Located just 14 miles southeast of Roswell, Bottomless Lakes State Park is your place for bottomless fun! Enjoy non-motorized boating in your kayak or canoe, camp, fish, picnic, swim, hike, go birding or even scuba dive!
The unique lakes at this park are sinkholes, ranging from 17 to 90 feet deep. The greenish-blue color created by aquatic plants is what gives the lakes the illusion of great depth.
We stayed here once in November for a couple of weeks. Now, the time of year probably played a big part of the negatives of the park. You can see Jaco above on his chair which is on a rug. The goatheads were just crazy abundant here. All the dogs were having a difficult time dealing with that. The other issue was a black fly invasion that rivaled Amityville Horror. Again, the season may have been the biggest culprit but, as one camper pointed out, we were also very close to some industrial cattle farms.
The good was really good though! The historic buildings - particularly the beachfront structure - are beautiful. Amazing trails lead to gorgeous small lakes for a moderate hike. For people with assessability issues or who need a shorter hike, there is a lovely new wetlands boardwalk The proximity to Roswell is a real plus as well. We were charmed by what we saw in Roswell - really nice folks there as well!
We would love to stay at this park at a different time of year - perhaps spring when the beach opens!
The Fearless Bus crew recently watched Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, New Mexico episode. In it he described it as a mix of people including the folks who have been here for centuries, newer European immigrants, people who came for health along what we call the Tuberculosis Trail; and the influx of artists of all kinds.
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.
This is one of our favorite places and we make at least a short stop at Riverside (Caballo Lake State Park). It lies just below the Caballo Dam along the Rio Grande - it is not listed separately from Caballo Lake State Park, however, it is a bit further down the road.
This campground offers green grass, a low number of goathead thorns (always an issue in this area of the country), and the ability to boondock along the river without giving up things like showers and electricity.
The campground has a nice variety of hook up sites, either back in or pull through, tent or boondocking sites, and a rally site for larger groups. There are two bath/shower houses. The park is open year round.
The photo was one taken just south of our campsite early in the morning. Lovely to site this family of deer!
This is the final video for my 2018 CDT experience. It was an amazing experience, although truncated. by injury, fire, and other shenanigans. For me it was more difficult pulling these videos than actually hiking the trail. I felt more at peace on this trail than I have in years.
As this journey came to an end, another began. But my mind and soul everday remembers the experiences of this trail.
Nothing ever goes as planned. No matter how much research and YouTube binging you do on any subject, having the experience is always, always profoundly different. The start of my CDT thru-hike did not defy this expectation. One minute I was visualizing in my head being there, the next minute I was there with 85 miles of desert between me and the next McDonalds. It would be a long way to go.
I know people stack up waiting their turns to get into the "big" parks - Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier, etc - and I am eagerly awaiting seeing those parks. However, it is amazing how nice some of the smaller state parks are, how inspiring and grand they can be.
Tucked way up in the northeast corner of New Mexico is where you'll find the town of Clayton, NM, the Union County Seat. Every time we've traveled from Texas, we've come in through Clayton. We've been through a few times now, but have only had a chance to stay at Clayton Lake State Park once. Normally we like to get a bit further into the state before setting up camp, however, Clayton Lake is small and remote enough to discourage some of the more problematic recreation areas that lie right on the TX/NM border.
Yes, it is quite a long drive from the town out to the campground and lake. This is a very remote location. Clayton Lake is home to relics of the past and visions of the future - walk the dinosaur track field during the day and head to the observatory at night to take in some of the very best stargazing the southwest has to offer. Clayton Lake was the 2nd NM State Park to receive an observatory- complete with rolltop roof and a 12” Meade RCX400 computer-driven telescope. For such a small camping outpost, the payoff is well worth the trip.
We are pretty familiar with the New Mexico state park system but are still learning about how crowded parks might be, where reservations might be necessary versus where walk up is a pretty sure thing. We'd have been bummed if we took that trip out to Clayton Lake only to find it full. Well, it was full. We drove around the campground and down to the lakefront. A Ranger came out to greet us and immediately offered up a solution. He put us in the unused group site for one night at a regular rate. We remain so grateful for that accomodation!
Although the campground was full, it was extraordinarily peaceful. Patrick hiked out to see the dino tracks while Jaco and I (Kris) hiked around the hilly trail down to the lakefront. We hung out in the group picnic area and had a blast. The campground has a decent shower/bathroom facility. Unfortunately we were unable to visit the observatory as it was closed when we camped there. The naked eye and that night sky provided an incredible show of stars and milky way that stretched on forever.
Highly recommend for those of you who enjoy solitude, peace, and a gorgeous night sky.
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!
It is always a great day when you acquire a new favorite word! Often during our bus rides I have opportunity to just sit and think.
We left Coyote Creek to the last of the golden Aspen leaves blowing on the wind. It was a paint with all the "Colors of the Wind" moment if you get the reference. Hard to leave this place but the knowledge that they pulled the plug and shut off the water on Halloween morning prompted us to get up and head down the mountain that Sunday before.
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!
So after James and Jonathon spent an entire evening helping us out, we ended up staying over at the Days Inn the night before the election. Side note - it was a great Days Inn, super breakfast, didn't charge us for the dog, king size bed, first floor. Really great.
Today I say farewell to Truth or Consequences and start the trip to Crazy Cook. We've been here about 6 months which I've put almost training 500 miles along the Rio Grande. Along the way I've taken photos of some of the sights and put a few together in this video, please enjoy.
Well, I gotta tell you, it's hard to argue with spending the summer in southern Colorado! Even though we were far out of range of all of the internet, all of the television, all of the cell phone ranges (well, sometimes a bird would flyover....) we had a fine time. So here we are and Jaco's chillaxin right next to the Rio Grand. This is the lovely Riverside area of the Caballo Dam Campgrounds, part of Caballo Lake State Park. There was a Chilli Challenge going on so we were forced to boondock and it was quite nice!
Hillsboro was founded in the 1870's after gold and silver were discovered in the surrounding Black Range. The town developed into an important mining and ranching center, and served as the Sierra County seat from 1884 to 1939. It was the site of several renowned trails, and is said to have had the last operating stage line in the United States.
This is a beautiful and interesting little semi ghost town on the way up to the Gila National Forest. There are still a couple of hundred people living here but you can see ruins from the jail and courthouse as well as tour the mining museum. It's a great day trip or overnight stop on your way down the road. You can check out Hillsboro RV Park for both low cost hookups and the opportunity to rent a vintage RV. The rates for camping are quite reasonable at between $12 and $16 per night depending upon your hookup needs.
Outdoor recreational opportunities are all around you up in HIllsboro. You are very close to the high leg of the CDT through the Gila, very close to Emory Pass, you could try your hand at panning for gold in the Percha Creek or go take photos from the old high bridge left behind after construction of the highway.
Things in town wrap up pretty early, so get your eats in before 3:00 p.m. Get your drinks over at the Black Range Vineyards but you probably want to do that before 6:00 p.m. There's a mining museum, artist displays, a rock hound store, among others.
Because there wasn't enough cooking for Thanksgiving, we decided to take on Pocket Soup, one of those pioneer recipes that sounds like the perfect trail food to try making at home. It's a multi-day process so we decided to do this over the holiday weekend and see what happens. We went with the simplest recipe - beef, water, air. And a crockpot. So here you go, beef Pocket Soup. If you have questions, we've included the video that was our inspiration. As we watch it a few times we get used to the outfit...
Well this week sees us back in one of our very favorite states - New Mexico - and absolutely one of our favorite mountain ranges, the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Taos. Although we can barely breath up here it still feels like a load is lifted when you step out and gasp for that first deep breath of mountain air. Gorgeous.
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