The village of Ducaj near Boge, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Tirana Airport, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Porto, Portugal on June 25th!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

"You have to do your research, you know..."

Had a great sleep Sunday night at the Taos airport. Temperature never got that cold, and it was still about 57F (13C) inside the motorhome when we woke up. Got our internet work done using the free airport WiFi and then headed down to the Rio Grande bridge where our friends Bob and Denise had been overnighting at the rest area beside the bridge.

We walked across part of the bridge, with the deck located about 800' above the river. I think I remember reading that this is the 10th highest bridge in the United States.

Then, along with Bob and Denise, we made a plan. Anybody who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that we put a lot of research and planning into our travels, especially when looking for a spot to overnight for free in the motorhome.

Bridge over the Rio Grande.

It was spitting with rain, and windy!

Looking left.

And looking right.

The river is 800' below!

So we knew that the official Forest Service campgrounds were closed in this area. But from reading the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land website, their campgrounds in this area were open. The area around the Rio Grande Gorge looked like it had lots of hiking opportunities, and quite a few unserviced campsites at $7 USD per night.

So we did the 35 mile (56 km) drive up to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

When we arrived there, it was very quiet. But, the weather wasn't the best and it was a Monday morning. We kind of figured it would be quiet! As we approached the "fee" area, we passed by a park ranger who was pulled over at the side of the road. We pulled in a bit further on to read the "fee" instruction board.

That's when we saw the sign saying that the campgrounds had been closed since March 30th! Yes, you could still use the day use areas and hiking trails for a daily cost of $3 per vehicle. I was not impressed. I had specifically checked the BLM website regarding the campsites so that we wouldn't be wasting our time driving up there. Nowhere did it say they were closed.

We drove back over to the park ranger guy.

He agreed that "the BLM website isn't very good!"

Anyhow, it certainly wasn't his fault. And, he was really good about giving us some choices, including another option for free overnight parking. He said that we could pay the day use fee and still go for a hike, and he recommended the best one.

The "Little Arsenic and Big Arsenic Loop"

He said that we could park at the campsites, so long as we didn't stay the night.

Funny looking goat dude.

Where the Red River meets the Rio Grande.

Heading down into the gorge.

Ruth and Denise.

Ruth and Denise.

Bob and Scarlett the dog.

Made it to the bottom.

Starting the climb back out.

Can you see Ruth and Denise?

This bird would just not turn around to give us a better look at himself!

Almost back at the top.

Nice views of the gorge.

It was a fantastic hike, despite the not so ideal weather forecast. The temperature was good, but on and off showers throughout the day. A little rain never hurt anyone.

We did 3.5 miles (5.6 kms) in an hour and a half, which considering it involved almost 700' down and back up in elevation change that was a pretty good pace.

So, now it was about 2:30pm and we still had to find a place to overnight. The ranger had told us that BLM "dispersed" free camping was still open and available and that the nearest place was the Cabresto Canyon Road about 25 miles (40 kms) away. He said the road was a bit washboardy, but that we should be fine.

We drove over there, and as the paved road became a dirt road, a big dually 4x4 pickup truck was coming the opposite way and flagged us down to stop. The older fellow driving said "oh, you don't want to go up there, the road isn't suitable for that type of vehicle. You have to do your research, you know." He had in fact turned around only a hundred yards up and wan't prepared to go any further himself.

This guy obviously doesn't read Travel with Kevin and Ruth.

After a short conversation during which I indicated that I had in fact done the research and even the park ranger thought we were okay... we carried on. His last words were "well... good luck" as he shook his head.

Yes, it was a little rough... but we made it to the 8,400' level and found ourselves a nice overnight spot.

Yup, this will do!

If we had a cell signal, we would probably have stayed two or three nights! Lots of beautiful hiking, and this morning (Tuesday) we are doing a 4 mile (6.5 km) hike up to the 9,200' level and a pretty mountain lake.

Decent deal on the 2 Pack of DampRid Moisture Absorber.

And in Canada...

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  1. Wild River national monument is a great place to visit and cool camping on the rim if it is open near Questa.

    1. That is exactly where we went for our hike down to the bottom of the gorge and then back up. We were going to camp there as well but all structured campsites are closed, only dispersed camping is allowed and you can't do dispersed camping in the National Monument. We did love our hike there though. :-)

  2. I know you like to keep on touch, and we like it too, but I think we'd understand if you find a great place to hang out for a bit without cell service.

    1. And that does happen sometimes, however Kevin likes the internet and he can do 24 hours away from it but it is hard for him to be away from it more than that. ;-)

  3. Love the photo of you and Ruth with canyon behind.

    1. Thank you Garth! We hope you are keeping well. :-)

  4. I also thought that was a nice picture.

  5. You all are having so much fun! Wish we could be with you!

    1. We are enjoying ourselves despite that crazy circumstances at the moment. We wish you guys were here too, but we know you are enjoying yourselves in Valle as well.

      Take care and keep healthy. :-)

  6. what a great photo... as long as you are not afraid of heights !

    1. Thanks Bob! It wasn't so scary, the trail was just below. :-)

  7. Fantasy scenery and another great picture of the two of you! Loved the bird picture even though it only showed its back... interesting plumage. Hope the weather improves. Safe travels.

    1. Thank you Lynnette! The scenery and the hike were fantastic, we really love this area and wish we could have camped there, maybe next time. :-)

  8. BLM campgrounds are open as I've read 3 days ago, in Idaho....Makes ya wonder the difference in who's running the show....From state to state...
    I'm planning on hitting the road as soon as we are let out...

    1. Some BLM lands here in New Mexico are open and some aren't. It is hard to figure out, and it is only the dispersed camping areas that are open, not the organized campsites.

  9. Thanks for reminding me of the bridge over the Rio Grande! We walked across it in the summer of 2013, and what glorious views there were! I remarked in our blog post about it that it was windy. We were not camping but did find (and hike in) a very nice campground near there, which was closed when you went through, unfortunately. If you ever make it back to that area under better circumstances, you should check it out. Here's our blog post if you are interested:

    1. Sounds like you had a wonderful time there. There really is so much hiking and biking to do in the area. We did a hike down in the canyon back in 2013 when we stopped with the Little Blue Car and it gave us similar views to the ones that you did where you end up at the top of the canyon. Unfortunately when we went through there the other day not only was the camping closed but the whole area was closed, we weren't even able to stop for a hike. If we are ever in this area again with Sherman we will be sure to stop in there for a few days. :-)


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