Campsite Countdown – Reviews of the sites from the beginning of our camping adventures.

Looking back at the campgrounds we have been during our first year of our new adventure.

1.  City of Rocks:

This was the very first campsite.  We didn’t know what to expect from the entire experience.  On this very first camping experience we encountered leveling problems.  With that huge space, we could hardly believe we could not find level.  We tried backing in, fronting in, parking sideways in the space.  We could not find anything near level.  We tried the leveling legos we had purchased.  We could either get it level front to back or side to side, but not both.  We were getting to the point of giddy with laughter because we just could not get it level.  Finally, we got it “pert-near” and that was the best we could do.

Following the leveling ordeal we explored our campsite and the campground.  We were way out in the boondocks, far away from the main area which contained most of the sites.  Our picnic table and fire ring were situated between huge rocks forming a circle.

This was an absolutely great campsite.  We thought at the time that nothing was going to top this.  In a way we were slightly worried that since this one was soooooooo great that every future site would pale in comparison.

2.  Rockhound State Park

Our site here, compared to our very private site at City of Rocks, was not so much so.  But it was a large space and our first one with hookups.  Our goal for this year was to try out many different places which included different amenities so we would find out what worked for us and what didn’t.  The campground was quite full and we had expected that it was going to be fairly noisy.  To our surprise we hardly heard a noise.  In fact we nicknamed this park “the vampire campground” because we hardly saw a soul and thought for sure everyone would come out of their RV’s at night.

Although the site itself was not as private nor as picturesque as the one at City of Rocks, the campground itself was very nice, containing two very nice walking trails and included wonderful sunset views.

3.  Valley of Fires

Jim is going to tell you this is his favorite place.  This is the first site that we could not reserve.  Therefore this was the first time that Jim had to leave early on Friday to be sure to get a site for the weekend, and then I drove up later, after work, to meet him.  This is a place I had wanted to go for many years, as a day trip adventure, since we had not ventured into the world of RVing, but had never found the right time to go.  This site was the first that we had no problem leveling, as it was a paved space.  It was also the first pull through.  The sites at this BLM managed campground (which Jim will also tell you his is favorite type of campground, a BLM managed campground) are mostly pull through and therefore your door opens to the lava field, which is the attraction at this site.  Again, not as private as City of Rocks, but because of the few number of campers and the extreme wind that battered the area the entire weekend, not much time was spent outside for anyone.

We spent most of the weekend driving around obtaining photos for the “Get The Picture” contest for New Mexico’s Centennial celebration.

The campground was extremely clean with excellent bathroom and shower facilities.

4.  Three Rivers Petroglyphs

This was probably the most unique campground we have stayed in thus far.  It only has two camping spaces.  Can’t get much more private than that.  The main feature of this area is the 20+ thousand petroglyphs located on an easy walking trail.

The area is a BLM managed facility, and there is alot of day use, however, once the day use area is closed only two campers remain and it is quite and private.  This site had hookups and it was already starting to get a bit warm and I believe we actually turned our air conditioner on for a little while.

5.  Datil Well

Our third BLM managed facility was another very good one.  This campground is usually full, however when we were there, there were only a few other campers throughout the facility.  This was also a first come first serve campground, but because I had a three day weekend scheduled for this we were able to go together.  We picked out a lovely spot, a pull through, which we are beginning to decide is our favorite type of site.  There was a growth of trees which formed an alcove in which we could put our chairs for ultimate privacy.

The campground had an extensive walking trail that I was so excited to use, but was sadly disappointed when on our first excursion on the trail we encountered something with a very deep growl behind a rock.  With notices of mountain lions in the area, that ended any chance for me to enjoy walking the trail throughout the weekend.

6.  Pinyon Flats Campground

This is the campground for the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  The campground is paved, but extremely tight and the spaces are very very small.  Our space was the largest in the campground, and although advertised as a pull through, there is no way to pull through it with a motor home.  Obviously the campground was designed when the majority of camping was tenting or very small trailers.  Although paved, we did have to level a bit, but the site was extremely private with a large sitting area.  The purpose of this trip was of course to see the sand dunes, and they did not disappoint.

7.   Morefield Campground

This is the campground for Mesa Verde National Park.  This is a large campground, with extremely small and un-level sites.  As with Pinyon Flats campground Jim and I have decided that the National Park system is not spending money to upgrade their campgrounds.  You make a reservation for this campground, but you do not reserve a specific site, you just drive around and find one.  The more scenic and private sites are the most un-level.  There are some sites located in an open meadow like area that appear to be pretty level.  There are some hookups spaces, and they looked fairly nice, but most were close together.  Of course the campground here was secondary to the attractions which are the cliff dwelings.

8.  Blue Spruce RV Park

This was our first RV Park, and as RV Parks go it was a beauty.  We had been there several years ago and stayed in one of the cabins so we knew what to expect.  We where there this time for Jim’s niece’s wedding.

As I said for RV parks, Blue Spruce is extremely nice, but it is still an RV park, in that I mean that it is Jim’s and my feeling that those who frequent RV parks are most concerned with the creature comforts.  Having all the hookups enables one to be less concerned with conserving the on board resources and allows for the watching of television and listening to music.  Also, it appears that the majority of RV parks have flush toilets and showers and one then has the option to use those facilities as well.   For Jim and I it is less a camping experience and more of a living on the road experience.  Which is great, it is good to know what you like so that you are not disappointed with your travel plans.  Blue Spruce is as close to a campground as and RV park can get I believe.  There are many huge trees within the park, and even a small hiking trail along the hillside which boarders the rear of the park.  In no way is Blue Spruce a bad place to be, it is just that it would not be our first choice given there are a number of campgrounds in the very same area.

9.  Villaneueva State Park

This is our second visit to this park.  This was the park we went to when we purchased GROVER back in October of 2011.  We chose this park in order to take our granddaughters there on their first camping experience.  The park has the Pecos river running through it as well as two hiking trails and a playground.  When we were there in October of 2011 we could tell it was a family oriented park, with kids running and playing.  We thought that this would be a much better experience for the girls, rather than us telling them to “ssssshhhh”  all the time.  And we certainly did not have to do that, our site, selected to be one with electricity and water thinking with the girls this would be most practical (entertain them with DVD’s), was right next to the group camp area and there must have been close to 100 people in all camping in the group area.  Now, in reality it was a very cordial group, and nothing even remotely “routy” about any of the campers in the park, but it was just the fact that there were so many campers that the feeling of wilderness was really taken out of the scenario.  But it was what it was and worked for a place to take the girls.  There is an upper level without hookups to this park that appears to be much less used, and much more quiet.  In the future, we may try that location.

10.  Aspen Glade Campground (Trip 1)

This was a last minute switch.  After our trip to Blue Spruce, we were better able to gauge driving times and two of the campgrounds I had scheduled were just too far away to do on a two day trip.  Very disappointed on one – Junction Creek, which appears to be quite remote and full of trees but had hookups.  So for one of the canceled weekends we went on a day drive to the nearby Jemez mountains and checked out some camping options there, and took some photos for the contest and for the next I found a space here at Aspen Glade and snatched it up.  (Aspen Glade was scheduled for two weeks later as well).

The site was not perfect, it was right below the entry road and there was a bit of highway traffic as well, but the peacefulness of the campground more than made up for it.  We had chipmunks, squirrels, robins and blue jays galore, all coming to our site to get some of our peanuts.  For a spur of the moment choice it worked very well.

11.   Pecos River RV Park

The purpose of staying here was to take one of the granddaughters on her first trip to Carlsbad Caverns (my favorite place in the state).  I selected it because a) it was small, b) it was located right on the Pecos river walk, c.) it was located near the places I needed to take photos of for the contest, and d.) it was located near the Trinity Hotel where I had intended to dine for my birthday celebration (which we did not do).

Well it was very noisy (traffic wise) located right on the highway from Carlsbad to Hobbs the truck traffic was very heavy.  It is hot this time of year in Carlsbad so we knew we were going to be in alot running the air conditioner, and when we did that there was certainly not enough traffic noise to be disturbing, however when GROVER cooled down enough for the air conditioner to stop you could clearly hear the traffic noise.  Again, this place was what it was, a place to park so that we could enjoy a trip to the Carlsbad Caverns, this was not intended to feel like a wilderness camping experience.

12.  Aspen Glade Campground (2nd trip)

Which brings us up to date on the campgrounds we have visited so far.  On this trip our spot was located right on the Conjeos river in a beautiful shady setting.  This site was far superior than our previous site.  Unfortunately we did not get alot of time to enjoy the site even though I did get to get off a few hours early (Thank you Ken) so I did not have to drive by myself, it did rain alot and we took a wonderful 4wd day trip through the Rio Grande National Forest to go to the site of Sublette and Osier where the Cumbres Toltec train runs in hopes of getting photos of the train.  But not knowing the amount of time it would take, we were not at either location when a trains arrival was imminent (maybe next time).  I did get some wonderful photos in the area however.

To Sumerize

  1. City of Rocks – The most private
  2. Rockhound  - Beautiful views, eerily quite, great walking trails
  3. Valley of Fires – Cleanest and most convenient
  4. Three Rivers Petroglyphs – Oddest, also great views and walking trail
  5. Datil Well – Most potential for great walking, but scariest because of possible wildlife
  6. Pinyon Flats – Small spaces, great attraction to visit nearby
  7. Morefield Campground – Small spaces, great attraction to visit nearby
  8. Blue Spruce – One of the nicest RV Parks
  9. Villaneuva – Great place to take children
  10. Aspen Glade (trip1) – Very peaceful campground atmosphere
  11. Pecos River RV Park – Lots of highway noise, but guest noise non exsistent
  12. Aspen Glade (trip 2) – Wonderful spot along the river, and again peaceful
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