Hope you can make your deam a reality!
RE: Avoiding the southern states in summer, this could be wise for the Old Confederate States. However, not so true for the southern Western States were you have some elevation working to keep things cooler and not ridden with high humidity. We have spent over 40 years camping mainly in the summer and for much of that time we did not have A/C in the campers (caravans). The days can be hot but the nights tend to cool off quickly, often become somewhat cold at times. Even in Southern New Mexico we have a lot of camping in alpine settings. Look for the elevation of an area and it can be an indicator of how cool it will be for camping and sight seeing. You can find many such places in New Mexico, some in far West Texas (it can cool off nicely along the Gulf Coast at night by the Gulf of Mexico) and also in Arizona (but some areas are lower in elevation there).
If you get to New Mexico
this is a list some nice places to camp and see (if you click on the underlined words or addresses it will take you to a web site):
Aguirre Spring BLM Campground near Las Cruces is a very nice campground. The high wall, needle-like spires of the Organ Mountains curve dramatically around a semicircle of Chihuahuan Desert habitat at the Aguirre Spring Campground. The campground, nestled at the base of spectacular cliffs, overlooks the Tularosa Basin and White Sands National Monument. Alligator juniper, gray oak, mountain mahogany and sotol are a few of the abundant plant species here. Seasonal springs and streams occur in the canyon bottoms, with a few perennial springs that support riparian habitats.
City of Rocks State Park http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/prd/cityrocks.htm
Lee State Park http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/prd/oliverlee.htm
Pancho Villa State Park http://www.casitaforum.com/invboard/...showtopic=2447
Other State Parks http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/prd/ParkTours.htm
I believe most people would enjoy any of the NM State Parks such as these:
Bottomless Lakes not made it to it yet, on my to do list
Brantley Lake on my list to do
Caballo Lake nice place
Cimarron Canyon very nice camping area
Clayton Lake need to try this sometime
Conchas Lake ditto
Coyote Creek to do list
Eagle Nest Lake not a camping site but very neat, close to Cimarron Canyon
Elephant Butte Lake nice place, did a lot of camping there when we had a boat
El Vado Lake near Heron Lake, but with fast boats, been by it not camped there
Hyde Memorial near Santa Fe, nice place
Leasburg Dam near Las Cruces, nice desert camping by the Rio Gande
Manzano Mountains very nice camping, higher country
Oasis on to do list
Percha Dam nice place on Rio Grande, near Caballo Lake
Rockhound not a pretty site but if into rockhounding a neat place
Santa Rosa Lake on my to do list
Storrie Lake nice place near Las Vegas, NM
Sumner Lake on my to do list
Ute Lake on my to do list
Vietnam Veterans Memorial not a camping site, very moving place to visit.
Villanueva a neat out of the way camping site on the Pecos River.
Valley of Fires Recreation Area & BLM Campground http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/rec..._of_fires.html
The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site & BLM Campground http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/rec...ee_rivers.html
Datil Wells BLM Campground http://www.freecampgrounds.com/detail.aspx?id=1727
I had listed only sites (except for the State Park List) in the southern part of the state. Here are some for up north:
Blue Water Lake State Park http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/prd/Bluewater.htm
El Morro National Monument is neat to see & has a small campground (no showers or water in Dec but free then); there is a private campgound near by
Bandelier National Monument would be a nice place to visit near Los Alamos and not far from Santa Fe. It was a pleasent campground when we stayed there.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a great place to visit with a nice campground in remote area. http://www.nps.gov/chcu/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm
We used to stay at Red Rocks State Park near Gallup, but it seems not to be a State Park now. I have not been to it in years, some bad reviews in http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions...co/Gallup.html
?? but I have seen some good ones as well in other places. East of Gallop off I-40 not too far from Gallop. We used to stay at Red Rocks State Park but it has been dropped as a state park. However, besides the neat red cliffs there, behind the campground is a white formation called Church Rock.
Church Rock is also the name of the Navajo village. This is the site of a Pow Wow each year and Indian Rodeo...there used to be a very nice museum by the Rodeo grounds on Navajos. Red Rock Museum offers visitors a glimpse of the past. Through exhibits on the prehistoric Anasazi and the present-day Zuni, Hopi and Navajo, the Museum interprets the unique cultures of the Native Americans of the region. The annual Lions Club Rodeo is ranked with the best in the state of New Mexico. In addition, the non-profit Community Concerts organization host a variety of concerts during the year at Red Rock State Park. Red Rock State Park hosts the world famous Intertribal Indian Ceremonial held in August. Among the festivities are the colorful Indian Dances, the display of Indian jewelry and crafts, and Indian food booths. Gallup's most notable special event is the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial held every August. Native Americans converge on the town for a parade, dances, and an all-Indian rodeo east of town, at Red Rock. http://gallup-ceremonial.org/rodeo.php
another photo of Church Rock
Ooooh, yes, another rock formation in Northern NM would be Shiprock or Tsé Bit'a'í, "rock with wings" or "winged rock". It is up in the Four Corners Country, Navajo Country north of Gallop. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiprock
I am not sure of any campgrounds near Shiprock, New Mexico. I found this one on the net.
Somewhat near, but to the east of Shiprock is Navajo Lake State Park (we have stayed there, once); it is not close. We stayed at Pine River, the most developed area along the lake, includes a visitor center with interpretive exhibits, developed campgrounds, a day use area and a full service marina. Sims Mesa is across the lake, accessible by NM 527, and includes a visitor center with interpretive exhibits, developed campgrounds and a full service marina. The San Juan River area below the dam is world renowned for excellent trout fishing and includes wheelchair-accessible fishing facilities on the river, Cottonwood Campground, seven day use areas and several hiking trails.
Bisti Badlands & De-na-zin wilderness, I have read about them in New Mexico Magazine (simular to Arizona Hwys), but have not gone there. Little visited and largely unknown, the Bisti Badlands is an amazingly scenic and colorful expanse of undulating mounds and unusual eroded rocks covering 4,000 acres, hidden away in the high desert that covers the distant northwest corner of New Mexico. The Badlands are administered by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and are known officially, but less evocatively as the Bisti Wilderness Area. There are no signposts pointing the way to the Badlands from any nearby towns, but the usual approach route is along NM 371 from Farmington, the largest town in the Four Corners region - this heads due south through wide open prairie land at the east edge of the great Navajo Indian Reservation, which extends for 200 miles across into Arizona. After 36 miles, a gravel track exits east, opposite an historical marker recording the history of this area and of the nearby Bisti trading post, now derelict. http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/wilderness/bisti.html
Approach Roads: Five miles along the entrance track, the grassy plain is replaced quite abruptly by a multi-colored eroded landscape of small clayish hills, shallow ravines, and strange rock formations. The scene is a vivid mixture of red, grey, orange and brown that stretches for many miles. The track passes a large area suitable for parking, then crosses a dry sandy wash and continues alongside the badlands for ca 3 miles before rejoining NM 371. However, the road was fenced off shortly after the wash when I visited, a barrier which looked quite permanent. The far end of the track is actually the official entrance to the badlands, not that there is much difference in scenery or facilities. Several similar un-signposted tracks cross the sandy hills at the south edge of the formations, around a seasonal drainage known as the De-na-zin Wash. A ten mile drive along one such bumpy track leads to the much larger De-na-zin wilderness - equally colorful and even more remote, although partially covered with vegetation. The nearest towns with hotels close to the Bisti Badlands are Bloomfield, Farmington and Gallup. Scenery: After a few minutes walk into the wilderness, the road is out of sight and the surreal landscape is all around. The clayish hills are composed of layers of coal, silt, shale and mudstone with varying hardness and colouration, and are mixed with more resistant sandstone which has eroded into weird formations similar to those of Goblin Valley or Bryce Canyon in Utah. Many small ravines created by rainwater erosion cross through the hills, and there are also occasional mini caves and fissures several meters deep. Much of the surface is unstable - the layers are often loose, rocks are crumbling and some of the formations are quite delicate. Hikers should take care not to damage the features; there are no established trails, but walking along the ravines is the usual way to explore. Petrified wood is scattered across the surface - sometimes entire tree stumps, with the bark still clearly recognisable. Fossils may also be found - the teeth and bones of a variety of species including dinosaurs are embedded in the earthy layers. Abandoned Buildings: The loneliness of this strange and deserted land is emphasised by a cluster of abandoned and semi-derelict buildings nearby. These are the remnants of the old Bisti trading post, and include a large warehouse, a gas station, several storage sheds and most poignantly, a childrens' playground, now overgrown and rusty. One building is still in use - a sparsely furnished church used for services on several occasions a week, and left open for the casual visitor to enter at other times. Walking around this sandy, wind-swept location, which has the appearance of being deserted for many years, is a moving experience, made all the more memorable by the mysterious landscape.
I have seen photos and read about Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks located 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe and 55 miles northeast of Albuquerque, with the most direct access from Interstate 25. From Albuquerque, take the exit for Santo Domingo/Cochiti Lake Recreation Area (Exit 259) off I-25 onto NM 22. Follow the signs on NM 22 to Cochiti Pueblo and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Turn right off NM 22 at the pueblo water tower (painted like a drum) onto Tribal Route 92, which connects to Forest Service Road 266. From the fee station, travel five miles on a gravel road to the national monument's designated parking/picnic area and trailhead.From Santa Fe, take the Cochiti Pueblo Exit 264 off I-25 onto NM 16. Turn right off NM 16 onto NM 22, and follow the signs to Cochiti Pueblo and the national monument. Portions of the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument have reopened following extensive flood damage. The Cave Loop Trail and part of the Slot Canyon Trail are open. The upper Slot Canyon and Overlook trails remain closed until further notice.
Other BLM sites in this area: http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/fo/Rio_P...ld_Office.html
Heron Lake State Park has been designated a "quiet lake" where boats operate at no-wake speeds only. This park is known for its excellent sailing, fishing, cross-country skiing, and hiking. We spent many summers camping here.
Fenton Lake State Park is a small out to the way Park surrounded by beautiful ponderosa pine forests. We camped there once, a very nice place.
Angel Peak Scenic Area a BLM site 19-20 miles north of Nageezi on Highway 44 (US-550) on right side. 6 miles east on gravel road to campground loop (0.6 miles around loop). 3 picnic areas along the way. Go slow. Seriously, over 15 mph and your vehicle will shake immensely. Pit toilets. No toilet paper - bring your own. No utilities. Fire pits - bring your own firewood. Be sure fire is out completely before departure. Metal canopies over some of the picnic tables. Wonderful views of surrounding landscape. Can see lights
of Bloomfield 20 miles to the north at night. Stars terrific if not cloudy. Many oil wells in the area. We found it kind of lonely area, on your own type of place. The angel of Angel Peak formation has fallen down however.
Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area also a BLM site with campgrounds is 30 miles north of Santa Fe (http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/rec...cruz_lake.html
). We have stayed there, a nice area. Other BLM site in this area: http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/fo/Taos_Field_Office.html
Abiquiu Lake -US Army Corps of Engineers campground, we have driven by but not stopped, they say it has excellent facilities surrounded by red sandstone cliffs and mesas of "O´Keefe Country." http://www.publiclands.org/explore/site.php?id=49
Echo Amphitheater - Natural rock formation is nearby with a campground as well. Close to Ghost Ranch & the Ghost Ranch Piedra Lumbre Education and Visitor Center, located on U.S. Highway 84 just one mile north of the main Ghost Ranch entrance, has exhibits and a gift shop. A very nice museum in "O´Keefe Country." Ghost Ranch also has camping. http://www.ghostranch.org/meetings--...acilities.html
New Mexico National Forest Service Campgrounds and/or Dispersed Camping:
Carson National Forest - only personsal experience has been camping up by Taos on the Hwy going to Eagle Nest ( http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/carson/recre...hed_camp.shtml
) such as La Sombra 8 miles east of Taos along US Highway 64 at 7,800 ft. elevation or Capulin & Las Petacas. One of these can serve as a base to visiting Taos.
Cibola National Forest - from personal experience we have visited Springtime Campground ( http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/cibola/recreation/rec-mag.shtml
) and dispersed camped along the road toward it. Springtime is a very out of the way campsite, remote area. We visited it while wood cutting and hunting. It is a long ways on a dirt road to it. We have visited Red Cloud
Campground over by Corona, NM also a remote area while hunting and dispersed camped near Corona on US 54( http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/cibola/recre...ec-mtair.shtml
). To find other campgrounds check this site: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/cibola/recreation/index.shtml
Gila National Forest - from personal experience, Lake Roberts Area is nice and we have dispersed in the Wall Lake area and Snow Lake area. Also by the Bridge over Gila River on the way to the Cliff Dwellings called Grapevine Campground ( http://www2.srs.fs.fed.us/r3/gila/re...reccampdet.asp
) & the near by Forks Campground ( http://www2.srs.fs.fed.us/r3/gila/re...reccampdet.asp
). Mesa Campground is walking distance from Lake Roberts ( http://www2.srs.fs.fed.us/r3/gila/re...reccampdet.asp
Iron Creek Campground is in the middle of a recreational corridor spanning from the Mimbres Valley to Hillsboro, along NM Hwy 152 ( http://www2.srs.fs.fed.us/r3/gila/re...reccampdet.asp
) a great drive, very scenic. The Quemado Ranger District is the northern most district on the Gila National Forest. It is actually a part of the Apache National Forest that is located in New Mexico and that is administered by the Gila NF. Elevations range from 6600 feet to 9700 feet in the 600,600 acres managed by the Quemado Ranger District. The area covered by the District includes grassland, piñon-juniper woodland, ponderosa pine, and mixed conifer with aspen and fir. There are also riparian areas with cottonwood, willow, and other riparian vegetation. Very nice camping areas by Quemado Lake. See a listing of other campgrounds in the Gila at: http://www2.srs.fs.fed.us/r3/gila/re...?activity=camp
Kiowa National Grassland - have not gotten to use this area. http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/cibola/recre...ec-kiowa.shtml
Lincoln National Forest - from personal experience the camping around Cloudcroft is very good. We have mainly used the campgrounds or dispersed camping area by the Silver, Apache & Saddle Campgrounds on the Hwy going to Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation on NM 244. Sacramento Ranger District.
Smokey Bear Ranger District
Sacramento Ranger District
Guadalupe Ranger District
Rita Blanca National Grassland - not gotten to visit. http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/cibola/recre...ec-kiowa.shtml
Santa Fe National Forest - we have camped up above Santa Fe at Black Canyon, I think, and over by Las Vegas, we dispersed camped. We have heard good things about camping over by Pecos 16 to 23 miles north of Pecos on Highway 63 and Forest Road 122 at Holy Ghost, Iron Gate & Jack's Creek. We visited Jemez Falls a very nice area. Here is a listing of campgrounds: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/sfe/recreation/camping.html
Other site on these Nat'l Forests:
• Santa Fe
In Arizona, Canyon de Chelly National Monument http://www.nps.gov/cach/
Arizona and Texas Campgrounds
Arizona State Parks: http://www.pr.state.az.us/find/f_fac_camping.html
Alamo Lake State Park
Buckskin Mountain State Park
Cattail Cove State Park
River Island State Park
I do not know anything about these, except many are perhaps on the Colorado River.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Homolovi Ruins State Park
I have heard Dead Horse is nice.
Catalina State Park
Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area
Lost Dutchman State Park
Lyman Lake State Park
Catalina is by Tucson & I have heard it is nice as is Lost Dutchman by Phoenix. Lyman Lake was nice, we stayed a night there years ago.
Kartchner Caverns State Park
Patagonia Lake State Park
Picacho Peak State Park
Roper Lake State Park
Picacho Peak State Park is currently closed to all public entry. The park is scheduled to re-open in the Fall
of 2008. Kartchner Caverns, Patagonia Lake, Picacho Peak and Roper Lake should be nice ones.
These National Parks would be nice but would not have electric hook ups more than likely: http://www.nps.gov/state/AZ/
Canyon de Chelly by Chinle is great with a free campground and showers. Been there want to go again. http://www.nps.gov/cach/
Chiricahua National Monument by Willcox is great, been there will go back.
Grand Canyon both sides are really nice, the south side by Flagstaff is close to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument with camping nearby where we have stayed to see the area. (There is no camping in the monument. However, Bonito Campground, operated by the US Forest Service, is located across from the visitor center at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This campground is generally open from late May through mid-October. There are no hook-ups.). There are nice campgrounds on the north side at the park and if full in the Nat'l Forest just before getting into the park. We stayed outside the park when there in summer and park cg was full. Grand Canyon http://www.nps.gov/grca/
Sunset Crater http://www.nps.gov/sucr/
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument by Ajo has camping but is out in the outback for sure. Never been there. http://www.nps.gov/orpi/
Navajo National Monument is located at the end of State Highway 564 off of US Highway 160. We have not been to this one but sounds very interesting. Two campgrounds, one open all year, somewhat isolated but no fees are charged. http://www.nps.gov/nava/
Pipe Spring National Monument is15 miles west of Fredonia, AZ. Off the beaten path, isolated with no camping at the Monument. But BLM land near by and other campgrounds. We have not been to this one.
BLM and other sites in Arizona web site:
Close by Chiricahua Nat'l Mon there is the neat ruins of a fort, some hiking to get to it. Fort Bowie National Historic Site is worth the 3 mile round-trip walk for the best experience of Fort Bowie National Historic Site. If you physically can not walk the trail, please contact the visitor center staff at 520-847-2500 for directions to the alternate access.
In the Bisbee Area: The town itself is neat to walk around in and we enjoyed the art galleries. The Queen Mine Tour was neat, we enjoyed it. Tombstone is very tourist trap site, if you get my meaning. The old Court House was interesting. Site of a lot of wild west history, but very commercial.
Near Wilcox is The Amerind Foundation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amerind_Foundation
) a ethnological, anthropological, archaeological museum and art gallery with paintings by 20th century Anglo and Native American artists. We enjoyed the art gallery and the museum. A neat out of the way, hidden site in the boulders of Texas Canyon. The Amerind is located in Cochise County, one mile south of Interstate 10, only about an hour east of Tucson, between Benson and Willcox. It is easy to find - just look for Dragoon Road exit, #318, and head south until you see mile marker 1 on one side of the road and the Amerind entrance on the other. http://www.amerind.org/
Cochise Strong Hold is in the same area. http://www.cochisestronghold.com/
In the Tucson area: Saguaro National Park near Tucson is great to see. Two sections seperated by Tucson. East and West.
No campground at either but there is camping very near the West as well as some not far on the East. We have never camped in them but we have visited the Nat'l Park both West and East.
The Sonoran Desert Museum is really great (a zoo mainly without bars mostly) is over on the west side of Tucson by the Saguaro Nat'l Park and Old Tucson (the movie set/theme park). The Sonoran Desert Museum is a must see for sure. http://www.desertmuseum.org/
Texas State Parks are really nice: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/
South Llano River State Park adjoins Walter Buck Wildlife Management Area, south of Junction is great as is Pedernales Falls State Park in Blanco County east of Johnson City. We have been to both. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findade...th_llano_river/
Balmorhea State Park is located in the foothills of the Davis Mountains southwest of Balmorhea and nearby Davis Mountains State Park (along with the famous Big Bend Nat'l Park) are very nice places and one could spend a long time at each. Been to all except Davis, but it is nice areas, be sure to visit the old Ft. Davis a nice place to see.
Goose Island State Park, surrounded by the St. Charles and Aransas Bays, is located north of Rockport & near Freeport in Aransas County. Nice area by the Gulf of Mexico. I want to do this one someday.
Mustang Island State Park with about 5 miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico in Nueces County, south of Port Aransas. We liked this one for the beach.
Lake Corpus Christi State Park southwest of Mathis was a nice one. But not very close to Corpus. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findade...corpus_christi/
Goliad State Park is located by Goliad with a nice campground on the San Antonio River. (a lot of Texas History in this area, some from same time as the famous Alamo fight: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/f...spiritu_santo/
) Been to it and would go back.
Falcon State Park is located north of Roma at the southern end of the International Falcon Reservoir in Starr and Zapata Counties. A lot of snow birds winter in this area.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park is located east of Mineral Wells in Parker County. I would like to visit it someday. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findade..._mineral_wells/
Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site is located west of Comstock near Langtry in Val Verde County. I have this one on my to see list someday. We have stopped at the Langtry Visitor Center. I love the history of the area.
Monahans Sandhills State Park is about a half-hour's drive west of Odessa. A neat place.
Big Bend National Park is located in southwest Texas, hundreds of miles from the nearest cities, the isolation of Big Bend is a drawing point for many visitors, it also means that your trip must be well prepared and carefully planned. Several highways lead to Big Bend National Park: TX 118 from Alpine to Study Butte or FM 170 from Presidio to Study Butte (then 26 miles east to park headquarters) or US 90 or US 385 to Marathon (then 70 miles south to park headquarters). Distances between towns and services can be considerable. Always be sure you have plenty of gas, oil, food, and water for your trip. The park has four camper stores, but supply and selection can be limited. There are also small stores in the communities outside the park. The last major shopping areas (grocery and hardware stores) are Alpine, Fort Stockton, and Del Rio. http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm