NM, RV Park Reviews, Tiny Life, Travel

Heron Lake State Park ~ Los Ojos, NM

New Mexico has some of the best state parks in the country, IMO, and back in January of 2017 when we still had the truck camper we purchased a year pass but unfortunately never got to use it.  So when we got back on the road again in our Avion we decided we had better get our moneys worth out of it before it expired (01/31/18)!

New Mexico state park passes cost $225 a year for out of state residents and $180 a year if you’re a New Mexico resident.  Now that might seem like a lot but when you are camping and are in a non-electric site the cost is free!  If you choose a power and water site the cost is $4 a day and a full hookup site (where available) is $8!  Not a bad deal, IMO.  Also dump sites are available at most parks.

Our first state park of this tour was Heron Lake State Park in Los Ojos, NM.  Situated just 20 minutes from Chama, NM and fed by the Rio Chama.  This state park and lake offers many camping opportunities but if you’re looking for something with power and water there are only two options:  Blanco and Willow Creek.

Site #57 at Blanco. Large pull through, power/water and a picnic table with shelter
Willow Creek has smaller sites and not nearly as many pull throughs as Blanco so when we came through looking for a site we chose Blanco.  We found a large pull through almost immediately that was a non-reservation site.  All sites in Blanco have fire pits and picnic tables and some have covered shelters.  Our site had a shelter and was fairly private. Blanco also has a bathhouse with showers while Willow Creek has a bathroom with toilets only.

There are many hiking trails in the camping areas that lead down to and go around the lake.  All are easy paths to hike and offer beautiful views!

Hiking trails to the lake!

Heron Lake

A place to rest with a view of the lake
The only downside to the campsites at Blanco and Willow Creek is that none of the sites have a true view of the lake.  You can glimpse it from certain sites but there are no full views.  There are other dispersed camping sites down the road that you can see the lake from but none offer electric or power so keep that in mind.  Also, some of the other dispersed areas are not able to accommodate larger rigs.  Be sure to scout all areas before driving in!

Another view of site #57
Length of stay in all New Mexico state parks is 14 days and as we are determined to take it slow this winter we did stay the whole 14 days in Blanco.

Verizon cell service offers 1 bar of LTE but it can go in and out without a booster.  TMobile was nonexistent.

All in all, Blanco and Willow Creek offer nice pull through and back in sites that are fairly large and private, good amenities and lots of outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing.  We will definitely be back!

Gorgeous pine trees!

It was wildflower season!

Beautiful sunsets!

AZ, Boondocking!, General info, Travel

On to Quartzsite!

We left northern New Mexico on November 2nd with the idea of high tailing it down to Quartzsite.  The snow was coming in and if we had stayed we would have been stuck!

Our original route would have taken us across northern New Mexico through Farmington, then down through Shiprock to Flagstaff and head south from there.  Something told us that perhaps we should take the long way.  Head south through Albuquerque all the way down and then across southern Arizona to Quartzsite.  It turns out we made the right choice!  The night we left it snowed almost 8″ in Flagstaff and as that would have been our first overnight stay we might have regretted it!

Instead we took I-25 south to Elephant Butte Lake and decided to stop there for the night.  New Mexico has some of the best state parks out there and this one was no exception.   $14/night for power and water with a nice patio shelter and view of the lake.

Our spot at Elephant Butte Lake ~ Monticello South.
Our spot at Elephant Butte Lake ~ Monticello South.

Really nice area, beautiful views and gorgeous sunsets!  What more can you ask for?

Our view of Elephant Butte Lake
Our view of Elephant Butte Lake
Gorgeous desert sunset
Gorgeous desert sunset

We were going to head out the next day on to Arizona but after checking the weather report we were expecting 25-35 mph winds and decided to stay put.  We don’t like driving in high winds and as we were not in a hurry we hung around another day!

The storm rolling in...
The storm rolling in…

The winds got so bad that we had to bring our slide in.  We were rocking back and forth and had some torrential rain at one point.  We were safe and dry inside even if we were cramped up a bit! 🙂

Hanging out inside with the slide in.  Close quarters!
Hanging out inside with the slide in. Close quarters!

After the storm passed it was still pretty windy but we caught this gorgeous rainbow from the aftermath!  So pretty.

Rainbow after the storm
Rainbow after the storm

While this was a short stop on the way to Arizona, we would love to come back to this park at some point.  We highly recommend it!

The next morning we got on the road.  We didn’t have an overnight stop planned so we decided to drive until we got tired.  We like to drive 300 miles or less per day so we kind of had an idea we would be stopping outside of Tucson.  As we got closer I found a state park just outside of Tucson called Picacho Peak.  It seemed like a good place to stop.

Made it to Arizona!
Made it to Arizona!

While the views were lovely, it was very close to the interstate with lots of highway noise and a train that ran right by the park.  At $25/per night for electric only it wasn’t a very good deal, IMO.  But, it was safe and the views of the peak were very pretty.

Picacho Peak

The next morning we headed on to Quartzsite!  It was just a short 3 hour drive.  But then we had to make a decision on where to boondock.  After checking out a bunch of blog recommendations we decided to go with Dome Rock BLM.  The Wheeling It crew highly recommended it and it was a great place to boondock for our first time in Quartzsite!

Ahhh... all set up!  Time to relax.
Ahhh… all set up! Time to relax.

In our next post I will give more details on Quartzsite and our experience there.