A Geologic Guide to the Quebradas
Back Country Byway
The Quebradas (Spanish for “breaks,” a rugged or cliffy area) is a region of splendid scenery as well as wonderful and easily accessible geologic exposures. Although rocks representing substantial intervals of New Mexico’s geologic history are missing, rocks from some of the most eventful times in our geologic past are visible in or near this area. Many such rocks are exposed along the Quebradas Back Country Byway, in particular sedimentary rocks of Pennsylvanian, Permian, Late Cenozoic, and Quaternary age. In addition, some Triassic and Upper Cretaceous strata are present along the route covered by this route. This short guide will provide you with some of the highlights of what can be seen along the roadway at ten stops. Far more geology is available if you are interested and able to venture farther from the road. Always consider safety issues, including traffic on the roads; flash floods; the possibility of snakes, scorpions, or other hazardous animals; and the potential for unfortunate interactions with cacti. Most importantly, remember that this is a desert area. Take plenty of water with you, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and stout shoes. Use sunscreen, and take maps, a GPS unit, or other navigation gear to keep from getting lost. Also be aware that there are many private land holdings within the BLM lands in the Quebradas. Do not cross fence lines without permission and stay clear of grazing livestock. All archaeological sites are protected and should be left undisturbed. Finally, please drive slowly and carefully. The dirt roads in this area receive infrequent maintenance, and loose gravel, washboarding, and gullying, tight turns with limited visibility of oncoming traffic, unexpected potholes, and rough arroyo crossings all pose serious potential hazards.
A Geologic Guide to the Quebradas Back Country Byway (2.5 MB PDF)