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Rio Grand Gorge: Water 1, Rock 0

From the bridge overlooking the Rio Grande Gorge, the famous river looks tiny. But that's because it's 650 feet down.

The bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos, N.M. is truly breath-taking, and is 650 feet above the river below. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

TAOS, N.M.--Wow. That's almost all I had to say after walking across the Rio Grand Gorge Bridge near this popular city.

And why? Well, the bridge is suspended over the river, which is 650 feet below, and what you see from the span is the outrageously beautiful effects of one of America's most powerful waterways having carved its way into walls of the basalt flows from the Taos Plateau volcanic fields over the centuries and millenia.

The rock looks like it was just chipped away, and the view almost trivializes the scale of what you're seeing from the bridge.

And then there's the bridge itself. You can walk across it on both the north and south sides, looking down the whole way. It is a vertiginous experience, especially in the days after the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Every time a tractor trailer rumbled across, shaking the entire 500-foot bridge, I could only cringe.

But, hey, what's the point of coming to a place like this if not to overcome a fear of heights, or a fear of complete structural failure? After all, that's what I did when I went to visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk earlier on Road Trip 2007, my journey around the Southwest.

Anyway, if you find yourself in the Taos region, I suggest taking a side trip to the bridge. You'll never forget it.

The Rio Grande river may not look that far away, but the fact that it is 650 below the bridge gives a sense of the scale. Daniel Terdiman/CNET