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Author Topic: Northern New Mexico  (Read 422 times)

Floridafran

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Northern New Mexico
« on: September 11, 2018, 05:38:02 PM »
Hi all.

I've tried searching here but haven't found the answers I need so I'm turning to the people who've always helped before.  We have reservations in Yellowstone for June 4-13, 2019.  On our way from NW Florida we want to do more than drive through upper New Mexico.  We're really into photographing interesting/unusual geological formations and areas and other natural wonders.  So far I've found the following places/things we want to see/do.

Closer to Taos - Echo Amphitheater and Plaza Blanca near Ghost Ranch, and the Rio Grande River Gorge area.
Closer to Santa Fe - Bandelier NM, Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks NM, Valle Caldera NP, and the Jemenez Mountains area.  Also want to see the spiral staircase at Loretto Chapel.

We are no frills campers.  We're gone from before daylight until after dark so all we need is a safe place to park the RV to come back to clean up and sleep.  We can and will dry camp although if it's going to be more than 3-4 days we prefer to at least have electricity.  We don't have solar and our hours in camp often don't coincide with allowed generator hours. With that in mind, I'm wondering if we should stay at Roadrunner RV Park just south of Espanola.  I  know it's a just big, gravel parking lot right on the highway, but it has power and water.  Or would it be better to split our time between something closer to Taos - I'm thinking Abiquiu Lake - and something closer to Santa Fe - have no idea where for that?

Once we leave that/those areas, we're going to see stuff south of Farmington/Bloomfield - Chaco Culture NHP, Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, De-Na-Zin, and Bisti Wilderness Areas, Fossil Forest, and Burnham Badlands. Have no idea where we'll stay for these.

As always, I'm open to any suggestions you have on places to stay, things/places to see/do, and best routes to get from one place to the other. I've gotten the New Mexico True tourism guide and other info, but nothing beats the advice of people who have been there and done it.  Especially when an RV is involved.

Thanks and safe travels.
Fran & Tom/ 4 rescue cats - Peaches, Tipper, Snippet, Aja/2011 Winnebago Vista 30W/2008 4 door Wrangler 4X4

SeilerBird

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2018, 05:50:14 PM »
My recommendation is to go to the Grand Canyon, one of the most photographic places on the planet (check my signature for my Grand Canyon photos. Then hop on 89 and take it all the way to Yellowstone. May is a great time to see the canyon. Weather is great, monsoons have not started and it is not as crowded as it will be in the summer. There is a full hook up park inside the south rim and free shuttle buses run all the time.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Hfx_Cdn

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2018, 05:58:33 PM »
     It is a bit out of your way, but we were enthralled with Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, Needles and Canyonlands.  Taos and Santa Fe are neat, but nowhere near the raw beauty of the other 4.  Taosum is from Taos, when he reads the string, I am sure he will have some good advice.

Ed
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darsben

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2018, 06:04:01 PM »
You are so close to Canyon De Chelly (de Shay) near the four corners that  is in a lot of peoples estimation Prettier than the Grand Canyon.
Please try to get there
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Chakara

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2018, 10:23:16 PM »
  I like how you've picked a lot of the lesser known place to take a peek at.  As a native New Mexican I'm familiar with many of the places you listed (and adding the others to my list :) )  If your at Echo Canyon - right next door is the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert.  It is a small monestary where they also brew beer - call Monks Beer :)  The only downside is you can't buy it at the monestary but you can pick it up in a local store :-\   They have a humble chapel there there that I find peaceful.   There is quite a bit of dry camping along the river on that drive.

  If you trout fish - a great area to do it is below the damn at El Vado lake.  Also very close to that area.   The Brazzo's cliffs - east of Chama and also in that area is pretty darn cool.

  Heron lake has a nice state park campground in that area....you can get Electric and Water for like $14/night and there is a dump in the area.

  Down near Jemez, there is Fenton lake which has a nice little campground - no hookups but pretty.  If you want some area's to "plop down in a meadow" there are lots of them up there.  Oh, almost forgot Jemez Campground - very close to the Valles Caldera.  I think you'll enjoy visiting another one of the worlds 7 super volcanoes!  Look for one of the natural hot-springs in the area.....just don't be too surprised if you see folks "au natural" there :)

Also in the Jemez -  and because you seem into smaller cool rock formations - search for Tea Kettle Rock.  It's a drive back into the forest to get to, but I think it's cool.    Also the Soda Dam down near the village of Jemez.

Good luck - hope you enjoy your visit to our humble state....

-Chak





 

 

 

« Last Edit: September 11, 2018, 10:29:45 PM by Chakara »
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AStravelers

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2018, 08:56:22 AM »
I too, like that you are going to visit some of the wonderful less visited places in this country.  One advantage is the smaller crowds.  There is lots more to see in this country than just the big National Parks.  Not that you shouldn't go to them, just that there are other places that are great to visit.

Suggestions about:
Quote
Once we leave that/those areas, we're going to see stuff south of Farmington/Bloomfield - Chaco Culture NHP, Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, De-Na-Zin, and Bisti Wilderness Areas, Fossil Forest, and Burnham Badlands. Have no idea where we'll stay for these.
For Chaco Canyon, it is great to camp in the park. Plan a 3-4 night stay to see the park. There are 4-7 sites in the CG which will have room for your 30' RV. Make reservations! HOWEVER if there is a chance of rain, don't try to go in or out of the park.  The last 6 miles will be far to muddy for an RV and may be to difficult for even your Jeep.  If it is dry, take your RV in.  The first 7 miles of very good gravel road was an easy drive (about 30mph) in October 2016.  The last 6 miles was very rutted and bumpy.  It took us about 45 minutes to drive the 6 miles. In places we drove at 2-3mph for a couple hundred yards.  I felt it was well worth the effort to stay inside the park.  If you can plan it for a full moon, they have a moonlight tour in the main ruin, which is wonderful.  Be absolutely sure use the directions to the park on the NP website.  It is the ONLY way to safely get to the park.    To view the CG inside the park use Google Maps and go to: GPS for campground:  36.037066 -107.889983  Additionally Google Maps has the 360 degree view photo at ground level for the CG so you can view all the campsites. 

An additional place to camp is Angel's Peak BLM about 15 miles S of Bloomfield, NM and about 10 miles N of the turnoff to Chaco Canyon.  Directions to Angel Peak:  Go 15 mi S on US-550/SR-44 to MM 136.8 (watch for sm sign parallel to hwy), TL (E) on CR-7175, go ~6 mi on gravel rd (washboarded 1st ~1 mi). 36.54716 -107.86141.   There is a campground and you can also park at any of the scenic overlook areas.  We have always camped at the scenic overlooks, which also have covered picnic tables. 

The first photo is the good gravel part of the road into Chaco. 
The 2nd photo is the rough part of the road.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2018, 09:03:30 AM by AStravelers »
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Wendy

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2018, 10:52:11 AM »
There are some great State Parks in New Mexico. And there is an annual pass you can buy that gives you freecampjng. I believe we figured it paid fir itself with 22 nights. The area around Abiquiu is spectacular with a nice COE Campground. Chaco is worth several days but the Campground does fill up... believe the sign at the highest turnoff if it says “full.” Enjoy.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2018, 04:36:45 PM by Wendy »
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taoshum

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2018, 03:22:50 PM »
Hi all.

I've tried searching here but haven't found the answers I need so I'm turning to the people who've always helped before.  We have reservations in Yellowstone for June 4-13, 2019.  On our way from NW Florida we want to do more than drive through upper New Mexico.  We're really into photographing interesting/unusual geological formations and areas and other natural wonders.  So far I've found the following places/things we want to see/do.

Closer to Taos - Echo Amphitheater and Plaza Blanca near Ghost Ranch, and the Rio Grande River Gorge area.
Closer to Santa Fe - Bandelier NM, Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks NM, Valle Caldera NP, and the Jemenez Mountains area.  Also want to see the spiral staircase at Loretto Chapel.

We are no frills campers.  We're gone from before daylight until after dark so all we need is a safe place to park the RV to come back to clean up and sleep.  We can and will dry camp although if it's going to be more than 3-4 days we prefer to at least have electricity.  We don't have solar and our hours in camp often don't coincide with allowed generator hours. With that in mind, I'm wondering if we should stay at Roadrunner RV Park just south of Espanola.  I  know it's a just big, gravel parking lot right on the highway, but it has power and water.  Or would it be better to split our time between something closer to Taos - I'm thinking Abiquiu Lake - and something closer to Santa Fe - have no idea where for that?

Once we leave that/those areas, we're going to see stuff south of Farmington/Bloomfield - Chaco Culture NHP, Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, De-Na-Zin, and Bisti Wilderness Areas, Fossil Forest, and Burnham Badlands. Have no idea where we'll stay for these.

As always, I'm open to any suggestions you have on places to stay, things/places to see/do, and best routes to get from one place to the other. I've gotten the New Mexico True tourism guide and other info, but nothing beats the advice of people who have been there and done it.  Especially when an RV is involved.

Thanks and safe travels.

"We have reservations in Yellowstone for June 4-13, 2019." I take it from this that you'll come thru NM in May?  If that's true, much of northern NM could still be making the transition from winter to spring... but who knows anymore with the climate stuff.  Bandelier will be OK by late May and Abiqui will yield fantastic photos in the early morning and just about sunset.  If you really want an adventure, take the Jeep road to the Pedernal (https://geoinfo.nmt.edu/tour/landmarks/cerro_pedernal/home.html).  Valle Grande could be snowed in unless there's an early melt.  The Rio Grande Gorge will be fine (watch for the Big Horn Sheep!!!).  Chaco could be muddy though.  S'Fe/Taos will be OK, might be chilly though.  If you're coming on I-10, might want to consider White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Silver City, etc...probably too late for the Bosque though.  Google places like this:  https://www.pinterest.com/visittaos/taos-photography/
for suggestions too.  I guess if it were me, I'd proceed with your plan and adjust to the situation when you know the weather conditions in NM, especially northern NM.  Photographically, it's almost impossible to go wrong if you take some of the back roads and stop when something catches your eye.  Take the "high road" from S'Fe to Taos, for instance... there are some great photos waiting for you, especially as the clouds and sunlight changes.  Plus some great cafe food.
07 Itasca Meridian 34SH.  '08 Jeep Sahara.
Taos, NM.

taoshum

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2018, 07:09:15 PM »
forgot to mention RV parks... we've never stayed in any of these though...

Taos-- there's one on the southside of town and one on the northside out on US64
Chama-- several, mostly to accommodate the narrow gage RR customers
Red River -- the most in northern NM
SF -- one out on Cerrillos Rd and others nearby
Angle Fire -- some new RV parks in the area
Espanola area -- the one you mentioned in Pojoque

Aside from all these:  There's the BLM Wild Rivers area north of Questa, really nice but few hookups

Carson NF:  many campgrounds, see the website
Santa Fe NF: many more campgrounds, especially in the Jemez Area
Cochiti Lake, south of SF, west of I25-- nice campground by BLM?, some hookups
Rio Grande National Monument... 250.000 acres north and west of Taos, dry camp almost anywhere
Abiqui Lake, Fenton Lake, Eagle Nest Lake, Heron Lake, Navajo Lake (outside Farmington)

I'd guess that the best RV staging area for Chaco, Bisti, etc would be the San Juan Fairgrounds just east of Farmington.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2018, 07:11:48 PM by taoshum »
07 Itasca Meridian 34SH.  '08 Jeep Sahara.
Taos, NM.

Floridafran

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2018, 08:57:42 PM »
Thank you all so much.  Lots of great info here.  I have a lot of researching to do on this new stuff.

SeilerBird, love the Grand Canyon.  I've been twice - once with each husband.

Hfx_Cdn, we've been to canyonlands, but not the others.  If we do come back down through western Colorado after YS, would 3rd/4th week of June be getting too hot for Mesa Verde?

darsben, maybe I can figure out how to fit Canyon de Chelly in this trip. I've read about it and seen photos.  Looks beautiful.

Chakara, I have Soda Dam on my list, but I didn't know about Tea Kettle Rock. Thanks.  Thanks also for reminding me about the Benedictine Abbey.  I'd forgotten it.  While we love - and have visited - many of our major National Parks, we also love the lesser know wonders.  As mentioned, fewer people and more peaceful. 

AStravelers, thank you for those details directions to Angel's Peak.  And I totally get what you said about the Chaco road after looking at your photos.

Hi, Wendy, I doubt you remember because you answer so many posts, but you helped us a lot when we were planning our 2011 trip.  I  always appreciate your input.  New Mexico does have some amazing sounding state parks.  We had hoped to be in southern N.M. from mid-October into early November this year but life interfered so that trip was put on hold until next fall.  We normally buy a pass for the state parks anywhere we're going to be for more than a few nights.  For one thing, we usually make day trips to more than just the ones we stay in.  And, it's helps them keep the Parks nice for all of us.  Most states are like here in Florida - the Parks are woefully under financed.  Even buying a pass it's generally not much, if any, more expensive than staying in private campgrounds.

taoshum, We are a little concerned about early May being too early. As suggested, we'll have to be ready to switch plans, if necessary.  If we have to skip some places on the way to Yellowstone, maybe we can come back down Colorado on the west side and see them on the way home.  We spent a week in Ouray in late September 2011, but there was so much more along that side we wanted to see.  My husband wouldn't complain if we took that route home.  The names of any of those places for great cafe food that you want to share would be most welcome.  We love to try eating where the locals do. 

I've read about RVers dry camping in the Bisti parking lot.  Have any of you ever done that or know anyone who did?  They do it in order to be there for sunrise, sunset, and night sky photos.  I've seen some pics and they are beautful.

Thanks again.  If you think of other suggestions, I'm ready to see them.  Safe travels, everyone.
Fran & Tom/ 4 rescue cats - Peaches, Tipper, Snippet, Aja/2011 Winnebago Vista 30W/2008 4 door Wrangler 4X4

Windybill

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2018, 11:17:49 PM »
Been to the Bisti Wilderness a number of times, dry camped in the parking lot. Very special place

AStravelers

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2018, 06:46:46 AM »
Thank you all so much.  Lots of great info here.  I have a lot of researching to do on this new stuff.

SeilerBird, love the Grand Canyon.  I've been twice - once with each husband.

Hfx_Cdn, we've been to canyonlands, but not the others.  If we do come back down through western Colorado after YS, would 3rd/4th week of June be getting too hot for Mesa Verde?

darsben, maybe I can figure out how to fit Canyon de Chelly in this trip. I've read about it and seen photos.  Looks beautiful.

Chakara, I have Soda Dam on my list, but I didn't know about Tea Kettle Rock. Thanks.  Thanks also for reminding me about the Benedictine Abbey.  I'd forgotten it.  While we love - and have visited - many of our major National Parks, we also love the lesser know wonders.  As mentioned, fewer people and more peaceful. 

AStravelers, thank you for those details directions to Angel's Peak.  And I totally get what you said about the Chaco road after looking at your photos.

Hi, Wendy, I doubt you remember because you answer so many posts, but you helped us a lot when we were planning our 2011 trip.  I  always appreciate your input.  New Mexico does have some amazing sounding state parks.  We had hoped to be in southern N.M. from mid-October into early November this year but life interfered so that trip was put on hold until next fall.  We normally buy a pass for the state parks anywhere we're going to be for more than a few nights.  For one thing, we usually make day trips to more than just the ones we stay in.  And, it's helps them keep the Parks nice for all of us.  Most states are like here in Florida - the Parks are woefully under financed.  Even buying a pass it's generally not much, if any, more expensive than staying in private campgrounds.

taoshum, We are a little concerned about early May being too early. As suggested, we'll have to be ready to switch plans, if necessary.  If we have to skip some places on the way to Yellowstone, maybe we can come back down Colorado on the west side and see them on the way home.  We spent a week in Ouray in late September 2011, but there was so much more along that side we wanted to see.  My husband wouldn't complain if we took that route home.  The names of any of those places for great cafe food that you want to share would be most welcome.  We love to try eating where the locals do. 

I've read about RVers dry camping in the Bisti parking lot.  Have any of you ever done that or know anyone who did?  They do it in order to be there for sunrise, sunset, and night sky photos.  I've seen some pics and they are beautful.

Thanks again.  If you think of other suggestions, I'm ready to see them.  Safe travels, everyone.
Mesa Verde CG inside the park is at 7800', it won't be too hot!  It may even be a bit chilly. 

Chaco Canyon in May/June.  I would call the park about a week before planned arrival day and check on the road conditions.  If muddy then go somewhere else.  If dry, then check the daily weather and 3 day forecast for Bloomfield, NM, if the weather stays dry, you are good to go.   

About Chaco Canyon, winter, spring, summer transition, keep in mind this is desert country.  Rain and heavy downpours, as well as snow, are the exception, not the rule.  Here is a link to Weather Undergrounds historic calendar website:  https://www.wunderground.com/calendar/us/nm/grants-milan/KGNT/date/2018-5  for May 2018.  While the location is Grants, NM about 60 air miles south of Chaco Canyon, it is about as close as Wunderground history gets to the park.  What I really like about this history calendar is with just a couple of clicks of the mouse you can select any month and/or year and see the actual daily weather history for that month.  The history goes back some 30 years.  If you take a look you will see that May is very dry, only 1 to no days of even a 1/2 inch of rain in the month going back about4 years.  So the chances of having dry roads is good.

So much of the time, in various forums, I see people replying that the weather in this or that location for this or that time of the year is bad and your really don't want to be there.  However when I use the Wunderground history calendar, I many times see that for 60% to 90% of the days the weather is good to great for that location.  So if it is a place we want to go, especially for the off seasons when visitation is light, we check the weather history for the last 10 years or so.  If the weather is suitable for us, we make our plans to go and take our chances of having the good weather the place has to offer the majority of the days.   
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

OBX

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2018, 07:38:59 AM »
If you want to photograph unusual geologic formations you may be interested in the Valley of Fire, West of Roswell.  We zipped by there trying to make time but it peaked my interest.  You could do that and then Albuquerque's Old Town, then Santa Fe and press on to Taos.  Santa Fe is beautiful.  Taos Pueblo was excellent.

We stayed at Taos Valley RV park.  It was exceedingly convenient for exploring the Taos area.  We liked the layout of the sites, especially the landscaping.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2018, 07:42:48 AM by OBX »

Floridafran

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2018, 02:36:05 PM »
Windybill, thanks for the verification about dry camping in the Bisti parking lot. I've just seen such beautiful night photographs and want to experience it for myself.

AStraverlers, thank you for that advice and the Wunderground link. Great site!

OBX, We were supposed to be at Valley of Fires early this coming November, but we've had to cancel that trip.  It's still on the list to go to when we get to do our Southern New Mexico down to Big Bend Trip we've had to postpone for October/November, 2018.
Fran & Tom/ 4 rescue cats - Peaches, Tipper, Snippet, Aja/2011 Winnebago Vista 30W/2008 4 door Wrangler 4X4

Wendy

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2018, 04:44:55 PM »
The end of June will be great at Mesa Verde. We summer in Cortez and rarely use the cooler in our house. July and August we get highs in the 90s, but it cools off into the 50s and 60s at night. And June is usually cooler. But weird weather prevails so anything is possible 😊 Give us a shout next year when you’re in the area. And add Hovenweep National Monument to your list of places to visit, time permitting. It’s 45 mikes west of Cortez, quieter than Mesa Verde.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
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AStravelers

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Re: Northern New Mexico
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2018, 06:48:21 AM »
FloridaFran,  Thanks for introducing us to the Hoodos and badlands in the Chaco Canyon area. 
Quote
Once we leave that/those areas, we're going to see stuff south of Farmington/Bloomfield - Chaco Culture NHP, Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, De-Na-Zin, and Bisti Wilderness Areas, Fossil Forest, and Burnham Badlands. Have no idea where we'll stay for these.
On one of our trips to the Northern NM area we will probably stay at Angel Peak and drive to visit these wilderness areas. 
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/