The Forest Is Closed
The cost of admission may be going up
After driving nine hours to Taos, New Mexico, I was shocked to see a sign reading, "THE FOREST IS CLOSED," ...
After driving nine hours to Taos, New Mexico, I was shocked to see a sign reading, "THE FOREST IS CLOSED," hanging over a band of pink tape blocking a trail. Thinking it was a joke or a temporary closure of a single trail, I kept driving up the Taos Ski Valley to run up Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico.
More pink tape blocked streamside pullouts, and I saw the dreaded "CLOSED" signs at other trailheads. At the Wheeler Peak trailhead, my worst fear was confirmed. "FOREST ACCESS PROHIBITED...National Forest CLOSED To All Use ... No camping, no hiking, no biking, no horseback riding, no Jeeping, no ATVs, no motorcycles, no running ... Extreme Fire Danger."
Just then, it started to rain.
As I checked into a room for the night, I asked the clerk where I could go for a run. She suggested I could run on the road past the end of their fence for about a half-mile, or back down the road to the town for an almost three-mile loop. I just smiled. She said state parks and everything in the Carson National Forest, including the ski area, was off limits. A $5000 fine could be imposed on trespassers. She said government had run out of money fighting the fires in Los Alamos, and land was closed to all users. Then she offered to sell me a $5 ticket to go run a mountain on private property across the road. I smiled more.