New Mexico’s N Bar Ranch Photo Gallery

A look at the week we spent in the Gila National Forest.

1. The sun rises over the lush Gila ridges to start another day of adventure in the wilderness.Kevan Ray

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. After visiting the Gila National Forest, we’d argue it’s more than that. We’ve assembled a photo deck of our time at N Bar Ranch, riding in the Gila National Forest, and camping on T-Bar Ridge. We hope even an ounce of the splendor of this land shines through.

2. Cattle grazing in the field just outside of our cabin.Kevan Ray
3. Each morning brings life back to the silent landscape. Each one is just as beautiful and fascinating as the last. The smells of licorice, cattle, and pollen hang in the air.Kevan Ray
4. The cabin is a place to drop your gear, rest, and make coffee in the small kitchen before setting out in the Gila. There’s no internet to interrupt the peace and relaxation.Kevan Ray
5. The cabin is less than 800 square feet, our host, Preston Bates, didn’t know the exact square footage. Despite its tiny footprint, it offered plenty of amenities.Kevan Ray
6. We found ourselves sitting on the front porch each morning listening to the coyotes howl, the hummingbirds sip their first drop of nectar, and watching the sun expose the splendor that awaited.Kevan Ray
7. N Bar welcomes guests with open arms but visitors need to book in advance. Rolling in without calling ahead isn’t how they do things on the ranch.Kevan Ray
8. This old horse ranch still has room for modern machines. Be sure to have your factory exhaust and spark arrestor still attached. It’s located smack dab in the middle of a national forest after all.Jeff Henson
9. The Ranch has been caring for this valley since before most of us were born. Each day brings its own trials and tribulations in such a remote location. Despite the bad times throughout history, the good greatly outweighs them.Kevan Ray
10. The primitive guest village does without modern conveniences like flushing toilets, instead outhouses are still used. This is typically where the horseback riders make their stay as it’s located next to a large guest corral, and offers spacious parking for larger trailers.Kevan Ray
11. Inside the cookhouse you’ll find a miniature cowboy cafeteria, ready to feed a small army.Jeff Henson
12. Always remember to tread lightly, whether on or off the trail. Ruining the splendor with a plastic wrapper lasts generations.Jeff Henson
13. Heading out on the trail means picking a direction. It’s the most complex decision you’ll make each day. Luckily, we had a legendary guide.Kevan Ray
14. Several miles from the ranch you’ll find the local watering hole. Snow Lake to be exact. With its beautiful fields of flowers, convenient vault toilets, and boardwalk, you’re sure to soak in some time with nature.Kevan Ray
15. Fire watchtowers dot the landscape. We hit the Gila during a heavy rainfall season, keeping fire risk to a minimum. Despite their ominous presence, they offer a spectacular view when not in use.Kevan Ray
16. The closest OHV trail to the ranch is maintained by a local four-wheel-drive club. It offers slightly more technical riding and a path to the small mining town of Mogollon.Kevan Ray
17. The Polaris Ranger conquered every trail and stream we ventured past. Having an enclosed cabin, with heat and air, meant the dust was kept at bay.Kevan Ray
18. Climbing out of rocky washes, the Polaris Ranger never skipped a beat. While the suspension meant for utility might have not been up to the task of high-speed trail riding, it worked plenty well to scuttle down each path.Kevan Ray
19. A rare puddle meant the Kawasaki Brute Force could show off for the camera.Jeff Henson
20. Vast open spaces are becoming increasingly rare in our world. Seeing them is truly breathtaking. Trying to capture them through a lens doesn’t do the landscape justice. You need to see it for your own eyes to believe it.Kevan Ray
21. An impassable mudhole meant the Ranger had to wade through it. One of the only times we had to deal with water during our weeklong stay.Jeff Henson
22. On horse, it would take the cowboys five days to survey the entire outer fence line of the old grazing area. Hard to say how much faster a UTV could do it, but it would certainly be more comfortable.Kevan Ray
23. Our campsite for the night would be on top of T-Bar Ridge. This was a location our host had always wanted to camp but never could, due to having to tend to the horses that were being ridden. Since we had no animals the top of the ridge was fair game, filling a bucket-list item for each of us.Kevan Ray
24. The camaraderie of the trek brought excitement and fulfillment to the group as we settled into our campsite. This sunset would be a special one for us all.Kevan Ray
25. Watching the shadows grow long and the sun sink below the Gila ridgeline etched a memory in each of our minds. The smell of the grass, the whisper of the wind, the call of a coyote, each a single sensory stimulation plucking at our minds. It’s a far cry from big-city life.Kevan Ray
26. We made a small campfire that crackled through the night’s darkness. Preston called it Cowboy TV. We shared stories from our lives, trading laughs and stares, until the last flame signaled it was time to let the Milky Way watch over us as we laid down to rest.Kevan Ray