazed out the window. It was going to be a peaceful afternoon. We passed a sign for Nambé Falls. MaryAnn looked at me and asked, “Ever been to Nambé Falls?”

“Why no,” I answered somewhat sheepishly, “No I haven’t.”

“Neither have I!” She announced gleefully and yanked that car around and we were suddenly heading up the road to Nambé Falls.

The road went through Nambé Pueblo and came to a turn-off for the falls. There was a $15 charge per car. We paid and went down the road. Eventually we came into an open area with adobe shelters spread out around it. A few visitors were standing by a stream.  We walked over. They said there were two trails. One climbed up to an overlook at some distance from the waterfall, the other followed the stream to the base of the falls.

“You’ll get your feet wet if you go on the lower trail,” someone volunteered.

“Thanks,” I said. That sounded like a rock-hopping good time, so we started up the lower trail. It was lovely and shady. The stream quietly gurgled. We came to a group preparing for a wedding. Chairs were set up in a tight grassy area near the water, but we stepped through the aisle, excused ourselves and continued up the trail.

Within 50 feet, we had gingerly stepped off the last piece of solid ground and found ourselves wading in the water between large stone slabs that formed walls on either side. The current wasn’t that deep or swift and we were able to negotiate our way upstream okay wearing sandals. But the bottom of the stream was rocky. We met a woman coming downstream, one hand steadying herself against the rock walls and the other holding aloft a pair of leather shoes. It looked difficult.

After maybe a couple hundred feet of walking upstream we came to the pond where Nambé Falls rushes out of a slot from high above the canyon. The water, which is discharged from Nambé Lake, roared. Right where I was standing the pond was about knee deep. What a fun time!

Regrettably, we didn’t get to the overlook.  Our shoes and socks were too soaked for hiking.

Jon Knudsen is a freelance writer and retired educator. Email him at  johnny_mango@yahoo.com.

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