Day 7: From Gunnison to Taos

Friday, September 3

From Gunnison, we took CO 149 south to Powderhorn, Lake City, and on to Wagon Wheel Gap and up to Spring Creek Pass, which is the Continental Divide. All rivers west of it run to the Pacific, all those east go to the Atlantic.

Tim, Ute, Fabrizio and Axl on CO 149

Ute, Fabrizio and Axl

Fabrizio and Axl (and Mark who is almost completely hiding!)

Easy Riders on the road

Axl (right) found a new friend

Andy, Fabrizio and Axl

Axl and Fabrizio on Spring Creek Pass

Spring Creek Pass - Continental Divide

Actually, after crossing the Continental Divide, we only should have gone downhill... but it wasn't quite so. Next stop was North Clear Creek Falls - a spectacular waterfall, surrounded by flat marshland.

North Clear Creek Falls

Clear Creek crashes down more than 100 ft

down into the canyon

and into the Rio Grande

We continued Rte 149, along the Rio Grande, feeling sometimes more like cowboys - this is cowboy land! - but weren't Wyatt and Billy in the movie the cowboys of their time? US 160 and CO 159 took us to Creede, Alamosa and San Luis.

Andy's bike at the Rio Grande

Ute's bike at Rio Grande

Rio Grande

This is cowboy land

CO 159 became NM 522, and we found ourselves in New Mexico. Here's another film by Andy taken while riding through New Mexico. See Axl making obscene gestures but only after making sure Andy is just holding a camera and not a shotgun.

Fabrizio in New Mexico

Andy and Ute

Axl in Questa

Driving towards Taos

We followed NM 552 from Questa to Taos, passing Arroyo Hondo and El Padro. Arroyo Hondo was the home of the New Buffalo Commune, formed in 1966, which was the model for the commune Billy and Wyatt visited on their journey. Dennis Hopper had wanted to shoot at the actual New Buffalo Commune in Arroyo Hondo, but was turned down by the commune which didn't want the attention that the folming would bring. Visitors were already a problem for them by the time the film was shot. The commune continued to exist until the late 1980s, when the commune disbanded after they remainiing members had all converted to Islam several years ago.

We arrived in Taos in the afternoon. Taos has its own charm - there is a large artist population, and even Dennis Hopper lived here for 15 years. Also some of the shooting for the film was done around Taos (except for the commune), like some of the open road shots, the bathing scenes in the hot springs, and the interior jail shots.

Arriving in Taos

We stopped at a cafe where we met a guy who told us about the end of the New Buffalo commune, and even gave us directions to the hot springs. They still exist, though not as they were in the movie because the concrete which formed the basins eventually cracked apart. Unfortunately, the directions were so difficult to follow so that we decided not to try to get there. Instead, we went to the Taos jail - which was actually closed, and is for rent now. You can't go to jail in Taos! Probably they kicked their last inmate out because he didn't pay the rent... But instead, we could visit the former courtroom just upstairs of the jail, which was actually just as nice with its large Mexican style wall paintings.

Ours day ended with some great Mexican food, and some beers from the local brewery which took it's pride in unusual creations like Hot Pepper Beer. Unusual, they were, yes, but not very enjoyable. If this really was Dennis Hopper's favourite bar, he must have had something else.