Very nice photos. Thanks for sharing!
Very nice photos. Thanks for sharing!
What a night! The shifting wind broadsided the van - all night long! No cooking in camp this morning, not with Carrizozo only a few miles away. We had a yummy breakfast burrito at Raylee’s. Nearby is the town of White Oaks, a semi-ghost town from the 1880s, that we have meant to visit on previous trips in the area. For a windy day this was a good option, only a short drive away. The area includes a well-maintained cemetery, and several substantial buildings.
White Oaks school
As we continued south on US 54, towards Alamogordo, we came back to Rick’s book, as part of SST #1 (p. 22). The side trip to Three Rivers Petroglyph Site (BLM), on page 35, is a MUST! On site is a small visitor center, picnic area and campsites. A short trail winds through some amazing petroglyphs, luckily the wind here was tolerable to be able to enjoy this walk.
In Alamogordo we drove up to the New Mexico Museum of Space History, not to visit the museum, but to hike a short trail we had recently been told about, Indian Wells Trail. The trail starts from the east side of the museum’s parking lot and was an enjoyable walk. For those who are space enthusiasts, a visit to the museum would be worthwhile.
As we headed east on US 70, and along SST #1, the wind returned! This made for a very quick visit to White Sands National Monument (NPS), page 35, basically to get the NPS passport stamp. However, some visitors were planning to rent the boards and go sledding on the gypsum dunes - not for me!
Continuing on US 70, towards Las Cruces, we took a side trip into the Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks National Monument (BLM). We had hoped to camp at Aquirre Springs Campground, within the monument, but the wind was continuing, so we chose to stay at Quality Inn & Suites. We did visit the Dripping Springs area which has a nice visitor center, picnic area and several trails. However, the wind also kept this visit short. The views in the area are beautiful.
On our way into Las Cruces we made a quick stop at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum for the El Camino Real del Tierra Adento National Historic Trail (NHT) passport stamp. As on previous visits a Great Horned Owl roosts over the entrance to the museum. He appears to be sleeping on the job as their ‘doorman’.
Great Horned Owl
Before checking into our motel we went out to the rest area, off I-10 eastbound, to check out the giant roadrunner sculpture. We recently learned that the sculpture was made from recycled materials, initially constructed at the city landfill. It was eventually moved to the rest area and even has its own website. We have stopped at this rest area many times, noticed the sculpture, but never got close enough to realize from what it is constructed. Very cool!
Yep, those are crutches!
After a quick stop at a grocery store where we picked a roasted chicken and side dishes we retreated inside, out of the wind.
Great tailed grackle
Red tailed hawk
Last edited by Pmount; 05-02-2018 at 06:43 PM. Reason: Adding owl
Even stronger winds and cooler temperatures were predicted for today. We had decided this would be a good day to drive up to Gila Cliff Dwellings NM (NPS), as the drive into the area might be more protected. The original plan was to end the day in Silver City, however the night before I learned that there was a pro bike race, The Tour of the Gila, in town. Motel rooms were filled or overpriced. Today’s course was an open stretch of highway south of town, I can’t imagine that was any fun!
We decided to head west on I-10 to Deming, then north on US 180 to NM 61 to City of Rocks State Park. This put us back on a scenic side trip, SST #2, p. 37, actually on an alternate route. With it being Friday and the bike race in the area, we chose to secure a campsite early, then head up to the ruins. We were able to get a great site, on the east side of the rock features, a bit protected from the wind.
We continued on NM 61 to Mimbres, where we picked up The Trail of Mountain Spirits, p.43, to Lake Roberts and part of SST #2. This is a delightful drive which gets prettier and prettier. While stopping to get a picture of the sign I found these tiny daisies.
Stemless Townsend Daisy
Continuing on NM 15 we saw a few bike riders checking out the course for Sunday’s ride. Signs were along the route warning of the route coming through the area on Sunday, glad we will be out of the area. Once at the visitor center for Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument we tracked down some new NPS passport stamps before hiking the 1 mile trail to the ruins. This is a very enjoyable hike, first crossing the Gila River, then following a small stream before climbing up to the ruins.
Artifacts in the visitor center
Trail across the Gila River
False Solomon Seal
Ruins with people for scale
We drove back the way we came, stopping in Mimbres for an early dinner at Restaurant del Sol for some tasty Mexican food. I thoroughly enjoyed their Huevos Rancheros, they serve breakfast all day. Most of the day the wind did not bother us, and our campsite was well protected from the strongest wind. We enjoyed watching some wildlife in the campsite.
City of Rocks State Park
Curved billed Thrasher
Love the roadrunner sculpture and the other bird photos.
Thanks for the continuing report.
I'm enjoying this, following along on your trip through all that familiar territory. I love the City of Rocks; hope to do some camping there myself next time I go through the area. Sorry to hear about the wind! It was blowing like a son of a gun when we were in Albuquerque and Santa Fe the week before last. Gusts as high as 70 mph, and it was pretty relentless. Sounds like you're getting more of the same. Be careful out there!
Great night camping, nice sunshine warming up the van nicely and NO wind! Finally got to enjoy an extended morning in camp.
Another day of travel not part of Rick’s book, but still exploring the backroads of New Mexico. We returned south on US 180 with a quick stop in Deming. I was surprised to run across the old Custom House, built in the mid 1800s, and off the main streets. It was the Port of Entry until 1900.
Custom House - Deming
We went out to Spring Canyon State Park, SE of Deming, for a short, but steep hike on Lover’s Leap trail. This is a day use park, near Rockhoud State Park which does have camping. I had hoped to see some flowers, but it has been so dry this winter that I only had views to enjoy.
Spring Canyon SP
Longhorn in Spring Canyon SP
We ended the day further south in Columbus at Pancho Villa State Park, in Columbus, NM. New Mexico state parks have great campgrounds and are reasonably priced. Last night, at City of Rocks SP we paid $10 for a secluded site, with access to showers. At Pancho Villa we paid $14 for a site with water and electric and a very nice shade ramada. Besides having historical structures scattered throughout the camping area there was this colorful water tank near the group picnic area. This site interprets the invasion of the US by Mexico in 1916 as part of the Border War (1910-16).
Judge Advocate’s Office - Camp Furlong
Water Tank Mural
Without wind we could enjoy a relaxing afternoon and evening in camp with some birdwatching.
Black tailed Jackrabbit
White crowned sparrow
Curved bill thrasher
White winged dove
Day 8 & 9 - 4/22 - 23/18
We woke up, eventually, to an overcast sky. Sounds strange, but this Desert Rat appreciates a cloudy morning. We took our time in camp before heading west into Arizona. Again another day not featured in Rick’s book, and not a lot to see before leaving New Mexico. However, we love NM 9 as a great alternate to I-10, which ends on I-10 between Las Cruces and El Paso. Along the way we crossed the Continental Divide hiking trail, 3,100 miles long, reaching from Mexico to Canada. The season for this National Scenic Trail is just beginning, however we did not see any hikers crossing the highway. The trail section through southern New Mexico, crossing NM 9, is desolate, at best.
CDT kiosk & trail
We continued back into Arizona arriving in Portal, on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains, in time for an early lunch at the Portal Peak Lodge Store and Cafe. This store, restaurant, and lodge is ‘birding central’ for one of the premier birding hotspots in the United States. This was evident when we arrived at the campgrounds and found only one site available on a Sunday. Luckily it was one we had stayed at before and found it suitable for the van and bird watching. There are three campgrounds in Cave Creek Canyon, one that is primarily for tent campers, the other two are suitable for tent camping or small RVs/Vans. We set up camp in Stewart Campground, did some exploring, then settled in for a relaxing afternoon and morning. The stream, Cave Creek, was flowing nicely (for SE Arizona), and only a few steps from our campsite. The temperature was perfect for the evening and morning, and great for sleeping.
Cave Creek Canyon
Coues White-tailed Deer
Rivoli’s (formerly Magnificient) Hummingbird
We left the campsite by late Monday morning and drove north to pick up I-10 near San Simeon. From there it was a direct drive on I-10 back home.
Note: One more installment of this Road Trip Report will be made.
Coues White-tailed deer
Black and White Warbler
Hairy Woodpecker - heard
We returned to Tucson on Monday, 4/23 from our week long New Mexico trip with plans to head back to the Chiricahua Mountains, the west side for a long weekend. I have been volunteering with Parks in Focus, a program for middle school-aged students based on photography - kids, cameras and nature. Their weekend camping trip was planned for Chiricahua National Monument. We went down a day ahead and ended up returning to Rick’s book along SST #5 ( p. 75) & 6, (p. 89).
Near Benson, on I-10, we headed south on AZ 90. Before reaching Sierra Vista we saw an unusual sight along the highway. Southern Arizona is known for its dry climate, which makes it ideal to ‘mothball’ military planes. This one appeared to be leaving Fort Huachuca and heading north on AZ 90.
After grabbing lunch in Sierra Vista and several photos of buildings which had housed post offices over the years we drove east on Charleston Road (AZ 82), crossing the San Pedro River at Fairbanks Historic Townsite. This is part of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (BLM), which has trailheads leading to a number of historic buildings. From this area there is a short trail leading to some petroglyphs.
Once in Tombstone we stopped for quick picture of the current Marshall’s Office, which we recently discovered had previously housed a post office.
Tombstone Marshalls Office - former post office location
In Tombstone we followed AZ 80 (old US 80) to Bisbee where we took a photo of the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, which had been an early location of a post office.
Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum
On our way out of Bisbee we went through Warren, one of several small communities associated with Bisbee and the local mining history.
We set up camp in Bonita Campground within Chiricahua National Monument, a favorite park and campground, and great birdwatching.
Yellow-eyed Junco - the evil eye?
Coues White-tailed Deer