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Old 12-03-2015, 04:47 PM   #1
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BLM's Not all trailer friendly

The Bosque is 78 miles from Albuquerque down the I-25 to the large town of Socorro, New Mexico, and then, another 11 miles to San Antonio. You turn off Rt380 at the Owl Café. You drive another 4 miles to the Bird Watchers RV Park or, you continue south right into the Bosque del apache Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s 12 mile driving loop is ideal for winter bird watching, when hundreds of sandhill cranes and snow geese fly in.

My original plan was to overnight at the aptly named Birdwatchers RV Park. It’s so close, probably ideal. But, at 4 PM this day the light was ideal for photographs. I drove right past the Birdwatchers campground and into the refuge. Free with the senior pass. There is no trailer overnighting in the wildlife refuge. There are four camping sites with hookups in the area besides the Birdwatchers RV Park. Plus, a couple BLM grounds. BLM?? Now I’m thinking, with an Escape, who needs hookups?

By 6:30 PM I am ready to pack up the tripod and hunt down them freebee BLM’s. First, must get a deluxe chili cheeseburger to go, at the San Antonio Crane Mexican restaurant, with fries. The Owl is cool, but The Crane is a place only the locals would know is great. Takes about 15 minutes when they’re not busy.

At seven it was dark outside. My destination BLM is a mere .7 miles outside the edge of town, past the flashing light intersection. You see a cattle guard in between a canal and the Rio Grande. You’re supposed to cross it, take the higher of two dirt roads, up a harsh, dust-dry levee. I couldn’t see. Me towing into this darkness looked totally like a disaster waiting to happen.

Risk assessment complete, I elected pass, and drove to the Socorro WalMart instead. The next day, after a pleasant morning back at the Bosque (the visitors center is also first rate,) I needed to go eyeball that ominous BLM location, and confirm last night’s decision. If thoughts of BLM camping conjures up benign images of convenient but Spartan open space for spontaneous overnight dry camping, as it did for me, I’m here to tell you, be careful what you wish for.

It is not a given that all BLM land is trailer friendly. Four-wheel drive truck friendly, yes. Not a given that BLM land will accommodate the most important thing you need to know. Talking about turning your trailer around. Once in, you still got to get out. Not a given. This was for sure the case in San Antonio.

I checked out both BLM’s in the area. Had thought to myself, hey, BLM—what’s not to like? The BLM in between the river and the canal in daylight revealed that its dirt road led down a very steep entrance road. Maybe not steep enough to jack-knife the cup off the ball, but looking too steep to drive back up towing a 19. In the dark could cause a roll-over. The other area BLM turned out to be nothing more than an endless gravel road with no place to pull off, and no way to turn around. I was able to finally do it some 4 miles in, when as luck would have it I came upon an abandoned old free-range cattle marshalling pen.

Moral of my story: BLM’s are great, unless they’re not.
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File Type: jpg Bosq121.jpg (125.1 KB, 54 views)
File Type: jpg Bosque1.jpg (122.3 KB, 59 views)
File Type: jpg CraneRest.jpg (68.4 KB, 58 views)
File Type: jpg BLM1.jpg (231.8 KB, 65 views)
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Old 12-03-2015, 05:06 PM   #2
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Well at least you did not get stuck in the cattle grate like you did before.....
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:24 PM   #3
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Oh, I thought the moral of the story was going to be: grab a deluxe chili cheeseburger when you can.

Yah, I thought after your previous experience with cattle guards you'd be staying as far as possible away from them.

You're lucky to live in that location where you can still be using the trailer at this time of year. Oh well, 5 more weeks or so and we can head down to Quartzite.

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Old 12-03-2015, 06:32 PM   #4
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The Cranes' deluxe chili cheeseburger was great but Sparky's in Hatch, NM still makes the mother of them all.


Drive, yes, but I will never ever step on another cattle guard.
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:33 PM   #5
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Oops...


Oh, by the way Ron, it was 23 degrees F in Socorro that night and 19 degrees at 6am at the Bosque next morning. I ran the furnace on propane at 65°F all night, no battery draw problems at WallyWorld. Then at midnight this guy near me decided to warm up his diesel for an hour.
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:37 PM   #6
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I went down what I think was the refuge road and it went on forever, one way I believe, and wondered where the cranes were. Finally found them. Glad I didn't have the trailer. Think their roads around there must be bad everywhere.
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Old 12-03-2015, 06:43 PM   #7
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With a sandwich like that, who needs heat, just ventilation.....
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Old 12-03-2015, 07:07 PM   #8
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We looked at a lot of BLM spots you could camp on on our trip to UT and CO. Determined that staying in an unseen BLM campground was okay, at least with an Escape as they are pretty small. To stay in any of the non established campground types would require scoping out first, sans trailer for any number of reasons.
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Old 12-03-2015, 07:43 PM   #9
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My worst camping road experience was in 1973 in Big Bend. We were driving my old '65 Ford Econoline Van made into sort of a homemade camper. (shown below with its very aerodynamic box at Padre Island) We started out down a road that lead to a campground. it started as gravel, then gravel gave way to bigger rocks, then even bigger rocks and sand. I think we averaged maybe 5 mph over the course of what seemed like several hours. It was clearly not where we ever should have ventured in the van.

We did eventually get to a beautiful campsite right on the Rio Grande. When we headed toward the other end of the road, finally got back to the main road, and there the road we were on had a big 4WD only sign. I wished that they had put one of those on the other end too.
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Old 12-03-2015, 07:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
...To stay in any of the non established campground types would require scoping out first, sans trailer for any number of reasons.
Here is a non-trailer BLM campground - rated as one of the best in Colorado.
9 sites; no trappings of civilization. Excellent area for trout fishing, indian artifacts, rock formations, canyon hiking, etc. A bit of a white-knuckle drive when you cross the 7400 foot contour.

Here is the write-up:
"Dominguez Campground: From Grand Junction - travel south on Hwy 50 to Hwy 141 west (7.5 miles), the turnoff will be on your right. Travel 11.5 miles to the Divide Rd turnoff (Forest Service Access Rd) on your left. The gravel/dirt road switchbacks until you reach the top. Once on top stay on the main road until you come to a Y in the road, it's approximately 6 miles to this point, go to the left towards the Dominguez Conservation Area. From this point it's approximately 5 miles to the Big Dominguez Creek Trailhead. Caution: Road becomes extremely hazardous in wet conditions. Watch for rock slides on last 2 miles of road leading to Big Dominguez Campground. We DO NOT recommend taking RVs or travel trailers to the Big Dominguez Campground."

--
Alan
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