Like any body of water in an arid climate it is a magnate for life, both human and animal. There are two campgrounds at the lake and fishing is allowed, no swimming. We chose to park at the Upper End campground and hike around the lake, adding in a couple of side hikes to our loop.
The lake is set among small hills covered with Ponderosa Pine and oak and is the home or stopover for many birds. During our few hours in the area we saw Osprey, Ruddy Ducks (in summer colors!), Northern Pintails, and our first Painted Redstart, among others.
|Lake Roberts looking North East|
|Lake Roberts looking North West|
Once we reached the boat ramp we headed off trail and crossed Hwy 35 heading for the Purgatory Chasm trail. Here, we immediately ran in to this little group munching away on the hillside:
But the best was yet to come. Hidden away in the hills, invisible from the road, is a sandstone slot canyon. The trail unceremoniously dumped us right into a convergence of carved sandstone gashes:
|Here, two separate slots start from seemingly nowhere and meet in dramatic fashion |
out of the grass and tree covered hillside,
We headed downstream among towering sandstone walls. There were hairpin turns and side canyons joining the main streambed for about half a mile.
Abruptly the slot canyon ended, opening right back into the forest and becoming a "normal" streambed once again.
|The slot canyon ends and becomes forest once again.|
|Looking back up canyon.|
We made our way back across the highway to Lake Roberts and continued the lake loop. Once we arrived back at Upper End campground, we headed up a canyon at the East end of the campground. On our morning stop at the Mimbres ranger station we had learned of some pictographs at this site. Had the ranger not told us about them, we never would have known. Only a small sign at the head of the canyon gave us any indication that there was anything of significance here.
In a location known as Spirit Canyon, these pictographs are thought to depict Apache Mountain Spirits. They are found less than half a mile up the canyon.
On our way back to the truck we spotted several turkeys running through the campground.
On the way out we stopped to talk to the camphost and learned that in the year he has been hosting here, he's seen a group of about one hundred turkeys in camp! They'd be scarce next week though, when hunting season would begin.
The Lake Roberts and upper Mimbres Valley area is truly lovely and it's easy to see why a few people have settled here. We saw signs for several other National Forest trails nearby and were awed by the beautiful rock cliffs surrounding the valley. This area is on the list for further exploration in the future when we'll stay in this neck of the woods.