The Brazos Box Canyon is a dramatic 2500-foot-deep
cliff-walled canyon three times deeper than the Rio Grande gorge near Taos, two hours to the east. Precambrian sedimentary rocks more than 1.7 billion years old form the Brazos Cliffs. This is one of the oldest rock formations in North America, and pre-dates even those in the oldest, deepest portion of the Grand Canyon.
Small cinder cones on the plateau above the Cliffs
are remnants of the volcanic lava that flowed down the Brazos Box into the Rio Chama basin to the west of Tierra Amarilla a mere 250, 000 years ago. Along the river are hexagonal basalt colums, formed by the slowly-cooling lava as it flowed through the Canyon.
El Chorro Falls
in the Brazos Cliffs next to the Lodge, is one of the world’s highest waterfalls, plunging some 1700 feet when it’s active. It’s produced by Spring runoff from the plateau behind the towering Brazos Cliffs in the month of May, and usually tapers off in early June.
Apache, Arapaho, Chaco and Navajo
cultures have left their traces in the form of tools and petroglyphs. The obsidian tools found nearby (and occasionally on Corkins land) most likely originated in Colorado and were part of a trading system between cultures around 600-1200A.D. Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde—accessible by car in about 4 hours—are the most renowned of many Native American ruins found throughout the area. The Clovis Culture of southern New Mexico is currently dated to ~13,000 years ago.
Nearby Ghost Ranch
includes a famous palaeontological site preserving Triassic dinosaurs. Fossil bones were found here as early as 1885. In 1947 the palaeontologist Edwin H. Colbert documented the discovery of over a thousand well-preserved fossilized skeletons of a small Triassic dinosaur called Coelophysis in a quarry here.