Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Spring trip to New Mexico?
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dedmiston

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Posted: 11/27/18 10:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey Bill - You could literally throw a dart at the map of NM and find someplace magical.

We stopped someplace really offbeat last winter and absolutely loved it. It was Rusty's RV Ranch down in the panhandle north or Rodeo.

I picked this place kind of by mistake, because we were looking for someplace to camp near Chiricahua National Monument. Chiricahua is in Arizona, but there's noplace to stay anywhere nearby. This spot in New Mexico looked close on the map, but there was a big mountain range in the way. Did you ever see the movie Rat Race where Cathy Bates told Whoopi Goldberg she "Should have bought a squirrel"? We had a similar experience with the woman who ran Rusty's. She gave us a hand drawn map with the "shortcut" to Chiracahua. She described all of the landmarks and told us we'd pass a sign that said "road closed for winter" and to just ignore it. The pavement ended and this so-called road turned into a narrow dirt fire road that was covered in snow in many spots. I don't switch my dually over into 4WD very often, but we needed it for the snow.

Chiracahua was incredible though and we had a great day. At the end of our hike there was no way I was driving over that mountain shortcut again, so we took the highway around and it was about fifteen minutes shorter.

Rusty's RV Ranch was a hoot. When we checked in, she mentioned to me that their camp was "light pollution free" and that we couldn't use any exterior lights on our RV. She had a basket full of loaner red flashlights if we wanted one. It turned out to be a big draw for amateur astronomers. Some of the spaces even had special pads poured for people to set up their large telescopes.

Each of the spaces were about 30' x 100' pull through. They were massive. It was like having our own yard. Even if the place had been full, we wouldn't have been anywhere near our neighbors.

There was a big communal hot tub that was the size of a regular residential swimming pool, but it was above ground and hot. That was a fun nightly outing. And as promised, the view of the night sky was incredible.

Add that to your list of interesting destinations. I would definitely go back. Skip the shortcut to Chiricahua though.


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profdant139

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Posted: 11/27/18 09:43pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Dave, thanks for that tip about Rusty's. We are dark sky fanatics, so it would be great to find an RV park without bright lights. Boondocking is wonderful, but there are times when hookups can be a very welcome change!


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dedmiston

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Posted: 11/28/18 11:48am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

profdant139 wrote:

Dave, thanks for that tip about Rusty's. We are dark sky fanatics, so it would be great to find an RV park without bright lights. Boondocking is wonderful, but there are times when hookups can be a very welcome change!


If you go down to Rusty's, I would strongly recommend the day trip over to Chiricahua in AZ. We had never heard of it before that trip, but I think it's as beautiful as Utah's Bryce Canyon. Its only drawback is that it's so remote.

As for the dark sky, it would be interesting to check the lunar phase before you head down there. A full moon would kind of kill the experience.

JKJavelin

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Posted: 11/28/18 01:25pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had heard of Rusty's earlier this year and it sounded like an interesting and nice, uncrowded place to visit, so we recently booked a few nights for early Feb. for the start of our mid-winter mini-snowbirding trip. I've heard nothing but good things about the place. And... she takes Passport America.
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Roy&Lynne

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Posted: 11/28/18 01:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That would be a perfect place to go. Make sure you check out the Ghost Ranch, Abiquiui Lake (there is a BLM campground), Bandelier National Forest, (also has a campground) There are also some forest campgrounds, Pilar, Rio Bravo and Arroyo Hondo closer to Taos, and if you have the time check out Chama and if its open take the awesome train ride.
OH if your dark sky lovers. Plan to spend a couple nights at El Vado Lake State Park, which is closer to Chama but not far from Santa Fe. It is noted for its night skys and beautiful sunsets as is a sister state park, Heron Lake.

* This post was edited 11/28/18 01:56pm by Roy&Lynne *


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dedmiston

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Posted: 11/28/18 02:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I don't think anyone has mentioned Chaco Culture yet.

Also, something to spice up any Southwest trip is listening to Tony Hillerman audiobooks while you drive. The stories are great, he gives a lot of background to the local tribal life, and you'll recognize a lot of the settings as you travel around.

vermilye

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Posted: 11/29/18 09:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you do decide to spend the earlier part of the trip in southern NM, check out City of Rocks State Park near Deming. While they have a hook up section, most of the nicest sites are dry and tucked among the rocks.
[image]


While there, make a day trip to Gila Cliff Dwellers National Monument


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4runnerguy

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Posted: 12/05/18 12:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A little late to the game here but I've been out playing too much.

Places to see:

Chaco Culture. Not near Santa Fe or Taos, but definitely something to put on one's life bucket list. Way out in the middle of nowhere. There is a CG there, but the dirt road discourages most from dragging their units out there. We hope to go back there again this summer.

El Morro NM. Also not near SF, but a stop that totally surprised me. For both of these, we stayed at McGaffey NFS CG SE of Gallup and did day trips. The McGaffey CG has six or seven sites with electricity and sewer, kind of unusual for NFS CGs.

As previously mentioned, Bandelier NM has a CG but no hookups. It is in the desert but higher up in elevation. Further up NM 4 there are more NFS CG's that are more in the trees. A bit of a commute down to the SF/Taos area, but nice setting.

NE of Santa Fe up NM 475 there are several NFS CGs plus Hyde Memorial SP. Good access down to SF.

There are several NFS CG's above Taos. Never been past them so can't comment on them. Do check into whether any were impacted by the fires last summer.

So much to see and do in Santa Fe. One thing we found is that if you visit on the weekend, you can park for free in the big lot across Santa Fe Trail from the capital. (Hey, I'm frugal not cheap!).

I would point out that they are predicting a wetter than normal winter for NM this year (whew!), so snow might be an issue at higher elevations until you get into May. Note that many NFS CG's don't open until mid-May.


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ppine

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Posted: 12/06/18 07:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Chaco Canyon is one of the great celestial and ceremonial sites in North America. The whole complex is oritented towards the sun and its movement through the year. The closer you look, the more amazing it becomes.

Puebloan culture there was most successful around 1,000 to 1,300 AD. The site has been extensively documented by using tree ring analysis from the vigas (timbers) used to construct the roof of the dwellings. Ponderosa pine logs were harvested up to 50 or 70 miles away and brought to the site. Chaco is right up there with Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley asone of the most important arch sites in North America.

dedmiston

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Posted: 12/06/18 11:11am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ppine wrote:

Chaco is right up there with Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley as one of the most important arch sites in North America.


It almost feels even more special than those two because it's so much more work to get to. You have to really want to get there, to get there. It's so worth it though.

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