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Thread: Tucson to Taos

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Tucson, Arizona, United States

    Default Tucson to Taos

    Hi there!

    In a few weeks, we'll be driving to visit friends in Taos, NM.

    We'll leave on Friday afternoon, need to be in Taos Sunday night! We'll be driving out of Tucson east, then north through Safford, AZ. From there we want to head up on 191, and 180 to Glenwood NM, then 12, 32, 36, AND 117 past El Malpais and McCartys. From there we head up to Valles Caldera.

    Can anyone please tell me about camping possibilities along the way? We need to get out of the heat here but we're really on a budget, too. Thanks!

    Thanks in advance and Best Wishes,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    I really understand your need to get out of the heat. I have family in the Phoenix area and visit them usually three or four times during the summer, and I'm always glad to go back to the southern California area!

    Camping possibilities -- grab a map or atlas and see if you can find national and state parks or forests with the little green triangles on them. That usually signifies camping is available. Then look them up in Google, which will tell you what the campground names are and how to find them from the highway. (I wish I could be more helpful than that, but my two good atlases are both locked up in our truck, which is currently in the shop. Sigh.) Campgrounds will vary in what they offer -- some will offer only a site, a water faucet someplace near your site, and pit toilets, where others will have water at every site, flush toilets and even showers nearby, or just a combination thereof. When we tent-camped, we usually did so for 3-4 nights in a row, then found a cheap motel so we could shower. (I can remember being at a motel one night and cooking dinner on a picnic table on our campstove, and other tenants at the motel walking by and saying, "Oh, that smells like HOME!") We would eat a good breakfast before we left the campsite, and then eat a good dinner when we got into the campsite, only getting lunch if we felt like it. Or we'd eat a picnic lunch at a rest area (or inside the car, once when it was raining!).

    The art of the cheap road trip is an article on this site that might help you.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Few 'Specifics'

    While I can't tell you details about specific campgrounds, I can point you to the major sources of low cost (free, even, in some cases) sites. Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Cibola National Forest and Grasslands, and Santa Fe National Forest will be your three main sources of low cost camping. Dispersed Camping is usually free, but has absolutely no amenities - that's the point. Cabins are the 'luxury accommodations' of camping and cost accordingly. The beauty of national forests is that they cover a lot of ground both physically and in terms of options.

    Your next best option is state parks. Ones near your route and/or stopping points include Hyde Memorial and Coyote Creek in the Taos area (more or less), and Bluewater Lake near McCartys. Commercial sites would only be a last resort, particularly if you are tent camping, as those are generally set up as cheek-to-jowl RV parking lots.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-20-2014 at 10:12 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A great site.

    Here is a site you may find useful. I have found many camping spots along and near 191, as well as on other public lands along your route. Some are free. Those which are not are at a peppercorn charge.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Tucson, Arizona, United States


    thank you all. looks like we'll do the interstate to get there but we have more time to cruise on the way home. what are the best places to see around Glenwood, McCartys, Grants, etc? any artisan-y towns? special sites?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico


    Near McCartys is Acoma Pueblo, one of the oldest inhabited settlements in North America.

    Since youíre interested in camping, the Northwest NM Visitors Center in Grants would probably be a worthwhile stop for you. The Uranium Mining Musueum is also quite interesting.

    Driving along NM Hwy. 117 south of I-40, you will come to the El Malpais Ranger Station, the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook, and La Ventana natural arch.

    Iíve been along NM Highways 32 and 12 as far south as Reserve, but havenít had a chance to camp anywhere around there. Near Glenwood there is the Catwalk along Whitewater Creek, which was damaged during strong flash floods last year, but is now partially re-opened.

    In the same area there is the old mining town of Mogollon. Not sure how accessible it is right now. A section of NM Hwy. 159 was destroyed by the flooding last year. You would want to check on road conditions before driving up there.

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