Heading out from Red River, going west, the trip is almost completely downhill. Lots of great rock along the way with a few side roads and forest service campgrounds. Then comes Molycorp, a large-scale molybdenum mine that's working over a pretty large chunk of rock to the north of the road. In the midst of all this wild and crazy granite those smooth slopes seem out of place, never mind the large conveyor systems that reach way up the hill.

The Molycorp plant
The Molycorp mine is on top of this pile of tailings

Once you get past Molycorp, the ruggedness of the granite reasserts itself. It's pretty wild and woolly countryside for a few miles, then the mountains open up into the valley that leads into Questa. Where Red River was for mining and logging, Questa is for ranching and farming.

Many times I've driven the road from Taos through Questa and on north to San Luis and Fort Garland in Colorado. It was only in coming down the hill from Red River that I actually began to see why folks would live here. Down the hill east of that highway is a wide open valley and it's gorgeous.