There are now five climbing walls to pick from in relative proximity to this access to the Rio Grande. Lumped together as being by the boat put-in for the Taos Box, the oldest and most easily approached is John's Wall. Right off the road on the Hondo Creek. Above this roadside crag follow a climber's trail up to The New New Buffalo. Back up Hondo Creek on the same north rim, the Solar Asylum has the stiffest overhanging sport routes. One of the best single track rides in the Taos (Horsetheif trail) goes right by the top of this crag (see directions for alternate approach to top of crag). Just upstream from the John Dunn Bridge on the east side of the Rio Grande, the River Wall has steep sport routes on the wall directly across from the Taos Box Put-in. If you cross the John Dunn Bridge and park at the put-in you can access the Old Stagecoach Road and some moderate sport mixed with easy, short trad. These are the easiest toprope choices.

Continue on the main road to the west to Miner's Crag, and a host of sport and trad routes on a wild landscape.

The BLM just installed two new long-drops to accommodate your post-caffeinated gastro-colic reflex. Please use these john's at John's.

This area represents the only drivable access to a Rio Grande River-level crossing for miles and has been a historic western access trail for Taos and it's natives for centuries. From stagecoaches headed to Flagstaff or old John Dunn's Model T Ford bouncing out to meet the Chile Line at Tres Piedras, this is the way you went on wheels until the Gorge Bridge was completed in 1968. The Pueblo Indians and others also left their mark as is evidenced by petroglyphs lining the Hondo creek and the Rio Grande. Further downstream is the the old Manby Hotsprings stage road, bridge and ferry crossing. Manby lost his head over his land grabbing deals and lost the bridge in a flood.
The famed New Buffalo Commune was just up Hondo Canyon, "Easy Rider" was inspired by this and the likes of the Hog Farm Commune, Ram Dass, Ken Kesey, and others who explored the counter-culture in the 60's.……

Getting There

From Taos, go north on highway 522 to Arroyo Hondo about 10 miles. Turn left at Arroyo Hondo. Follow dirt road about 2 miles, bearing right at fork. Almost down at the Rio Grande River, a small basalt roadside wall appears on right just after bridge over the Rio Hondo. There are about 20 routes. There are hot springs about 1/4 mile downstream on the western bank of the Rio Grande. To enjoy the Black Rock Spring, turn Left after the bridge and drive up this road to park at the first turn. Follow a faint trail downstream. The Manby Springs were in "Easy Rider" but are a bit harder to get to. Bring a trashbag and do your part to keep it clean, favor.

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Classic Climbing Routes at John Dunn Bridge Area

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
The Houston S
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Sport, TR
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
The Houston S John's Wall
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Sunburned Old Stagecoach Rd
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport, TR
Bulges John's Wall
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
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This area is known as the John Dunn Bridge Area In Taos Rock ( and John's Wall / River Wall in Rock Climbing NM.

These cliffs can be very pleasant in the winter months. John's Wall gets the sun late morning into the early afternoon. The Solar Asylum and New Buffalo Wall get morning shade in summer and sun in the afternoon when they receive the last rays of the evening. The River Wall has not seen much traffic in recent years and seems to have been taken over by the flora and fauna and has become very dusty in spots.

  • * Although they are higher up, and actually because of this,The Solar Asylum and New Buff Wall tend to stay quite a bit warmer during winter afternoons and cooler in summer mornings than the cliffs at the bottom of the canyon.**
Mar 8, 2009
Hey mike, nice beta photo. The New Buff Wall is located between the Solar Asylum and John's wall. The trail goes up the left side of John's wall then diagonals up and right(east) to that center point(10 min walk and another 10 min. to reach The Asylum).This is the preferred access trail to The Asylum & New Buff if the mesa top access is muddy.The New Buff wall has over 12 short routes,5.9 to 5.12 sport & trad. I will try to post some soon.

  • *Also the road down into The Hondo Gorge is slick in winter and requires good tires and/or 4WD to get back out!!*
Jan 14, 2010
Mike, Couple of small points on your John's Wall notes. Easy Rider was not filmed at New Buffalo. As I heard it, when I first got to town in 1980, the production company requested to do so but the owner at the time, Rick Klein, declined.

Ken Kesey is spelt thus. Aug 21, 2011
Mike Howard    
Thanks Slate. The editor I have always hoped for. Cheers mate. Aug 22, 2011
Another thing that you should add to the beta photo is the hot springs! If you go across the bridge and turn left (south), go to the very first switchback and park, there is an obvious footpath that leads down to the springs (>1/4 mile walk). To me this is something that makes this climbing spot really unique and cool. Climb until you're sore and then relax in the springs and wash the pain away! One note is that you may encounter naked people at this spring, I have. Sep 10, 2013