Monday, July 30, 2012

Sightseeing trip to Cibola National Forest

I went for a drive a couple of days last week with Hazel and Cari, my friends from last winter at Quartzsite.  They are great about sightseeing and learning about the surrounding areas and pretty knowledgeable about American Indian history.

A week ago Sunday we drove to the Cibola National Forest and made a large loop through some of the Indian Reservations and checked out some campgrounds in the area.  It was a grey rainy day, so we didn't get out to walk much, but the scenery was gorgeous.  We left at 10 am and didn't get back until a little before 7 pm so we were out for a long time.  I left Katie at home, and she did really well, no accidents.  Since I walk her four times a day now, I wasn't sure how she would do, but she's a trooper!

I'm terrible about getting and remembering locations, especially if I'm a passenger, so I can't really tell you where we went exactly.  We went down 40 and crossed the Continental Divide, driving through the towns of Thoreau, Prewitt, Milan and Grants, and visited one of the Visitor Center after Grants.  I got a good driving map of the area at the center to see where I could disperse camp if I decided to.  I can see why boondockers are upset at the new regs.  There sure weren't many places to boondock in this forest area that were legal. Wow, very few - three or four places in the whole, huge Cibola National Forest.  I was surprised.  The Ranger said each area is different.  I sure hope so. 

We drove through Acoma, Navajo and Zuni Indian Reservations, through National Forests, BLM areas and El Malpais  (Lava Beds).  We took highways and improved dirt and gravel roads.  It was a long, interesting, beautiful drive, but because of the rain I didn't take too many photos. This camera doesn't do as well as my Nikon that's in the shop, but I got a few good ones when we got out of the car.

Some photos from that day trip:

 Arch in the mountain.

 Cari standing on the ledge overlooking a large valley. 
The view was gorgeous.

 This is the same place as the photo above, looking in a different direction.

 Close-up of the photo above looking across the valley.

Cattle sheltering from the rain under the trees.

 Val, Hazel, and Fleur where we stopped to check out a trail head.
Beautiful rock formations in this area.

 Lava Beds - this was driving through El Malpais.

Then on Friday afternoon we took a shorter trip to check out some campgrounds closer to us.  They are near the town of Grants, Forest Service campground/picnic areas. The first one we visited was Coal Mine Campground where you can stay 14 days for $5/day, or $2.50 with the Senior Pass. It was a nice clean campground with good, level sites.  It was small, 15 sites, and in a very pretty area with picnic tables, restrooms, and a nature trail. There was a woman with a car eating at one of the tables, and another campsite had a couple with a car just standing there talking.  No campers.  No RVs or tents.  I would have loved to stay there next, but it was too remote, too empty and had no Verizon bars.  Too bad. 

Then we drove to Lobo Canyon Campground on our way out along Lobo Canyon Road back toward Grants.  It was not as well kept as Coal Mine, and a little further off the road. There was no one there. It would be perfect for a group of people wanting to camp for a reunion or weekend camp out. They'd have the whole campground to themselves.  It has six sites, picnic tables and restrooms, and is a free campground, but the sites are not for big rigs. Better for smaller rigs and tents.

Of all the campsites we drove through last week, we only saw a couple of tents and RVs.  It worries me that these public camping areas aren't being used - I'd think, especially with this economy, more families would be camping on their vacations. Especially in July, and at $5/night or free!

Hazel and Cari left on Sunday, heading to Arizona to visit a friend.  I'm camped in a different campground area here at the lake than where they were, and didn't see them every day, but it was nice to know they were nearby.  I'll miss them both.

Below are photos of the lake during the week, and then during the weekend.  What a difference!  I enjoy watching the rigs and tent campers drive in starting Thursday afternoon, and then most leaving Sunday.  When the shoreline is full, it's really pretty at night now that we can have campfires.  Almost every rig/tent area has a campfire and it's nice to look down and see them all lit up in the dark.  I tried to take some photos, but they didn't come out. (You'll have to imagine it.) 

During the week, there might be a couple of rigs on the shore, but it's pretty empty.  This weekend there were a lot of people fishing in the lake from their chairs on the shore, and some were wading in the shallow water.  Lot of kids playing in the water, too.  If you click on these photos you can see just how many rigs and trucks there are.

 Weekend view after I moved up to the site on the hill, Friday, 7/20.

 Weekday view, Sunday,  7/22.

This last weekend, Saturday 7/28.

This morning Katie and I walked down the hill and kept walking around the lake to the last rig you can see in the photo.  That's as far as the RVs can go.  I don't know how far you can walk, but I know you can't drive all the way around.  I couldn't believe all the trash on the beach left by the campers. Some of the rock fire pits were full of bottles, cans and garbage.  Who do they think cleans up after them?  Broken bottles on the sand - I found some big pieces and put them next to large rocks so no one will walk on them or drive over them. I didn't have any bags big enough to take them back to the dumpster. It sure would be nicer if people picked up after themselves - and didn't bring bottles to the beach. :(

I asked the Ranger if the same people came from one weekend to the next, and she said they are usually different. Some people who live close by come back from time to time, but for the most part every weekend has different people.  I guess that's why people leave so much trash - they aren't coming back and don't care how they leave the beach.  And although some are tent campers, most are RVers.  I think we're usually a good group as far as leaving our areas as we found them, or better.  I've seen the campground workers down there almost every day checking the area and picking things up. It's an on-going job, that's for sure.

This little bunny has been visiting our site lately. He's pretty small and very cute:

And finally, here's a photo of last night's sunset.  There were rays of sunlight streaming up into the blue sky from behind the clouds. It was beautiful.  

From Me and Katie, have a great Monday, everyone! :)


  1. So sad that people will come out to enjoy nature and then trash the place. The new me generation needs to learn how to pick up after themselves.

  2. Way to go Katie. Six hours is a long time to hold it. So sad that people are such slobs. Sometimes I wish we could go to their homes and trash them.

  3. That is why they are called Weekend Warriors not RVers. They come up to have a big party and don't care about nature the way RVers do. Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  4. WOW Katie 9 hours for a wee dog. Good girl!! I agree such a waste on these people. Good thing you picked up the glass ...what if Katie stepped on a piece!!

  5. During our 2 workamping experiences where trash pickup was part of the job, we were infuriated by the litter people left on the shore while fishing or in the fire ring at their campsite. Very sad and hard to understand.

  6. Love the contrasting photos of weekday vs. weekend. Says it all.

  7. we've run into the weekend warriors...sad but the sunset pic great capture..way to go little darling..

  8. I don't understand people. But this is why so many places no longer allow camping. Or they raise the price. Like you said someone needs to clean up these mess's and that costs money.

    I'm glad you got to see some new places. Pictures are great.

  9. I can usually do one or two nights without phone and internet. The small campsites that are empty are probably because no one wants to be without the cell and internet service. I don't think I would want to be in an out of the way campground without a camp host or ranger around.

  10. Great Pictures! Enjoyed your blog very much.

  11. Learnig to live with the slobs of the world is trying and I'm afraid they will always be with us.
    The good side of people is sometme awesome. Your friends, Hazel and Cari are proof. Looks like you guys had a great day.
    Katie is a trooper, good girl Katie.
    Is that Greyhounds I see with Hazel? Interesting! Does she have a blog? Would be interested in how the GH fair in a RV.

  12. Full time RVing is a dream of mine. But husband has never RV'd in his life and doesn't plan to, so we have some compromising to do! I too have a dog Katie...she's a sheltie. I've wondered about full time RVing with a dog.. I'm guessing you leave the air on when you're out and she's staying home? Can't do that if you're at a rustic site can you? I have so much to learn! We camped as a family and as a kid I always wanted to be a full timer, still do. We'll see.

  13. great bunny picture! and what a sunset... one of my all time pet peeves is litter. I will report them... I will say something if I see it... I will probably get my lights punched out one of these days... but I can not stand it

    A beautiful little river ... two teenage boys ... BREAKING bottles on the rocks ... little kids would come and wade and could get cut...

    They were told to stop! they didn't ... police were called --- hooray for cell phones ... they were hauled off .. little rat bastards.

    I have no patience for people who think it's cool to trash this beautiful country that belongs to us all.

    Hi to Katie ;)


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