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Old 02-24-2015, 11:18 AM   #1
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Boondocking or camp site in NE Arizona/NW New Mexico?

Hi All,
We have a trip planned at the end of March for about 3 weeks going to Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Zion, and points in betwween. Problem is there doesn't seem to be many advertised places to camp for one night between Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde via I40. We're traveling with kids and want to see Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest on the way, so with stops and sight seeing the day would be too long and need a place to stay. But I can't find very much!
I don't mind the idea of boondocking, haven't done too much of it yet. But, DW would quickly veto the Wally World/truck stop ideas. We are a family of six in a 32' MH with Toad, so the idea of security would be paramount. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Thanks, Tom
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Old 02-24-2015, 11:44 AM   #2
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Have you looked at Gouldings in Monument Valley?
1994 Brave 29RQ RV: Monument Valley - Gouldings Campground

http://www.gouldings.com/

Great place to stay, about half way between Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde. It isn't on I-40. You have to go on 160 the more northern route.
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Old 02-24-2015, 11:55 AM   #3
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Not boondocking sites, but, there is an RV park at Meteor Crater:

Meteor Crater RV Park Overview » Meteor Crater

While at the crater, see if the kids can find the astronaut.

Additionally, there is a great RV park in Gallup:

http://www.usarvpark.com/

And, our favorite RV park as close to Mesa Verde as you can get is;

http://www.mesaverdervresort.com/

There is an RV park inside Mesa Verde, however it isn't open until April 30th:

http://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/camping2.htm

Please be aware that the end of March can still be a snowy/cold time of the year in the Mesa Verde area, as well as Zion, and points in between.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:57 PM   #4
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Red Rocks State park near Gallup.
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:00 PM   #5
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Thanks Pagosajoe! USA RV Park looks good, we might go with that. Though your list just demonstrates my dilemma, once you get past Metro Crater, there just isn't much out there. Which I figure is about where we will be looking for the overnight stop. Thanks again! Keep the ideas coming!
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:46 PM   #6
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We boondock about 10 months out of the year and use freecampsites.net to find places to investigate. A quick search found McHood Park in Winslow, AZ. I have NOT stayed there... i'm just pointing to freecampsites as a place to start looking.
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Old 02-24-2015, 08:04 PM   #7
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An excellent boondocking spot plus they even have a few electric sites (but in March you won't need air conditioning), is at the entrance of Petrified Forest Nat'l Park.


Take I-40 from Grand Canyon, visit Meteor Crater, and continue on I-40 to Holbrook. Pick up Hwy 180 south and drive approx. 20 miles to the national park entrance road. At the corner will be the Crystal Rock Shop which offers boondocking spots next door along with a few electric sites.


Next morning, drive the park road through Petrified Forest Nat'l Park which will take you back out to I-40.


We've stayed there a few times. The rock shop is an interesting place to explore, too.
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Old 02-25-2015, 10:57 AM   #8
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Thanks for the link, kjackson! That looks like a great site!! I'm going to be exploring that one a lot in the coming weeks. Looking at the site just verifies the problem I was having, there just isn't much in NE Arizona/NW New Mexico.

I see the one you're talking about two gypsies on freecampsites.net and that one looks good, too! Is there much noise from the road nearby? Or is it really "as out in the middle of nowhere" as it appears?
Thanks for the replies!
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Old 02-25-2015, 11:45 AM   #9
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Hi Tom,

There are some excellent sites south of Gallup. Take highway 400 south (the exit is just east of Gallup). About 8 miles or so there is a forest service campground (Quaking Aspen) on the west side of the road. There are many boondocking sites on the east and west sides. If you get all the way to McGaffey, you've went too far. It will likely be fairly cold at this altitude (8,500') at that time of year. Not sure if the campground will be open that early in the season but the boondocking sites certainly are.

Took these elk photos from a boondocking spot just slightly south and east of the Quaking Aspen campground.

I should add, if you or the kids mountain bike - the trails in this area are fantastic. The main trailhead is just north of the Quaking Aspen campground but the trails are everywhere.
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:07 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Percival6 View Post
I see the one you're talking about two gypsies on freecampsites.net and that one looks good, too! Is there much noise from the road nearby? Or is it really "as out in the middle of nowhere" as it appears?
Thanks for the replies!
Road noise is minimal. Yes, it seems to be out in the middle of nowhere (LOL) as there are few businesses around. Petrified Forest is basically a 'drive through' park with pull-outs to explore a little on foot. The park itself doesn't have a campground. You just enter one direction and exit the other.
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:08 PM   #11
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If you like excitement, and nerves of steel, do that route 160 towards Mesa Verde. Pretty sure it takes you over "Wolf Creek Pass", made famous in the "convoy" song. And one other pass. Both are an adventure. Go for it !!!!!!
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:47 PM   #12
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If you want to throw Monument Valley in the mix, look at Goosenecks State Park. We are going to stop there for one night in Apr on the way south from Moab. It is dry camping with a view overlooking the San Juan Gorge. No hookups, no reservations, $10. It is north of Monument Valley off of 163, past Mexican Hat. We drove right past it last Oct, going up the Moki Dugway (UT 261), which is an adventure of it own. Didn't know Goosenecks SP existed at the time.
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom3205 View Post
If you like excitement, and nerves of steel, do that route 160 towards Mesa Verde. Pretty sure it takes you over "Wolf Creek Pass", made famous in the "convoy" song. And one other pass. Both are an adventure. Go for it !!!!!!
Wolf Creek Pass is east of Mesa Verde on highway 160 by about 125 miles. There was a total of 34 inches of snow that fell yesterday. We live in Pagosa springs (also mentioned in "Convoy"), and had only 24 inches. Yup - nerves of steel required, especially this time of the year.
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Old 02-25-2015, 06:44 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the ideas and tips!

Micd, while that normally would be the most logical and direct route (I started planning it that way) we want to stop at Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest on the way so I-40 it is. We will be returning that way, but don't know if Goulding's is at a point to stop for the night. Planning to stop anyways to look around.

On another note, what does everyone recommend for Monument Valley? Drop the toad and drive it or take the MH?

JD, I was looking at those on the freecampsites.net site, I was wondering if they would be a little cold/accessible this time year. They look nice, and not too far out of the way.

Twogypsies, the PFNP looks almost as much of detour as a destination, but I'm sure we will all enjoy the "trees". I was looking on Google Maps and noticed that the Painted Desert Visitor Center at the I-40 exit for the PFNP appears to have several campsites adjacent to it. Do you know anything about those? Not sure if they are for NP employees or visitors, similar to the Gift Shop campsites.

Tom and PagosaJoe, Thanks for the recommendation/warning! I think for the sake of my marriage and kids lives, we will avoid going that direction on 160. At first I thought you were saying it was west of Mesa Verde and I was quickly going to look for a different route, as that is the direction we are heading after MVNP.

Scotty, Thanks for the tip! I will add that to the list of stops it looks amazing! Very similar to Dead Horse Poin SP near Moab. We will be heading that direction and through Monument Valley on our way to Zion NP From Mesa Verde.

Thanks again to all for the great ideas.
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