The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a National Scenic Trail from Mexico to Utah that traverses the whole north–south length of the U.S. state of Arizona. The trail begins at the Coronado National Memorial near the US–Mexico border and moves north through parts of the Huachuca, Santa Rita, and Rincon Mountains.
The trail continues through the Santa Catalina north of Tucson and the Mazatzal Mountains before ascending the Mogollon Rim north of Payson, eventually leading to the higher elevations of Northern Arizona and the San Francisco Peaks. The trail then continues across the Coconino Plateau and in and out of the Grand Canyon. The Arizona Trail terminates near the Arizona-Utah border in the Kaibab Plateau region. The 800-mile (1,300 km) long Arizona Trail was completed on December 16, 2011. The trail is designed as a primitive trail for hiking, equestrians, mountain biking, and even cross country skiing, showcasing the wide variety of mountain ranges and ecosystems of Arizona.
This trail is very much on our minds as we are increasingly drawn to exploring a little more Arizona! Tucson, Saguaro National Forest, Sedona, Flagstaff, The Grand Canyon - all have been siren songs and we're ready to give it a go.
We should probably back up a bit and talk about Bottomless Lakes here just outside of Roswell. It is yet another state park that has a great deal of physical beauty. The lakes are small but sparkling clear.
Coyote Creek State Park, about an hour southeast of Taos, is nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains along a meandering stream. Enclosed by a forest of spruce and pine, the small valley displays abundant wildflowers and beautiful fall foliage. The park is ideal for fly fishing, camping, hiking and birding.
This is one of the first New Mexico State Parks we set up camp in as full timers in the SW. It's out there - on a nicely improved road the camp lies between Eagle's Nest/Angel Fire and Mora/Las Vegas New Mexico. The roads are remote but easily accessible by any vehicle.
Perhaps it is because we were so new to this or perhaps the place is magical, this park enchants the Fearless crew to this day. Coyote Creek was being fished for cutthroat trout by campers and locals alike. The birding was the best we've ever experienced, from the hummingbird who flew up to greet us to the successful predator dangling a snake far above our heads (this is not okay by the way - never been to a place where snakes are being flown above out heads). All in all, the bird life resembled a scene from Disney, full color spectrum on display!
This park lies in the Sangre Di Cristo mountain range which is one of the longest ranges on earth. The range has 10 "14ers" and more than two dozen peaks that top out at 13,000 feet or more. Hiking, ATV rides, fishing, birding, skiing, and wildlife tracking are all activities to be enjoyed at Coyote Creek. The meadow wildflowers are beyond compare, particularly in early summer. In the fall a rafter of turkeys would wake everyone in the camp loop early in the morning as they foraged along the creek. You may catch a bird of prey carrying a prize snake in its talons. Right above your head. Three years later and this is still not okay.
The sites are really varied. In the elctric hook up loop, there are a couple of sites with shelter and shade covering. Then there is the row lined up along the creek which are exposed to the sun all day and are a bit closer together. The developed camping sites without hookups offer mostly shaded spots, some with shelters, some without. The roads aren't perfect, however, we had no trouble on the rutted roads in the bus. The cherry on top for us? The free WiFi that actually works!
We have used this as our home base for landing in TorC for 3 year now. Great park, lots of hiking, big water for a desert, and with the New Mexico camping pass comes out to only $4 a night for an electric and water site.
Three large camp loops along with many boondocking sites, including the beachfront, make this a great choice for both reservation and walk in campers!
Elephant Butte Lake is the largest recreational lake in New Mexico and plenty of people love to swim, boat, fish, and sail here. There is a large crowd that comes from Albuquerque, El Paso, and Las Cruces. There are many campers passing through on their way to winter in Arizona. And there are plenty of people who love the area for a winter retreat.
There are several shower and bathroom buildings located around the grounds - two in camping loops and two closer to the beach. They are older, however, they are mostly clean and have hot-ish water.
We mentioned the New Mexico State Park pass. This is an affordable way to spend time in the state, particularly if you are a full-timer. With the pass, hook up sites with sheltered picnic tables are $4 per night. Entry to the park and first come, first serve rustic sites are free. Campers can stay for up to 14 contiguous day.
Elephant Butte is just minutes from Truth or Consequences, NM where campers can find a camper friendly Wal-Mart, several chain food and local restaurant choices, and a few package good/convenience stores. The historic downtown boasts many hot springs spas with some of the best prices on mineral water soaks we've ever seen.
Come out for a weekend or stay for a full vacation, there's plenty to do and see at the Butte!
Trinidad Lake is a wonderful place to escape the crowds and establish a basecamp from which to explore the great outdoors. Miles of trails winding through ancient and interesting local history, and spectacular scenery provide visitors and nature enthusiasts with great outdoor exploration opportunities.
Trinidad Lake holds a special place in our hearts. We had finally made it to Colorado and it was absolutely spectacular! Even the Walmart parking lot had a view of snow capped mountains - a breathtaking site for a couple of Midwesterners. The State Park is just a few miles outside the town so we were able to find groceries, gas, and yes, even a Chinese Buffet.
Camping in Colorado is just more expensive than many other places. It is clearly worth it, however, it is a good idea to budget wisely. We purchased the Colorado State Park Pass that first year (2016) so that we didn't have to pay a daily per person fee of $7.00 on top of the camping fee. We received value as we returned again to the State Park later in the summer.
The lake itself is set deep in a ravine. Campers can hike down the rather steep rocky slope to fish the banks or head to the boat ramp and put in their fishing boat. The trails around the campground are excellent and you can find many trailheads from the park. There is an active bear community so the Ranger will check in with you on your site set up.
The staff was friendly and the sites were all in great condition. Most had shaded areas and many back right up to a view of the lake that will leave you fascinated. Fishers Peak looms over the small city of Trinidad. IN the distance you can see the Spanish Peaks. If you head West on Colorado 12 from the park, you can make a loop that will take you to other camps, historic sites, mines, and a scenic drive.
There is a ton of outdoor recreation to be had here in Trinidad and the surrounding area. It's just about 15 miles north of the New Mexico border through the Raton Pass. It's a bit of a climb. We learned a little bit about our first reactions to high altitude as well. Oh yeah - bring quarters for the showers! Experienced the terror of worrying about running out of quarters with fully lathered shampoo heads...
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