Spotlight on Farmington New Mexico
Indian Country Today
It lies at the junction of three important highways (550, 64, and 371), three rivers (the San Juan, Animas, and La Plata), and serves as the hub of the Four Corners region, where New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah all, well, converge. Farmington also lies between three major Indian reservations; the Navajo to the west, the Ute Mountain Indians to the northwest, and the Southern Utes to the northeast. The city finds itself wedged between historic American Indian ruins, too: the Aztec Ruins National Monument and the Salmon Ruins are located to the northeast and east, with Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Culture National Historical Park to the northwest and southeast respectively.
More than 2,000 years ago, Farmington was home to the Anasazi, who lived in what is now referred to as “pit houses,” structures built around pits that were up to five feet deep in the ground, their sides plastered with clay or lined with stone, with posts stood upright in the pit to hold up the outer skin, typically made of branches, brush and grass. Later, the Anasazi began constructing sandstone pueblo structures which are still visible in Farmington today. The Navajo, Jicarilla Apache and the Utes followed the Anasazi, then the Spanish in the late 18th century. By the mid 19th century, “Farmingtown” became “Farmington,” as pioneers from nearby Animas City, Colorado, came to the area. In the early 20th century, apples were the prime crop for local farmers. As the years passed, Farmington experienced several oil and gas booms, and at one time the town was the leading producer of oil and gas in the entire state. Today, oil and gas remain a vital part of the local industry.
The oil and gas present around Farmington has fostered some interesting recent history, too, like Project Gasbuggy. In 1967, a nuclear bomb was detonated beneath Carson National Forest, which lies 50 miles east of Farmington, in an effort to fracture a large volume of the subterranean bedrock in order to sure up more natural gas to be extracted by gas wells. This was part of Operation Plowshare. It didn’t work.
The Spanish weren’t the only aliens to come to Farmington, it seems. Farmington’s recent transformation into an outdoors mecca may have been presaged by these ‘visitors’ who apparently played a cosmic game of tag in the skies above town.
Farmington is also home to the famous Connie Mack World Series of Baseball for the last 43-years. Players between the ages of 16 and 18 play in a 10-team series featuring squads from all over the country (including Puerto Rico) every August. There’s also a strongman competition the last Saturday of July, an annual river fest, and one of the most celebrated golf courses in the country, Pinon Hills.
The aforementioned transformation Farmington has been making as a top outdoors adventure destination is due in major part to the combination of incredible weather and stunning topography. The dry and temperate climate allows for year-round fishing, hiking, biking, and four-wheeling. The snow-capped San Juan mountains to the north, and the famous fractured volcanic breccia bursting out of the ground known as Shiprock, first called Tsé Bit?a?í, whcih means “winged rock” in Navajo, to the west, create the perfect vista for exploring Farmington’s many natural splendors. From canyons and mesas to the unusual hoodoo formations (tall, thin spires of rock that looks like gigantic drip castles), this city of roughly 44,000 people is becoming a mecca for thrill seekers and outdoor lovers alike. This coming June, the Four Corners Xterra Triathlon is being held here.
Some of the outdoor adventures available include:
Horseback riding, hiking, bicycling and birding are all available via the many trails that run through Animas and Berg Parks. The Animas River is also great for rafting and canoeing.
Windsurfing on Morgan Lake is a good time year-round (the water stays at around 75 degrees), but spring is when things get really fun, as the winds that kick up on the lake will have you zooming around like you’ve got an onboard engine.
Fly fishing along the Quality Waters of the San Juan River offers a chance to catch and release big trout. The fly fishing in Farmington brings enthusiasts from all over the country.
Off road lovers won’t do much better then getting behind the wheel of an ATV and hitting the trailings in the Glade Run Recreation Area, cruising over slick rocks, past boulders, and through the foothills. There’s also areas to rock climb, hike and mountain bike.
And if you’re more of a watcher then a doer, who knows, you may get a surprise if you visit Farmington.