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 > Eastern AZ and Central NM trip in May

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SteveAE

Bend, Oregon

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Posted: 03/23/12 10:47am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looking for ideas on where to stay and what to do while traveling in eastern Arizona and central New Mexico between mid-May and early June.

We will be going to Phoenix in mid-May for a nursing conference. At this time, we are unsure if we will bring the travel trailer or not.
If we bring the trailer, we will need a RV park In the Phoenix area that is close to downtown (have been looking at the Covered Wagon RV Park). If we don’t bring the trailer, we would simply stay in a motel while in Phoenix.
I thought I would be able to get in some hiking in the mornings after I dropped my wife off at the conference, then I will most likely want shade, a pool and internet access(in that order) in the afternoons. We will have our dog (50 lb Australian Shepherd) with us and she is “reasonably” snake savvy….i.e.; she is a big chicken and larger predators aren’t an issue for her as she stays close to me.

After the conference, we have about two weeks of vacation time. During this time, we thought we might go to Tularosa (in S. central New Mexico) for a couple days to visit an old college friend of my wife’s to start that two week period. But, from there, we really don’t have any plans other than, if it is hot, we would want to head north, up into the mountains. Since this part of the country is a bit further afield than we normally travel (we usually go to S. Utah in the spring), we thought we should take advantage of being there and focus on just this region (eastern AZ to central NM) for this trip.

Our camping style tends to be boondocking, with or without the trailer. If this type of camping isn't avaliable, then National Forrest CG’s and state parks would be our next choice. We try to avoid RV parks whenever possible. Of course, without the trailer, we won’t have access to air conditioning so that might dictate where we are able (willing) to stay to some extent. I can run the trailer AC from my Honda generator as long as we aren't too high.
We lead a fairly active outdoor lifestyle and enjoy hiking/backpacking, skiing/snowshoeing (of course not that time of year), exploring ruins, and river sports (kayaking, canoeing, and rafting….have been looking at the Rio Charma river as a possible three day float while in New Mexico). We have absolutely no interest in city activities.

So that’s the "plan for what it's worth.
Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Steve

agesilaus

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Posted: 03/23/12 01:13pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You might try the Catwalk in New Mexico if you will be near that area:

Catwalk

We've been down it and it's good for 4 hours or so.


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SteveAE

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Posted: 03/23/12 05:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Agesilaus and 2gypsies,

Thank you both for you suggestions. I like your ideas and have printed both of your comments out and am taking notes from that. Will continue to watch this posting for other suggestions.

Steve

2gypsies

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Posted: 03/23/12 01:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you need to be in the heart of Phoenix and don't bring the RV but instead, stay in a motel, you can do some nice nearby hikes in South Mountain regional park and to the west at Glendale in White Tanks Mountain regional park. If you bring the RV, White Tank Mountain would be the closest public park to the city and is a nice place to stay but there is no electric and it will be hot in May/June so you'll need the generator. Other parks with hiking would be Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction (has trees at sites); Cave Creek, Usery or McDowell Mountain. There are also regional parks but they all have electric. Excellent hiking in all. They're our favorites!

Phoenix area regional parks

To get out of Phoenix the scenic route (other than I-10 to New Mexico) we did this route last May: Take Hwy 60E to Globe and pick up Hwy 70 SE to Safford. Spend at least one night at Roper Lake State Park (hiking/natural hot pool to soak) and you can take a drive up Mt. Graham.

Continue on 70E and pick up Hwy 78E (very scenic) which will take you into New Mexico at Hwy 180. The above-mentioned "Catwalk" would be north on 180 at Glenwood. It's a nice trail and just across the highway from the entrance is a very small forest service campground for one night. It will be cool here.

Then continue south on 180 into Silver City, NM. If you want another very nice side tour from here, go thru Silver City, pick up SR152 east to SR35 north. There is a very nice forest service campground at Lake Roberts and the lake would be nice for the pup to play. Temps would be cool - no air cond. needed. From there you could do a day trip to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. They give nice tours. (Don't take Hwy 15N out of Silver City to get there - very narrow and twisty with an RV)

From Lake Roberts come back down from the cool mountains to 180 south. If you want another stop, City of Rocks State Park along 180 is unique. There are some electric sites but gorgeous dry camping spots tucked into the huge boulders.

Continue south on 180 to I-10 and pick up Hwy 70 just before Las Cruces and take 70 to Tularosa to visit your friend. You'll be close to Ruidoso which is higher elevation and cooler and has some nice forest service campgrounds.Also White Sands National Monument is beautiful.

If you still want to explore north-central New Mexico we stayed at Jemez Falls national forest campground near Los Alamos (I-25 north past Albuquerque and 550 NW to Hwy 4 to Jemez. This is very scenic and cool temps. Los Alamos gives a nice presentation in their visitor center. Then continue on 4 east and get on 84 north. Now you're on your way to another beautiful drive toward Abiquiu (painter Georgia O'Keefe's hangout). There's a nice Corps of Engineers campground - Abiquiu Lake - with electric but we took a site without because the temperature was in the 70's.

You can continue on 84North to Chama at the Colorado border and your return home! Having done this trip last spring it's still fresh. We really enjoyed it. Have a safe trip wherever you may land!!

* This post was edited 03/23/12 02:28pm by 2gypsies *


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RamblinManGA

Arizona

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Posted: 03/24/12 09:59am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi from GA.. . We always stop at Bosque Del Apache NWR just South of Socorro,NM. Great critter/bird watching spot, early morning,late afternoon best. 2nd best green chile cheeburger at Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio,NM !! And we enjoyed seeing the Very Large Array site West on US 60 (something to see) and then stop in Pie Town,NM for a piece of....pie Enjoy the trip, and regards, Craig


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SteveAE

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Posted: 03/24/12 02:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yum, Burgers and pie. This trip is sounding better by the day[emoticon]
Thanks,
Steve

Desert Captain

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Posted: 03/24/12 03:10pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In Southern New Mexico I highly recommend City of Rocks State Park (Google it). It is 25 miles north Of Deming and has the most amazing rock formations. The best part is the campsites are tucked right up in the rocks for $10 a night. They have nice restrooms with showers as well. They have a limited number of sites with hookups but the really great camping is in/among the rocks. Here a couple of shots:

[image]

[image]

If you are headed east from here take highway 61 north to 152 east (to connect with I-25). The winding two lane road takes you through and over (8,000'), some of the most spectacular mountains in New Mexico. The road is tight, rigs over 22' might not want to try it, but what a ride! Several nice boon docking CG's along this route as well. [emoticon]





DesertHawk

Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Posted: 03/25/12 07:28pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Just north of Tularosa is a neat area, near Carrizozo, Valley of Fires BLM Campground is a first rate campground with electric & water hookups, good dump station and a fine shower house. Pics & description can be found: Campground and Cloudcroft, Lincoln/Capitan, Carrizozo/White Oaks. You will find cool weather by Cloudcroft (normally); just hope last years troubles do not return (Lincoln Nat'l Forest was close due to fire danger very early due to drought>>>>>May 2011).

If into old west history, follow US 380 from Carrizozo, you will be passing Billy the Kid Country & Lincoln (off the route some but connected to the Lincoln County War Fort Stanton) & Smokey Bear in Capitan....not in this order however.

West of Carrizozo using US 380, off of I-25 in New Mexico by San Antonio, the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. [emoticon] However, I would think most of the huge flocks of geese & sandhill cranes will be on their way north by the time you are planning to be in NM.
Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park Never stayed there, but have read about others staying there to see the Bosque. As a matter of fact you could take US 380 all the way to I-25 at San Antonio & the Bosque del Apache. I-25 to Socorro, take US 60 towards Datil, Passing the VLA before you get to Datil & a very Nice BLM Campground. But would miss White Sands.

One of the most talked about green chile cheese burgers for years, is in San Antonio, NM at the Owl Bar.
Ditto

I have now been hearing about another green chile cheeseburger in San Antonio. The Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio. A Food Review and Ditto
I believe the chef at Buckhorn beat Bobby Flay on a Throwdown with his.

San Antonio, New Mexico was the birth place & boyhood home of Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton Hotels.

Using I-25: Around the T or C area, three state parks, Elephant Butte SP and Caballo SP with Caballo being closest to the interstate as well as Percha Dam State Park a nice place on Rio Grande, near Caballo Lake. Elephant Butte Lake State Park headquarters are 5 miles north of Truth or Consequences via I-25 exit 83. Caballo Lake State Park is 16 miles south of Truth or Consequences via I-25 exit 59 and NM 187. Percha Dam State Park is 21 miles south of Truth or Consequences via I-25, exit 59.
Never canoed on either lake (boated on the Butte)...the Butte is extremely low due to several years of drought....might be good for kayaking.

West of Las Cruces on I-10, Pancho Villa SP is south of Deming right on the Mexican Border. North of Deming towards Silver City is City of Rocks State Park. I've never been to Pancho Villa, but have enjoyed out trips & stays at City of Rocks.
Silver City Area -Videos

New Mexico State Parks Best Camping Prices Around & No Day Fees on top of camping fees. NM Camping Fees

Some more info on the Silver City Area:

[emoticon] Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway or NM Rte. 152 - Into Silver City is a neat drive, with a nice viewing area into an open pit copper mine. Road to Emory Pass with great vistias at the top. On the east side of Emory Pass there is Kingston; a neat ghost town, but one which still has people living in it and building new homes as well. Hillsboro is just down the mountain from Kingston as well. It is one of New Mexico's Ghost Towns with people still living there. But Lake Valley is not too far from and south of Hillsboro and it has almost no one living there anymore. On the western side of Emory Pass down at the "bottom" of the decent is a neat distinctive ridge with a very western descriptive metaphor of a name, the Devil's Backbone. A few campgrounds and areas to hike down in the "valley" along with a stream. Such as Lower Gallinas Campground, Upper Gallinas Campground, Wright's Cabin Campground and Iron Creek Campground which is in the middle of this recreational corridor spanning from the Mimbres Valley to Hillsboro, along NM Hwy 152 a great drive, very scenic.

Lake Roberts, NM-- Upper End Campground and Mesa Campground at the Lake Roberts Recreation Area recent upgrades. The upgrades include new picnic tables, grills, and fire rings. In addition, 12 units received water and power hookups with two of those sites upgraded with improvements for people with disabilities which include a sidewalk from the site unit to the restrooms. The Upper End Campground also recently received upgrades to many site pads that will eliminate issues during heavy rain. Both campgrounds also have a full-time campground host on site. Fees at Upper End Campground are proposed to increase from $7 to $10 a site per night. Fees at Mesa Campground are proposed to increase from $7 to $10 a site per night for most sites and $15 per night for sites with both water and electric hookups. A $3 charge for each additional vehicle is also proposed for all sites. Both the Upper End and Mesa Campgrounds are open to camping year-round on a “first come first serve basis” with a self-pay fee station available at each campground. Wilderness Ranger District Office in Mimbres - (575) 536-2250

On State Route 35, are two campgrounds that are a bit more RV-friendly - Mesa and Upper End. These campgrounds contain pleasant, sunny sites for RV, motorhome, car, and tent camping enthusiasts on or overlooking Lake Roberts. Stocked with rainbow trout, the lake also has Brown trout and catfish to challenge the fishing enthusiast.

For some hard drives:

There are some nice boondocking/dispersed sites by two of the forks of the Gila River (after desending down into the Gila canyon with a nice bridge over the River) a few miles before you get to Dr. Campbell's store at Gila Hot Springs. There is a road down to the river by the bridge to the East Fork of the Gila with trees and shaded sites. After crossing the bridge, there is a mesa-like area with another road down to the Middle/West Fork joined Gila River with dispersed sites by the river, large cottonwoods, etc. These were very nice places to camp (I have not been there in years). It is a fairly long drive back into this area from Lake Roberts. Some very steep roads to desend and climb out of, but paved. It is up into the Wilderness area, just off the road. There was camping near the Gila Cliff Dwellings, mainly just a parking lot & tables. To camp by the Gila River, one must desend from the paved road down steepish hills, but there is some dispersed sites on the upper "mesa" above the River. This is near the site of two forks of the Gila meeting/joining to form the Gila River. There are 3 forks, the MIDDLE FORK AND the WEST FORK join closer to the Cliff Dwellings, near the vistor center. It seems the stream becomes the Gila River when they join up. At the Bridge where the camping sites are near the EAST FORK joins up. There are hot springs up the Middle/East Fork Gila just off the river, but if you walk up to them, DO NOT get the water up the noise. There can be deadly amoebae in them (a killer water-borne amoeba known as naegleria fowleria). Video
Gila CliffDwellings
More Gila
Camping
FAQs

Over by the Lake Roberts area, there is a forest road which skirts or borders both the Gila Wilderness and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness with many despersed sites along the road. Take North Star Road off NM 35 which will later turn into NM 61 with leads to Wall Lake and Beaverhead area and a paved hwy NM 59 which leads one to the Winston and Chloride Area with many more despersed sites. Or angle to the west and one can go to Snow Lake & Willow Creek area and over to Mogollon and to Glenwood.

An easy/good highway: Up at the top/north of the Gila on US 60 towards Datil, there is the VLA before you get to Datil & a very Datil Well BLM Campground. From Silver Cityl go to Glenwood; then to Reserve. At Glenwood there is the Catwalk (Clicky) as well as a short side trip to Mogollon an old gold mining Ghost Town.
Reserve's Hero

Since first seeing the Organs in 1968 after waking up after an overnight on a trip to SoCal, we have never gotten tired of seeing them change with the time of day & the seasons (moved here in '71):
[image]
Organ Mountains from the NM Farm & Ranch Museum 10 Jan. '12.

[image]
Organs in the Pink...nearing sundown.

[image][image]
Road to Dripping Springs & Baylor Canyon Rd.

[image]
Windmill off Baylor Canyon Rd.

[image]
At the Trail Head Soledad Canyon BLM Day Use Area East of Las Cruces in Organ Mts.

For some Sights & Sites in Northern NM: Flagstaff - Gallup - Grants- to Santa Fe Plus.

A recent similar Post for Northern NM.

More 4Corners Plus Clicky.

I often hear people say it can be too hot in the Summer to Camp in New Mexico, as for being too hot to visit in the summer, New Mexico and Arizona have some Alpine areas which can be very mild to down right cold in the summer in the higher altitudes. Bring some warm clothes with you for the cool areas as well as the hot. NM will tend to be cooler in most places. Our 110 degrees will not be as bad as your 90 degrees due to the dryness of the heat. One is never too far from some cool elevations in NM. But you are planning a tip in the Spring, even more reason to bring warm clothing.....some of the places in the northern parts (even some in the higher elevations down south) may be very cold depending on how early you are planning on being here. Also in the spring, we get Pacific Front coming through fairly often at times which bring wind and at time the wind bring dust....plan on not traveling on these days.

[emoticon] On the way to NM from Phoenix, if you go by I-10: Chiricahua National Monument by Wilcox is a neat place. Some hiking trails. Shouldn't be too warm yet there.
More Stuff AZ & NM & some repeats as well...Sorry!
City of Rocks SP in NM north of Deming is a neat area. As is the Gila Nat'l Forest more north. If you need a place to spend a night in Las Cruces area, Aguirre Spring BLM Campground east of town off US 70 might be interesting for you. No showers, no water in campground. Should be cool there.

Heron Lake State Park has a nice lake and hiking trails and creek fishing. The state park is about 20 miles from Chama, about 30 minutes. Heron Lake is an anglers delight, stocked with Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon. *Heron lake has 6,000-acre normal surface acres. The lake has approximately 35 miles of shoreline. Maximum depth at the dam is 215 feet when full and 142 feet at minimum storage level (7,186 feet elevation). Lake is restricted to sailing and no-wake speed operation of motorboats. Coldwater fishery. Rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, carp, and kokanee salmon. Optimum fishing levels around 7,170' Ice fishing depending on conditions. One can will find good lake kayak/canoe exploration above the Narrows up Willow Creek and along the west side from the West Side Primitive Camping area. Another day can be spent exploring some of the Rio Chama Canyon with water backed up the Canyon where it enters El Vado Lake. North Ramp Access point for that paddle is just 2 miles west of Heron Lake on the way to the Stone House Lodge on NM 95.

We have spent a bit of time at Heron Lake State Park near Chama, NM going back several years in the summers. But have not been there in some time. We did have a canoe and enjoyed canoeing on it. Chama is a neat place with a very nice steam train ride up into Colorado. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. They fish the Chama River as well as the creek leading from Heron Lake to El Vado Lake. Rail Road

Heron Lake State Park: One can drive, bike or walk to a section of Vado Lake State Park, but Vado Lake allows speed boats, canoed a lot on *Heron, even canoed on the section of Vado by Heron up the Rio Chama which is "flooded" or backed up by Vado Lake water for some distance until it became two shallow to canoe easily). One can hike down from the Dam Area to the Rio Chama at Heron. As we were canoeing back from the flooded Rio Chama a speed boad up on plane came charging at us. But it turned before getting very close. Close enough at the time. Didn't know if he could see us or not. We were waving our paddles. We entered Vado at the North Boat Ramp. We were just getting back close to the Boat Ramp site.

It is hard to find a less expensive place to camp than New Mexico State Parks. Unlike Texas and Colorado state parks, no entry fees on top of the camping fees. Free showers and nice restrooms as well and for $4 more you can have electric, too.

If time allows check out the wool weavers workshop Tierra Wools in Los Ojos near the turn off to Heron Lake SP. Clicky

Two neat stops, north of Abiquiu, worth a see would be the Echo Amphitheater, a Natural rock formation, and the Ghost Ranch Piedra Lumbre Education and Visitor Center, located on U.S. Highway 84 just one mile north of the main Ghost Ranch entrance, has exhibits and a gift shop. A very nice museum in "O´Keefe Country." The Echo Amphitheater is past the visitor center some miles.

Chaco Canyon would be easier to go to without the TT. Ditto

The nights should not be a problem staying cool in NM even if you find the days warm to hot....it cools off quickly out here....elevation & dryness of the climate. Should not need AC to sleep. May want something to keep warm at times. Clothing as well as a heater.

* This post was last edited 03/25/12 10:16pm by DesertHawk *   View edit history


">DesertHawk- Las Cruces, NM USA
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SteveAE

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Posted: 03/25/12 10:26pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you to everyone for all the great information. I have lots to digest now and, armed with all this data, can only blame myself if I don't find great places to visit while in New Mexico.

BTW, I just watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (old video) and it sure looked like some of the scenes could have been filmed in the Organ Mountains...based on Deserthawks pictures anyway. Ah, the magic of Hollywood [emoticon]

eubank

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Posted: 03/26/12 08:31am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

SteveAE wrote:

... BTW, I just watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (old video) and it sure looked like some of the scenes could have been filmed in the Organ Mountains...based on Deserthawks pictures anyway. Ah, the magic of Hollywood [emoticon]


I enjoy looking this kind of thing up. And the film didn't include the Organ Mntns in southern New Mexico, but seemingly just about everywhere else in the southwest! Here's the list; reference link is below.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

  • 20th Century Fox Ranch, Malibu Creek State Park - 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, California, USA
  • Chama, New Mexico, USA
  • Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico (Bolivia)
  • Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, Durango, Colorado, USA
  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway, Durango, Colorado, USA (Railway Robberies)
  • Grafton, Utah, USA (small town where Etta lives)
  • Las Animas River Gorge, Durango, Colorado, USA
  • New Sheridan Bar - 231 W. Colorado Avenue, Telluride, Colorado, USA (Bar)

  • San Juan National Forest, Durango, Colorado, USA
  • Silverton, Colorado, USA
  • Snow Canyon, Utah, USA (Landscape)
  • St. George, Utah, USA (Landscape)
  • Stage 16, 20th Century Fox Studios - 10201 Pico Blvd., Century City, Los Angeles, California, USA (studio)
  • Taos, New Mexico, USA
  • Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico (Bolivia)
  • Trimble Bridge, Animas River, Colorado, USA (Jump into river) (Baker's Bridge)
  • Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, USA (Landscape)


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064115/locations

[emoticon]
Lynn


Pics and stuff at my Flickr pages


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