Las Vegas, Lathrup and Home

4 05 2017

Good Morning from Conifer, CO.  We’re home!

Spanish Peaks, Lathrup State Park

After leaving Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell, we fought NW winds most of the way across eastern New Mexico to Las Vegas.  The KOA in Las Vegas is just off of I-25, at the intersection with highway 84 which connects with I-40 near Santa Rosa.  The campground is set on the side of a hill among cedar and pinon pine.  There are a handful of long pull-through sites that are very flat.  The majority of the other pull-through sites will require some leveling.  While you’re fairly close to I-25, the noise from the highway isn’t objectionable.  This is a rustic campground – anyone expecting shiny new restrooms, pool or other pubic spaces will be disappointed.  But, for a single overnight, it works fine

From Las Vegas we made the short trip over Raton pass to Lathrup State Park outside of Walsenburg. Roads were dry over the pass, but it was evident that the snow plows has been out during the preceding snow storm that dropped up to 12” on this area.  Even at Lathrup, there were small snow piles in the shady spots.  The Spanish Peaks were stunning with their fresh topping of snow.  With snow showers continuing at home, we opted to spend a 2nd night at Lathrup.

On Thursday we completed the last leg of our 2017 Spring Road Trip, logging nearly 5000 miles and 68 nights at 24 campgrounds and RV parks.  Once again our time spent with good friends was the best- Lost Dutchman State Park near Phoenix, Davis Mountains State Park near Ft. Davis, TX, Big Bend National Park and of course South Padre Island.  But, we’re only home for 7 days before once again hitting the road to return to Lathrup State Park.  More from there…



Eastward across New Mexico

14 03 2017

Lordsburg, NM KOA

With about 450 miles of eastward travel along I-10 in our immediate future, we opt for 3 shorter days across New Mexico with our first stop at Lordsburg, about 2.5 hours from Tucson.  The only RV park in Lordsburg is the KOA.  The typical A-frame building greets you and shows the best potential of this park.  Behind this façade are 7 or 8 rows of pull-through sites laid out on a gravel parking lot.  A few leaf-less trees dot the area and there’s even some grass along the back fence reserved for tent campers.  Pretty much as expected – we’ll spend 1 night here before departing for Las Cruces.

Facilities:  We found virtually no over the air TV, but with a cable connection, we had the major networks, some from Tucson and some from Albuquerque.  The office had a WiFi hotspot, but even with a WiFi booster, the service was unpredictable.  It’d run along at 3Mb one minute and then fails to connect  the next.  Frustrating – but again, mostly as expected.  Cellular phone service was spotty too, with 2G or LTE service – but very little data bandwidth.

We’re off to Las Cruces today – bigger city and better services hopefully – more from there!

Memorial Day Weekend at Lake Conchas

30 05 2016
Lake Conchas State Park, New Mexico

Lake Conchas State Park, New Mexico

We’ve just spent 4 nights at Lake Conchas in northern New Mexico.  We last visited Conchas on the return from Texas about 4 weeks ago.  Once again we’re parked in Bell Point, on the cliff side site #19 with friends in sites #21, #22 and #18.

We departed Danver on Wednesday for a quick overnight at Pueblo Lake SP. We enjoyed electric only back-in sites #46 & #47 with great views over the lake to the south.  On Thursday, with miserable winds from the South, we crossed Raton Pass to Las Vegas and then across highway 104 for about 70 miles of rough, windy road.  Perhaps a detour down highway 84 between Las Vegas and Santa Rosa would be a bit easier drive.

After a windy evening Thursday, we enjoyed high temperatures in the 80’s and lows in the 50’s each night.  On Friday we had a brief thunderstorm that produced a bit of rain and caused cancellation of our evening campfire.  It should be noted that only a few sites at Conchas have fire rings.  #21 and #29 are probably the best sites with fire pits.  The downside to #21 is the proximity of the dumpster.  With the campground full nearly all weekend, this dumpster was pretty smelly by half way through the weekend.

We’re currently enroute to Taos, NM where we’ll spend one night at a favorite RV park, Taos Valley.  More from Taos…

A Weekend at Lake Conchas

2 05 2016
Lake Conchas, "Out the Rear Window"

Lake Conchas, “Out the Rear Window” site #19

With winter storms still complicating our return to Colorado, on Saturday we opted to move a bit further north to Lake Conchas near Tucumcari, NM.  We spent time at Lake Conchas last year waiting out storms along the front range, and decided it would be a good spot for that again this year.  Arriving on Saturday afternoon, sunny skies and warm temperature slowly  gave way to a cold, windy drizzle that lasted through Sunday evening.  But, temps weren’t all that much warmer in Roswell, so at least we’re another 200 miles closer to home.

We’re parked in site #19, a cliff-side site that enjoys a beautiful view of the lake and northern skies.  There’s virtually no over-the-air TV at Conchas, so one of our first tasks on arrival was to set-up the DirecTV satellite.  Utilizing a free 30 day demo of HBO we enjoyed a very relaxing rainy weekend of movies.

After 2 nights at Conchas, Monday morning dawns as a beautiful sunny, wind-free day.  Just the right kind of day to continue our trek north.  From here we’re bound for Lathrup State Park right outside of Walsenburg..  More from there…

Excitement at Bottomless Lakes

29 04 2016
Bottomless Lakes State Park fire

Bottomless Lakes State Park “Overflow Fire”

We’re now on our 5th day at Bottomless Lakes State Park.  After arriving on Sunday, we’ve watched several winter storm systems move across our northward path and through the Denver area.  With temperatures here in the upper 70 and low 80’s, we’re not anxious to proceed north into snow and cold.

Late yesterday afternoon a brush fire erupted very near the State Park.  Fanned by winds gusting to 25MPH, it was a bit too reminiscent of some of the smokey Spring times we’ve had in the foothills of Colorado.  After burning over 100 acres and belching smoke into the sky for most of the afternoon, NM state and BLM personal had the blaze under control by dusk.

Campers at northern campgrounds were asked to evacuate, but here at Lea Lake the rangers explained there was not an imminent threat due to wind direction and an expansive wetland area between us and the fire.  They also insured us that if it became necessary, we’d have plenty of time to pack up.  Fortunately the winds died down just before sunset and we enjoyed a pleasant, calm, evacuation-free evening.


Bottomless Lakes State Park, Roswell, NM

25 04 2016
Bottomless Lakes SP Site #11

Bottomless Lakes SP Site #11

In a long driving day, we’ve departed Texas and re-entered the Mountain Time Zone.  The original plan called for an overnight in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  But, as appears common, winds were expected to be gusting to about 50 MPH through that region, so we opted to detour to the east, away from the mountains.  Unfortunately that means a transit of US 285 from Pecos to Carlsbad.  After having traveled south along this route last year, we knew this to be one of the roughest sections of road we’ve driven.  With heavy truck traffic rumbling through, even on a Sunday, the road is heaving and crumbling everywhere.  It’s 85 miles of truck bouncing, cupboard jarring, teeth gritting travel.  And, combined with about a 20 MPH side wind, the day wasn’t a pleasant journey – making it all that much nicer when we arrived at Bottomless Lakes State Park outside of Roswell, NM.

Turning east at Roswell it’s tough to imagine anything with trees and water across the seemingly endless plains stretching to the east.  But, just 5 miles off the main road is Bottomless Lakes State Park – a natural oasis around a handful of small lakes in the Pecos River valley.  Not truly bottomless, the lakes were formed similarly to Carlsbad Caverns when limestone eroded to create massive underground caves.  But, here – the cave ceilings eventually collapsed, filled with water and created the nine lakes that vary in depth from 18 to 90 feet.

Bottom Lakes SP, Lea Lake

Bottom Lakes SP, Lea Lake

We’re parked at Lea Lake Campground, 32 campsites at the southern end of the park, near the beach, volleyball and group pavilion.  The sites here are spacious, level and most offer water and electric.  6 of the sites also have sewer ports.  12 sites are available for online reservations at reserveamerica and the remaining 17 RV sites (and 3 tent sites) are walk-up only for $14/night.  We’re in site #11, a walk-up site at the far end of one of the loops offering nice privacy and even some shade from a few small trees to each side of the RV.  There’s a concrete covered patio with a picnic table and clean, graveled pad.  For some of the lowest per night costs,  New Mexico does a great job with the maintenance of their state parks.  We have good T-Mobile access here, and even a fairly good free park WiFi available.  And, there are 10 or 12 over-the-air TV channels from Albuquerque.

Rockhound State Park, Deming, NM

15 03 2016
Rockhound State Park, site #21

Rockhound State Park, site #21

What a jewel – and a welcome relief from the cramped noisy site in Tucson.  Set on the slopes of the rugged Little Florida Mountains to the south east of Deming,  the 23 electric & water sites run $14.00/night.  With only 5 sites reservable, we weren’t sure if we could nab a walk-up site or not, but we hoped a Tuesday arrival might help us beat the weekend crowd.  However, there were no sites available for a 2 night stay when we arrived.  While talking with the host about the potential of “overflowing” into the group space, another camper walked by and mentioned he’d be leaving the next day.  With a late cancellation in a reservation site, the host allowed us to spend the night there and move the next day.  We started in site #21 and moved to site #20.  Moving is always a bit of a pain, but well worth the hassle to get to spend another quiet evening here on the mountain side.

At about 5000 feet, Rockhound State Park enjoys a great view out over the lights of Deming along with beautiful sunsets.  Dawn comes late because the campground is up against a high mountain to the east.  But, once the sun comes over the ridge, the desert temperatures climbed quickly, with daytime highs in the upper 70’s and overnight lows in the 30’s and 40’s.  There are also plenty of trails for hikers and a nice visitor center.  T-mobile phones (voice and LTE data) worked best using the cellular booster.  The Verizon 3G signal was good as were the 10 or so rebroadcast TV channels from Albuquerque.  We didn’t use them, but  many of the other campers said the bath and shower house here at Rockhound was the best of all New Mexico State Parks.  This was a great place to spend two nights – we’ll be back!