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Travels in a NV SMB


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#41 radin2son

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 02:51 PM

WHITEWATER DRAW WILDLIFE AREA and DRAGOON MOUNTAINS

We put off this trip many times since this fall, when the Sandhill Cranes (30,000) start arriving to over-winter in the Willcox Playa south to McNeal Playa in Cochise County, AZ. Whitewater Draw campground is a 5 to 6 “big” rig, fenced in corral with 2 picnic tables and a 2 seater pit toilet for campers and the many day users. Very clean, managed by AZ Game and Fish, no fee. The night we stayed there were 5 big rigs, 6 campervans/truck campers and 1 tent camper. Even if you are not a birder or photographer, this is an impressive sight. The cranes feed in the surrounding farm fields during the day and return mid afternoon to sunset. They leave again at first light. Many other birds as well...

No NV camper conversions. There were 2 4x4 MB conversions and a Transit conversion in the making. The tenter from BC, Canada was interested in our NV so I told him about the used one for sale. His comment was he couldn’t bring it into Canada due to regulations. We got to listen to various furnaces cycling on and off. Sandhill cranes are very vocal all night as well. 50* temperature swing; very cold.

We next camped on the west side of the Dragoons and crossed over from Tombstone to Pearce via Middlemarch Rd. Roughly 40 miles of very dusty dirt roads. (Check engine light will come on, code P0448.) We camped off Coronado Forest Servive Road 687. Dispersed camping and free. Narrow road and your NV will tangle with the mesquite trees. No need for 4x4 but clearance can be an issue. We opted not to take a washed out portion to get to a better camp site. Most are accessible. As you get farther in on FS 687, the rigs get smaller. This primarily is a beautiful area to hang out or hunt. Climbers love the rock and there is some hiking.

New to us was taking a Thetford 260. The collapsible toilet with bags ($$) was not a good option. We plan to do more dispersed camping rather than national parks or monuments. Way too crowded. Why the 260? Low height, as we only had 13” to work with. Just fits and I can slide it back under the lower bed. 2.5 gallon water tank for flushing, so it is heavy as well as low to the ground. Seek your own privacy... No odor if you empty it before driving off. We are using vinegar rather than chemicals so it can be dumped in a hole we dig.

Middlemarch Rd is a former cavalry supply route between Fort Bowie in the Chiricahua Mountains and the San Pedro Valley. Now it primarily is used by ranchers. Only oncoming traffic were cattle. Anything else would have been a problem.

2/12 Grass fires on 2/10 caused the evacuation of the area where we were camping. On 2/8 just south of Tombstone, there were 2 just ignited grass fires on the left side of the road. The heat was intense as we drove by. ADOT was calling in the second unaware there was another. All 3 were most likely human caused.

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Edited by radin2son, 12 February 2018 - 04:46 PM.

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#42 radin2son

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:01 PM

When looking for info on Whitewater Draw and Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, I came across this site. www.wheelingit.us

It provides state by state info (not on the mobile site) on boondooking, federal, state, county etc campgrounds and private campgrounds and RV resorts.

Their information seems to be accurate based on places we know.

Kofa is next on the list if the weather holds. Soon it will be too hot, as in Yuma heat...


Edited by radin2son, 11 February 2018 - 07:29 PM.

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#43 radin2son

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 01:44 PM

KOFA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

 

Quick trip to the mountains between Yuma and Quartzsite, AZ. This is a remote area you see on a map off I-8 or I-10 and drive on, unless you have a way to camp. No water, pit toilets, tables or place to get gas. All camping is dispersed and you have to cart out all trash.  For us, it was a go see it and camp off the main, dirt roads. For others, it is all about 4x4. 14 day stay in the refuge per year, but it is surrounded by BLM land.

 

On the way home, we stopped at Naked Dates, an organic date farm in Wellton, to get a date shake. If you have never had one, you have to... 

 

 

 

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#44 andy_george

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 03:02 PM

I love Rads photo posts. They make me laugh.... just like me, he loves scenery shots and an occasional vehicle pic. But my wife always insists that a human must be in every picture. We give each other crap all the time for that!:)

Thanks for the pics!

#45 radin2son

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 05:07 PM

You’re welcome. Fortunately, my wife hates having her photo taken and I’m at the wrong end of the camera. I have to catch her unaware. Even she agrees one of the best photos was of her looking at a glacier from the seaward side in AK.

Our NV is less reluctant...
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#46 radin2son

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 05:34 PM

Portal, AZ, EASTERN ENTRANCE TO THE CHIRICAHUA MOUNTAINS

Very easy to get here when traveling west on I-10 from New Mexico. Take the Road Fork, NM exit, route 80 and drive south. Driving east from Tucson, you can stay on I-10 to Road Fork, no services, just deserted buildings. You also can drive south on route 191 to Douglas, AZ and take route 80 north. Or you can take the 31 mile, dirt mountain road from the monument on the west side to Portal. If you are towing, stay on the pavement.

Beautiful area, perhaps more so than the monument. Cave Creek than runs by the 3 campgrounds usually has water. During monsoon season, July through September, the campgrounds will be evacuated if 1and1/2” of rain is forecast. Bears also in the area. Nearby trailheads and popular with birders.

All sites are first come first served. No hookups. Water available and pit toilets. Sunny Flat campground is the most popular and developed. 13 sites with room for 28’ trailers and tow vehicle. Steward has 6 sites and Idlewilde has 9. “Pull-in” sites with 16’ trailer limit. In Idlewilde, where we camped, it was “pull of the road” sites in the campground. Lots of shade.

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#47 andy_george

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 08:20 AM

Love your trip notes, Rad. It’s a dream of ours to take a trip from Michigan to the west coast and stop and see many of the places you recommend along the way. Work is very busy during the summer and with the kids in school the other 10 months, I’m afraid it will be a long time before we get the opportunity. But when we do, your posts will be the main advice we take along! Keep traveling!!

#48 radin2son

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 11:36 AM

Thanks.

We have changed the focus of trips to less developed, crowded areas, however, we still want to travel to Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Not sure when...

Part of the fun is planning. So when work, kids and school permit, you’ll be ready.

#49 radin2son

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 11:55 AM

ROCK CROSSING CAMPGROUND, MOGOLLON RIM, AZ

 

Last July/August, we stayed overnight here and nearby Blue Ridge campground on our trip to the mountains near Telluride, CO. We planed to return earlier but our trip was delayed by the Tinder Fire and closure of both campgrounds. Both reopened, but were day to day given extreme fire conditions "No fires, no charcoal and no shooting." On 5/23, the entire Coconino Forest closed until significant monsoon rain. We never really set up camp during the 5 days we were there. What came out of our NV went right back into our NV.

 

This campground is at 7200' off route 87 between Payson and Winslow. A 3+ mile well maintained gravel road takes you to the campground with 33 sites. Anything a NV can tow will fit with the exception of site 35 (2 sites are double). Blue Ridge Reservoir is down a 2 mile road from the campground entrance and is very popular with Kayakers. Section 27 of the Arizona Trail (Mexico to Utah) goes by the campground. We were there to walk our elder dogs on the trail and to hike a portion by ourselves.

 

There is water by the "vault" toilets, which I guess is more sophisticated sounding than pit toilets. Elk and deer will sometimes wander through the campground in the early morning and there are coyotes and black bear in the area.

 

This is a heavy use campground, but there is dispersed camping from route 87 for 2+ miles on the road to Rock Crossing.

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Edited by radin2son, 26 May 2018 - 04:38 PM.

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#50 radin2son

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 01:43 PM

WOODS LAKE CAMPGROUND, CO

Actually this is the return to Woods Lake, a much delayed return trip due to heat, fires etc. We kept monitoring InciWeb for forest fires and closures as well as weather reports. We finally decided to just take our chances, ignoring that it was 111* in Tucson and trying to pack for the Rockies. We gave up and got up the next morning at 0200 to pack. We headed toward El Morrow National Monument (9 free campsites that rarely fill, but are less than level) in New Mexico. 84* when we arrived and 57* in the morning. From here it is a relatively straight route, all excellent state roads, to Gallup, Shiprock, NM, Cortez, Dolores, CO, to Woods Lake campground (9470'). This is a beautiful area for camping, hiking, biking, fishing and kayaking. Rain and hail from Rico (CO 145) most of the way to our campsite. Temp dropped to 45*. Welcome to the Rockies. We had several nights that dropped to 41*.

Lots of sun until our last day. High altitude sun can be brutal. We set up our screen room for shade and for relief from flies. Very few mosquitoes. This past winter was warm and there was very little snow. Great for ticks. Protect your dogs. Speaking of dogs, this will be the last trip for our 15 year old Siberian Husky mix, mostly mix. Lots of slow walks along the irrigation ditch (dry).

Return route was through Norwood (7000’) a very much alive ranching/farming town. Bar, bank, post office, Ace hardware, Happy Belly Deli (deli?, good coffee and breakfast for locals' place), grocery store, motel, hotel with restaurant, laundry mat, gas station ($3+ a gallon) car parts store and most important for me, 3 bakeries. Also a new library and regional school. Too close to Telluride so home prices reflect this. We avoided Telluride and used Norwood for resupplies etc. On a map, Norwood looks like it is on the San Miguel River. From San Miguel Canyon, you climb up Norwood hill. Water is scarce and depends on part on the irrigation ditches, many dug by Basque sheepherders.

Took the Old Norwood to Dolores Rd. to head home. Paved on both ends with 36 miles of maintained dirt/gravel roads in between. Dusty but the check engine light did not come on.

We spent our last night at El Morro National Monument. 3 sites plus the handicapped open. 1 and 2 are unusable for NVs. Site 3 was ok. It was 94* with the sun setting. The other problem was ants, everywhere. Because it was so hot, we opened up all 5 "penthouse" windows, put the skeeter beater screens on the front door windows and attached the screen we made for the side door. At 0500, it was 55*. Ants must be late risers but soon found me at the picnic table boiling water for coffee. They even climbed up to the flame of our backpacking stove. Didn't even consider setting up our Coleman 2 burner...

Life in the desert vs life in the mountains. Extremes...

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Edited by radin2son, 11 August 2018 - 09:55 PM.

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#51 radin2son

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Posted 13 August 2018 - 10:31 AM

While we were at Woods Lake a fire northwest of Dolores, CO closed the San Juan forest. When we drove through the area the road was open, but everything west was closed. The road may be closed but you can get road info from the ranger stations in Dolores and Norwood.

A new fire started since then northwest of Nucla, CO about 15 miles west of Norwood.

I tried checking inciweb but it wouldn’t let me in. For anyone traveling and/or camping in the west you can pull up the forest or campground to see what fire restrictions and closures exist. You can also google “fires in (pick the state)” and get similar info.

#52 radin2son

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 10:07 PM

EL MORRO NATIONAL MONUMENT, NM, WOODS LAKE, CO, DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT, UT, 9 MILE CANYON, UT, LA SAL MOUNTAINS, UT, VALLEY OF THE GODS, UT and GOOSENECKS STATE PARK, UT

 

We made an unplanned, but expected return trip to disperse our dog's ashes at Woods Lake. Emotions aside, there had already been 2 dustings of snow and the low was 37. No rain or bugs.

 

Since we were already 600 miles from home, we decided to drive the 300 miles to Dinosaur NM. There is no direct way to get there. Lots of 2 lane roads through some interesting areas, some beautiful, some bleak. Our NV picked up another souvenir, a cracked windshield. A large semi with hay came around a blind corner, forcing a toy hauler to put 2 wheels onto the dirt. Voila! Green River is the main campground on the Green River. Loop B can be reserved, while A and C are first come, first served. Very little difference between loops. Loop A has less shade. Strict gray water rules.

 

9 Mile Canyon, known for its petroglyphs, west of Vernal and south to Wellington, is well signed, and now paved, from the south. Coming from the north gave us problems as we missed a sign and ended up on some very rough dirt roads in natural gas country. There is BLM dispersed camping in the high desert before you get to the canyon. Much nicer here than in the south, San Rafael Swell area, this time of year. 

 

It was in the 90s and windy all around Moab, so we took the Castle Valley-La Sal Mountains loop (43 miles) to get out of the heat. Mason Draw campground (8240') has 5 sites, only one flat enough for an NV. We were the only ones there. MTB heaven. 

 

Valley of the Gods, near Bluff, UT is a narrow 2 way dirt road with many wash crossing and places where you can not see the road over the hood. Tourists drive their rental cars here, but don't tow here. BLM dispersed camping. Too hot to camp this time.

 

We waited too long to go to Goose Necks SP. It was free dispersed camping with 1 pit toilet, maybe. Now it is $5 to enter and there are 2 vault toilets, ramadas and picnic tables. Camping is dispersed but will cost you... 1,000' down to the San Juan river.

 

1,935 mile trip, which put us over our 6 year goal of 72,000 miles. 

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Edited by radin2son, 17 September 2018 - 10:15 PM.

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#53 radin2son

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 01:05 PM

GRAND CANYON, NORTH AND SOUTH RIMS

The weather was warm in late September, and we decided to go to the north rim before it shut down on 11/1 for the winter. Since we would be in the area, we added the south rim as well. Both require reservations, but in reality you can just show up as there were plenty of empty sites in November. Pay attention to site size and direction of the one way loop roads to get the passenger side facing the picnic table and fire ring. Eyebrow sites generally are for RVs and back-ins for tents. No hook ups unless you want to pay $51 a night at Trailer Village on the south rim.

Getting to the north rim involves getting to US 89A whether coming from the I-40 or I-15 and taking AZ 67 for 45 miles to the north rim. On 10/21, a week before our trip, we were told second hand that there had been 5’ of snow on the north rim (source was a seasonal lodge worker) so I called and spoke to someone on the south rim. No number for the north rim. Could not confirm there was snow but there “would be snow in the campground. Trails were open but winter boots and crampons were recommended.” Cape Royal Road closed on 10/17 and it was unknown when it would reopen. With this information, we cancelled 2 days and added them to our reservation on the south rim.

As it turned out, it had snowed 5-6” on 10/15 and there was no snow left. Cape Royal Road was only closed a few days. So, we made the best of it. We were in site 7 which is basically flat and there was a ravine between us and the tent sites, which are on Transept Canyon. Absolutely beautiful. Trail heads are near by and dogs are welcome on the Bridal trail and Arizona Trail, the through trail from Mexico to Utah. Temps were supposed to drop into the 20s but the lowest was 32*.

It is 210 road miles from the north to south rim. It rained hard on our way. Travel day, so not a big deal. It stopped by the time we got to the entrance station ($35).

The south rim is easier to get to from Willams or Flagstaff off I-40. Take AZ 64 or the train from Williams or US 180 to AZ 64 from Flagstaff. If you are coming from I-15, you have a long way to go via I-40 or take US 89 or 89A to get to AZ 64 at Cameron. All nice drives.

Site 112 in Juniper loop was park it once, perfectly flat. Mather campground is 1+ mile to the rim, which was a great walk and dog friendly. A shuttle bus at the campground entrance will take you there as well. The shuttle bus system is excellent.

No photos do justice to what you see.

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Edited by radin2son, 07 November 2018 - 02:21 PM.

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#54 ASD Dad

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 10:03 AM

We LOVED visiting the canyon on our big summer trip we just took.  You are 100% correct that photos do no justice.  It is just jaw droppingly beautiful.  


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#55 radin2son

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 11:50 AM

You don’t have to hike into the canyon to enjoy it. We hiked trails on the rim and played tourist on off days. Hermits Rest rim trail is 7.5 miles, but you only have to do it one way or parts of it. The shuttle will take you up, back or pick you up at the many stops. We chose to hike up, ride back. No crowds.

The train from Williams used to be steam with a few passenger cars. Now it is diesel with many vintage cars. El Tovar Lodge in the background.

Better to stay in the campground for $18 a night or $9 if you have a pass. If you plan to go during the summer, you will need to make reservations now, north and south rims.

Another great side trip is to go though the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley or Hopi Tribal area (AZ 264) via Tuba City on US 160. Not sure which route ASD Dad took to Hubbell Trading post in Ganado.

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Edited by radin2son, 08 November 2018 - 12:10 PM.

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