Yeah.....Successful Exploration Weekend in the Jemez Mountains

Discussion in 'Boondocking' started by cwolfman13, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. Yar

    Yar Garland, TX

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    I remember back in the day, when I lived in Albuquerque, getting together with some friends on bikes and heading to a campground near Ponderosa that was always nice. It has/had open front rock shelters with a fireplace in the back, so we never had to take our tents. I sure do miss the mountains now that I'm stuck in the Dallas area.

    Great pics... sure makes a body homesick.
     
  2. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

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    cwolfman13 said:
    Was that stew Dinty Moore? [:D]
     
  3. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

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    Well....you have a plethora of options here. One you may want to consider if you don't mind a bit a driving....not a pop into town by any means, but:

    Vadito/Tres Ritos area - This is an absolutely gorgeous area with a number of forest service CG options. Depending on exactly which CG you're at, you're approximately 1 hr 40 min from Santa Fe and about 40 minutes to 1 hour from Taos. It's honestly been quite awhile since I've camped up here, but my buddy used to have a cabin in this area until he sold it a couple years ago. When I was a kid, we did quite a bit of the family camping in this area, but it's been probably 10 years or so since I've camped up here....here's a couple forest service CG suggestions.

    Santa Barbara CG (Vadito) - Always mom's favorite and really pretty....your basic developed forest service CG adjacent to the South Santa Barbara River and Pecos Wilderness. This is also a popular drop off/pick up point for hikers and horse riders going into the Pecos Wilderness as it is the closest access to Truchas Peaks....so it's not uncommon to see these folks coming and going through the CG. As I recall, it's 20 or 21 sites...something like that.

    Duran Canyon and La Junta Canyon (Tres Ritos) - Always dad's and my favorites in the area. La Junta particularly has more of a primitive/boondocking feel to it, as the CG stretches for a few miles up the dirt road. About the only thing I can recall that technically makes La Junta a "developed" CG is a couple vaulted toilettes and sites have tables. You may have some issues in Duran Canyon finding a site for the p'up as it's pretty small as I recall and the sites are quite small as well. You would have better luck in La Junta Canyon as there are numerous sites stretching up 3 or 4 miles of the canyon. There are a number of sites suitable only for a tent, but we always saw p'ups and TTs up here as well....probably a couple dozen RV/tent combo friendly sites in this canyon.

    Comales CG - Another primitive forest service CG. About the only thing that separates this from boondocking is that they have a vaulted toilettes and tables. Road is gravel/dirt...parking aprons are gravel dirt, etc. Note that vehicles with trailers should stay to the left as you enter the CG....the road to the right is not so friendly as I recall. Unfortunately, my primary memories of this CG revolve around road noise from Rt 75....otherwise, a beautiful place.

    Another worth looking into (I've never camped) is Agua Piedra CG.

    We've been meaning to get back up into this area and do a bit more exploring as well. I'm sure there are tons of dispersed camping opportunities I never noticed when I was younger.

    There are also a number of CGs within spitting distance (almost litterally) of Taos, but I've never camped them.

    Within spitting distance of Santa Fe is:

    Black Canyon CG - Pretty popular CG for folks visiting Santa Fe but wanting to camp. It is a forest service CG, but highly developed and they do take reservations due to it's popularity.

    Hyde Memorial Park - Ditto Black Canyon

    Other options, but a bit further away would be the Pecos...which has several more standard type, basic but devloped forest service CGs. I also haven't camped here in quite awhile because it's extremely popular and almost impossible to find a spot after Thursday evening/Friday morning. It's about 30 minutes from Santa Fe
     
  4. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

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    [LOL] [LOL] Naaaaah....actually, we just had a couple sacks of green chile roasted the weekend before ( took me and DW 5 hrs to peel them) so I made a big old pot of homemade green chile chicken stew before we left. It really hit the spot given highs in mid 60s and evening brrrrrr. Nothing like a nice bowl of green chile stew topped with cheddar cheese and a couple flower tortillas on the side.....and a toasty campfire to chase away the cold.
     
  5. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

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    I'll have to check it out. Actually, never heard of it. I just looked it up on the publiclands website and sounds pretty cool......even they have a little blurp about "have you visited this site before....if so, please comment".....which tells me a lot of people don't know about it.

    Very cool.
     
  6. ColoDisco

    ColoDisco Member

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    Sadly no I have not been in that area. Have been looking for some land which borders the north end of the burn area though. We want to move to the mountains pretty bad.

    I hear you on the freezing. First night in Poncha Creek we found out we left all our blankets and jackets at home nicely folded waiting to be put into the camper. We froze the first night. Picked up a cheap comforter for the rest of the trip which is now considered the camper comforter. [;)]

    Did you take any pictures of any sites?
     
  7. ColoradoChalet

    ColoradoChalet New Member

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    No...totally forgot my camera. Argh!
     
  8. ColoDisco

    ColoDisco Member

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    I find myself saying this about a million times before we leave the house: Don't forget the camera... Don't for get the camera... Don't forget the camera... Don't forget the camera... Don't forget the camera... [:D]
     
  9. teejaywhy

    teejaywhy Active Member

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    Wolfman - thanks for the stove info and the camping ideas.

    I'm thinking we may split up our visit - three nights near Santa Fe and three near Taos (+ or -)

    I've heard great things about the Red River area.

    I would also like to make the drive on 64 from Eagle's Nest to Cimarron, which passes thru the Philmont Scout Ranch, a place I visited as a 14 year old, many, many, many years ago.
     
  10. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

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    In that case, I would personally recommend the Pecos for being near SF. There are several forest service CGs in the Pecos and you're looking at probably 30-45 minutes from Santa Fe. If you arrive during the work week, you shouldn't have any problems.....it gets packed out on weekends though. Depending on the CG, you'll be anywhere from 30-45 minutes from SF. If you opt for Black Canyon or Hyde...these are literally minutes from SF proper.....reservations are highly recommended regardless of when you are to arrive....and I would look a good bit in advance.

    The Red River area is absolutely breathtaking, but also very popular. On the plus side, you can pretty easily make day trips to both Taos and Red River from any of the forest service CGs between Questa and Red River. Red River will definitely be a bit closer...just a hop skip and a jump from any of these CGs....Taos probably 30-45 minutes. Again, I would arrive during the week as weekends are packed in this very popular area.

    The Tres Ritos/Vadito area I mentioned are also pretty popular.....just not quite as busy as the Pecos or Red River/Taos areas.
     
  11. teejaywhy

    teejaywhy Active Member

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    Thanks and a hat tip!!!
     
  12. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

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    No worries [8D]

    Also....and I'm assuming you would not be all that interested given that you are in this particularly discussion area of the forum....but there is a KOA in Santa Fe as well as a couple of RV parks. Also a couple of RV parks in Taos. The KOA in Santa Fe doesn't look terrible.....just not my style by any means. I know absolutely nothing about the RV parks other than I've driven by and it would appear that you may as well sleep over at a Wal-Mart parking lot.
     
  13. Idahawk

    Idahawk " Esta Perpetua "

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    I got a pot of the green going right now , ever since I read that ive had the craving

    [:)C]
     
  14. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

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    How do you do your stew? Where do you get your chiles?

    We had a very modest harvest this year in Hatch, NM with the drought....you can usually hit up pretty much any market in town through the end of September and pick up a sack or two and have it roasted right there on the spot, but they're saying this year everyone should get it while the getting is good because the harvest was so minimal.

    I'm actually just getting ready to do a write up in the cooking discussion area.
     
  15. Idahawk

    Idahawk " Esta Perpetua "

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    Were not lucky enough to get the chili's up here. I made a Verde with beef basically. Tomatillos , beef , onion , added some tomatoes and let it simmer all after noon. I do have a tortilla press and make my own [:)O] we grubbed out .
     
  16. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

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    That sounds pretty tasty.....and nothing like homemade tortillas. I usually press my own, but occasionally I get lazy and just drive by the Albuquerque Tortilla Company and pick some up. They're pretty good too, but nothing like homemade. DW can always tell and gives me the stink eye when she realizes I went a bought some.
     
  17. ColoDisco

    ColoDisco Member

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    We usually have those roadside hatch chile stands around here. Look forward to getting some! [:)O]
     
  18. Travelhoveler

    Travelhoveler New Member

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    We stayed in a couple of places in the Santa Fe National Forest during our three week western trip from which we've just returned. We got to Santa Fe on the second day out from Tennessee and looked at Hyde Memorial State Park. Didn't much like it. The sites in the rustic area were muddy and had these wooden shelters that looked like they would harbor vermin. Some sites were pretty private but many were right on each other. The reservable section with hookups had everyone piled in right next to each other.

    We drove back down the road and found Black Canyon, a USFS campground just a quarter of a mile down the road. Nice place as far as campgrounds go, and only seven miles from downtown Santa Fe. We snagged a site there though we usually boondock simply so we could use it an easy base to see the city and nearby Pecos NHP. Paved aprons, clean vault toilets, fire rings, lantern posts, good tables. It was a great location for seeing the city though hardly wild camping. No hookups. I think it was $17 a night, which is exborbidant, but again, it's right outside the city. No problem finding a site first-come first served, but we were there on a Saturday night. It may indeed fill up on weekdays. (Hyde had plenty of sites as well but we were much happier with Black Canyon.)

    After a couple of days at Santa Fe, we hiked to see the ruins in the Tsankawi section of Bandelier NM then made our way through Los Alamos into the Jemez Mountains section of the Santa Fe NF. Stopped for a tour of the Valles Caldera National Reserve (an amazing landscape I remember from an earlier visit), then found a great boondocking site west of there off NM Highway 4 somewhere around the Redondo CG. Lots of excellent boondocking places in this area. There were a couple of campgrounds along there (Jemez Falls, Redondo) that we looked into but they were empty on a Sunday. I gather this section doesn't get much use.

    Lovely country, and I hope we get to go back soon. Would like to explore other parts of the forest like the Pecos district next time.
     
  19. cwolfman13

    cwolfman13 Active Member

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    @ Travelhoveler - Glad you had a good time playing in our forests.

    You're definitely right about Hyde....it's a reasonable area for day use, particularly if you're having a big picnic or something....and there are some nice trail heads that start there, but not really anywhere I would particularly like to camp.

    Black Canyon is much nicer and very close to Santa Fe. I think you may have gotten somewhat lucky here as many folks have/had cancelled reservations due to the Santa Fe NF was completely shut down most of the summer and just re-opened in early August. It was a bit confusing early on in the re-open as well because they didn't just say "ok the SFNF is re-oppened".....it was re-opened sections at a time and some areas remained closed while others had restrictions while other districts had no restrictions. This CG is also primarily used by SF tourists, and August tends to be somewhat of a down month for some reason....it's also usually one of the rainiest, so many I'm sure opt for the comfort of a hotel in town.

    In RE to the Jemez Falls/Redondo area....these CGs are usually pretty busy as are the Jemez mountains in general. Being only a hop skip and a jump from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, they are very popular with weekend campers and day trippers alike. Sunday is usually a great day to show up and have your pick of spots at pretty much any of the Jemez CGs as that is pack it up and leave day for us locals.

    That said, both the Redondo and Jemez Falls CGs remained closed even when the closures and restrictions were lifted in early August as these are both very near where the Las Conchas fire was. I had checked a couple of weeks ago and they were still closed....just checked today and it looks like they're finally open again....but I would imagine that is why they were empty when you saw them.

    There is absolutely awesome boondocking down a number of forest roads in the Jemez.
     

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