New Mexico backroads: Socorro Cty Rd. 12 (concluded)
As noted, Socorro Cty. Rd. 12 winds and dips and rattles its dusty way through the rugged desert terrain west of Bernardo, changing magically into Forest Rd. 354 after curving around the Sierra Ladrones to the north and west, and crossing the Rio Salado at the site of Riley (ghost town).
On one particular flat under brilliant midday skies I was delighted to discover an extensive patch of these torch-like blooming leafy plants, for which I have yet to discover an identity. Online desert wildflower guides are thus far proving to be of limited value in terms of this, and a couple of other identifications.
My shot-in-the-daylight I.D. of cliffrose blooming above the horse skull is, I believe, an accurate one. Here is another (color) photo of the flower for verification.
A great spot for taking a lunch break is at Baca Canyon, where the road crosses a dry wash lined with several ancient cottonwoods — a rare opportunity for shade on a bright sunny day (as most tend to be hereabouts).