22-Dec-2000 -- Perhaps the reason that this confluence had not yet been documented
is that few people travel the lonely stretch of US highway 285 between Antonito,
Colorado and Espanola, New Mexico. Fortunately, my travels between my home
in Colorado's ski country and my parent's home in southwestern New Mexico take
me within a few hundred feet of this confluence, and finding the exact spot with
my wife seemed like a nice break on the trip. Completing this confluence also
creates a line of ten successful consecutive confluence visits along the 106th
meridian, the longest string on any meridian in the Degree Confluence Project
The adventure started with snowy skies at our home at 5:00am, which turned
clear as we moved farther from home and closer to the confluence. Fifteen miles
from the Confluence Point, we met one of the locals -- a highway patrol officer
who pulled us over for a crack in the windshield. After a warning, he let us go.
6.19 miles from the point we pulled over to look at Colorado's oldest church
located in the town of Conejos. From there it was a short drive to photograph
some narrow gage train cars 4.84 miles from the Confluence Point. Now it was
time for the serious business of finding the confluence.
Finding the confluence is as easy as simply pulling off the shoulder of the
highway just north of the signs marking the state line, and following the arrows
on the GPS to a location just west of the highway. Except for a snow fence
and some barbed wire, No trees, large rocks, or other obstacles blocked us
from getting to the confluence, or getting good readings. Since no one lives
within miles, there was no need to worry about disturbing neighbors or trespassing
(this is probably BLM or ranch land). We were able to find the confluence in
about 10 minutes. It is easily visible from the road.
This barren confluence of low sage brush and volcanic rock rests in the scenic
southern portion of the gently sloping San Luis Valley just north of the
Colorado/New Mexico state line. Aspen and spruce cover the huge rounded mass
of Mount San Antonio just to the southwest, which dominates the scenery. To
the west, low hills block most of the San Juan Mountains from view except for a
few peaks. Distant trees and buildings mark the town of Antonito to the north.
The Sangre De Cristo Mountains span the entire eastern horizon from north to
south ranging from Pancha Pass, Colorado to Taos, New Mexico - a distance of
well over 100 miles. The Rio Grande River Gorge travels the middle of the valley
between us and the distant mountains with some smaller volcanic mountains
dotting the middle of the valley near the state line. Pronghorn antelope, deer,
and elk visit this area and are frequently seen.
The town of Antonito is known to railroad buffs as the eastern end of the
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.
Here narrow-gage steam locomotives carry tourists through unexpected lush
forests, meadows, canyons, and over a mountain pass to Chama, New Mexico
during the summer months. The route lies to the north and west of the confluence
and is not visible from this spot. You can see the historic engines, rolling stock,
water tower and depot at Antonito. If tracking down confluences is not your
family's idea of fun, perhaps you can lure them to this location with the promise
of a train ride.
Accessibility = 1 (easiest)
Terrain = 1 (easiest)
Scenery = B+ (pretty but not breath-taking by Colorado standards