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Author Topic: Boondocking in the summer desert?  (Read 1754 times)

blw2

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Boondocking in the summer desert?
« on: June 07, 2016, 08:14:49 AM »
I'm pre-planning a trip out west from FL.
On travel days, I'm trying to ballpark where our stops might be.... based on a rough max of around 500 miles and 8 hours a day.  I can go longer but prefer not to....
BUT
some of these will put me in areas where there doesn't seem to be all that much around.

Looking at climate data (google for the weather at a certain location in JULY), it displays weather based on averages....
it seems that much of the desert while hot, cools down to low 70's or even lower at night
so
boondocking seems perhaps doable, if not planning to stick around anyway..... just a stop for the night.

An example.... white sands NM was landing as one general area that we might be stopping.  I was happy because DS had mentioned wanting to see it.  When I was looking at the map, I saw a road leading out into the dunes and marked primitive camping.  I was excited, till I found mention that this is for tents only...  I thought it would be really great to get out there and look at the stars

But I was figuring there seems to be a lot of open ground from Western TX and onward.....

Any tips or tricks in finding spots?
or other advice you can share in keeping safe and legal?
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
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elwood58

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2016, 06:25:00 PM »
Once you hit Arizona, you may not want to boondock unless you go North towards Sedona and Flagstaff.  The southern half of the state stays hot until the wee hours of the morning.  We are in Sun City West, which saw 118 degrees over the weekend.  Our motorhome was barely tolerable with both ACs running.
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Tom and Margi

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2016, 07:36:46 PM »
Many of us have attempted to warn you about deadly desert heat.  I, for one, give up!  Do whatever you want to do.  We don't seem to be able to sway your preconceived notions with warnings, so have at it!

Lou Schneider

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 08:36:21 PM »
Averages are just that - the actual temperature on any given day has a 50% chance of being higher or lower than the average.

You may luck out and find temperatures that will let you boondock especially in higher elevations.  Flagstaff, AZ for example is at 7,000 ft while Phoenix is 6000 ft. lower.  Temperatures are almost always significantly cooler in Flagstaff, but it isn't in the desert.  They get snow in the winter and have actual forests with trees.

I've lived out west most of my life, so I've never experienced a tropical hurricane.  Would you suggest I plan a trip to Florida when one is due so I can have the thrill of riding it out?  We're telling you the same thing about the desert heat.  Your call.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 08:54:42 PM by Lou Schneider »

halfwright

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2016, 08:53:14 PM »
As you are leaving Alamogordo going to White Sands not far past the entrance to the Air Force base on the right hand side there is a dry lake on BLM land that you can boondock in.

There is a lot to see in that area. Three Rivers Petroglyphs, the old town of Lincoln, Ft. Stanton, Museum of the Horse, Valley of Fires and a music center that I can't think of the name. Three Rivers has 4-5 RV sites with water and 50 amp electricity. It is BLM also so it is half price with the geezers pass.

As to the heat, you will be better off under the awning with a wet towel than you will be inside until it starts to cool off. If possible, stay around Ruidoso in the forest service campgrounds. Much cooler.
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530ktm

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2016, 09:08:32 AM »
No matter where you go in the desert during summer, it is too hot to enjoy unless you are a lizard. I can not imagine why you would want to do this at summer time.
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2016, 10:52:22 AM »
blw2....boy we are giving you a hard time, aren't we?  Sorry about that!!!  People who have not been in or around the desert Southwest, often don't realize just how miserable it can be.  And I mean miserable.

I have some ideas.

If I remember correctly you are coming from Florida and are doing a fast trip.  Why not start out on I10 and then at Ft Worth, jump up to I40 and come across that route.  Oklahoma City has an awesome tribute to the Oklahoma bombing.  We are not the type of people who seek out that sort of stuff, but it was extremely interesting and if I had kids your kids age, I would take them. 

Continue on to Albuquerque, NM.  Around Highway 491 and I 40 is a historical trading post.  I forget the name of it right now, but it will come to me. (maybe)  On I 40 in Holbrook is the petrified forest and the painted desert.  Then if you go north on 191 you can visit "Canyon De Chelly National Monument.  This is a great place with a campground where you can boondock for something like $10.00 or so.  Get back onto I 40 and just outside of Flagstaff are several things to visit: the Grand Canyon, Wupatki  National Monument and "Craters of the Moon" which is where a crater landed.

If you are thinking of going on to California, the elevation will drop out of Williams/Flagstaff and the weather with be HOT!!!  I would suggest going north on 89 up toward Page and the "Escalante Staircase on towards Zion Nat'l Park and Bryce.  You'll have to check the temps there.  I'm not as familiar with the weather there in the summer.  Both Zion and Bryce have campgrounds.  These are beautiful and unique National Parks.

As far as boondocking, sometimes it's hard to find a place to just pull over that are unique and fun with star gazing etc.  You can boondock in Walmart, Cracker Barrels and Flying J/Pilot.  There used to be a book called National Forest Campgrounds where you could look up campsites and gather information.  I'm not sure that is still available.  But many of the National Parks have some sort of campground: sometimes dry camping and sometimes full hook-ups.

These are just ideas.  And more food for thought.

Marsha~
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JDOnTheGo

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2016, 10:53:54 AM »
Oh.. I dunno... it is warm here but it is a dry heat!   ;D

If staying near Alamogordo, consider staying up in the mountains near Ruidoso or Cloudcroft - much higher elevation and much cooler during the day and White Sands is not a super long drive.  No matter where you are in the southwest in the summer - aim for higher elevation, as noted by others.  FreeCampsites.net is a good boondocking resource.

In the high desert, the temps do fall at night but it doesn't really start falling until 8-9pm-ish or so.

Carry LOTS of water.  While sitting enjoying the 100-110 degree heat - you need to be drinking far more than you can imagine.  This often seems odd to easterners because you do not feel like you are sweating all that much (it is evaporating very quickly).  Headache or chapped lips - probably dehydrated.

I would work REALLY hard to avoid the low desert (Tucson, Phoenix, Lake Havasu, Yuma, etc.) during the summer.
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2016, 10:57:15 AM »
Found the name of the trading post:  Hubble.  Here is the website:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubbell_Trading_Post_National_Historic_Site

Marsha!
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UTTransplant

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2016, 11:37:00 AM »
Gotta agree with JFNM about low deserts, summer, and boondocking. The average temps at night may be 75, but that will happen at 5:00 am. Temps at 10:00 pm will be 85-90 at the coolest. Some people can handle sleeping in that, but I can't. I love deserts, but I hit anything below 4-5000' in spring and fall, not summer. The summer gets high deserts, above 6000'. Even those can get really hot so I search for electrical sites.

Marsha's recommended route has a lot going for it. There are lots of good tourist sites and reasonable campgrounds along the way.
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JDOnTheGo

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2016, 11:49:21 AM »
Oh.. one other thing Brad.  You are getting close to the monsoon season.  That is a time to be very careful boondocking in low lying areas.  When those desert thunderstorms dump water, they dump a LOT of it and the flash floods can be pretty exciting.
JD - Full timer out west
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Gizmo

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2016, 12:19:32 PM »
Once you hit Arizona, you may not want to boondock unless you go North towards Sedona and Flagstaff.  The southern half of the state stays hot until the wee hours of the morning.  We are in Sun City West, which saw 118 degrees over the weekend.  Our motorhome was barely tolerable with both ACs running.

Agree with this and even Sedona is likely to be too uncomfortable to boondock in summer, at least for us. 
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richardhufford

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2016, 12:30:30 PM »
My only RV experience so far is reparking my motorhome in my own driveway, so don't rely on my judgement, but if you're tired of freeways, U.S. 60 from Socorro, NM west is an excellent highway.  I remember Datil Well campground as being a nice place, and I see that the high temperature is supposed to be 86 today.  (It's supposed to get up to 104 in Safford, AZ today.)  I would head north to I-40 at some point rather than go all the way to Phoenix--If I were to drive to Phoenix today, I'd be complaining about the heat all the way, but the last 50 miles or so is unbearable!
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blw2

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2016, 02:22:56 PM »
some useful suggestions here, thanks!

I've printed this thread out so that I can look at some of these routes and places more closely when I get some time.


No matter where you go in the desert during summer, it is too hot to enjoy unless you are a lizard. I can not imagine why you would want to do this at summer time.

two reasons - kids are out of school and my wife's work schedule is more manageable then.
It's not really my choice, just trying to make lemonade out of lemons!... and doing preparation like a good boy scout.

Marsha, I have actually been looking closely at that route up to I-40 and over for the trip out.  I look at your suggestions, thank you!
.... one thing... not too far form that trading post, is the petrified forest.  That was one of the areas I was roughly looking at stopping for a night.... and that prompted this post!  There are two gift shops there that allow RV parking.  I'm guessing dry...

The weather there today for example is reporting 91 and 10% humidity (I'm mid nineties here at home right now with about 40-50% humidity) so that's doable!  The hourly forecast I'm looking at has it cooling down to approx 76 before 10PM

Just an example of what I'm seeing with some spot checks, that prompted my post and request for help....
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
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'06 Silverado
'05 Rockwood Freedom 1910 (5-1/2 years)
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Boondocking in the summer desert?
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2016, 09:54:32 AM »
Quote
That was one of the areas I was roughly looking at stopping for a night.... and that prompted this post!  There are two gift shops there that allow RV parking.  I'm guessing dry...

I would call those places to be sure you can camp overnight, just because they say RV parking allowed does not always mean "overnight".

I neglected to mention that Zion and Bryce will be hot, mostly Zion.  But both have electric hookup in the campground so you can run the A/C.

Keep planning, you'll get it worked out.

Marsha~
2017 Heartland Mallard IDM231 Travel Trailer....Small but mighty.

 

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