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Old 12-04-2015, 07:45 AM   #1
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Carlsbad Caverns travel from Fort Stockton

We are in a 45' motorhome and have read that highway 285 toCarlsbad is very bad. One person said the potholes could swallow you! Just wondering what recent experiences anyone has had, and if it is better to go north on RT 180. Read some good reviews on Brantley State Park and the KOA but they are rather far north. Any other suggestions? Just thinking if it is too hard on the coach to maybe go instead to Kaercher Caverns, as our final destination in 2 weeks is Tucson. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Sandy and Andrei with Ziggy Labradoodle
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:16 AM   #2
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NM and TX roads could be better but no worse than states in high heat. Lived near Carlsbad for 22 years. Go visit the area, best to visit the caverns in a 4 wheeler.

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Old 12-04-2015, 08:26 AM   #3
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Can't help u with roads as my trip threw there was a LONG time ago...

brings back memories of the BIG roadrunner statue entering town
and the tow truck for the old dodge 318 based class C to the shop when it wouldn't start on our way to carlsbad and grand canyon...

Went I do recall going through Pecos to see Judge Roy Beans haunts about the 'Law west of the Pecos"

Had my son with us celebrating his 1st birthday in the grand canyon park !

You are in for a treat... go by the Petrified forest - worth the trip !
'11 Monaco Diplomat 43DFT RR10R pushed by a '14 Jeep Wrangler JKU. History.. 5'ers: 13 Redwood 38gk, 11 MVP Destiny, Open Range TT, popups, vans, tents...
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:36 AM   #4
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Can't say much about 285 but we were there in Feb. We traveled hwy62 down to San Antonio with no problem. We went from there to El Paso and then to Tuscon. Really nice trip.

Carlsbad is a spectacular thing to see. Also the town is interesting with some good places to eat. Try the "No Whiner Diner".

We stayed in town at a pretty good CG on the west side of town. The CG at the caverns looked pretty bad.
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:01 PM   #5
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We did the caverns the first week of Oct. We stayed at Whites City campground, in hopes of seeing the bats emergence and for a close shot into the park in the morning. Campground is basic, but works, and had full hookups.

After the cave, (that does have some RV and Bus parking) we headed to I-20, and then south to Ft. Davis. We used a ranch road, 720 to connect from 285 to White City, and it was not a good choice due to it's rough condition, and lots of debris in the low water crossings. We drove 285 S, in some mist and rain, to Pecos. With all the oil field service traffic, maybe 100+ 18 wheelers, it was a mess. The amount of truck traffic has damaged lots of roadways in Texas. Plus they are coming onto the highway often from gravel field roads, or service yards. The coach and Jeep were a total mess after the short 90 miles. I stopped in Pecos, and washed the rear view camera with my long handle brush, before getting on I-20. If you have a dry day, you might get up the road, without trashing your coach and toad. The other huge concern is oncoming truck speeds, and over taking trucks and the rocks they throw up as well.

But the Caverns and the Visitor Center are not to be missed.
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:58 PM   #6
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We did Carlsbad last spring. We came from the east in I-20, stayed in Monhan's Sand Hills State Park, traveled from I-20 north on 285 to Carlsbad (standard TX highway - don't remember anything good or bad), took the shortcut on 720 (rough road - not recommended), stayed at White's City RV Park (nothing special), left headed west on 180 (good road, very scenic).

We enjoyed our visit at the Caverns.
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Old 12-04-2015, 05:11 PM   #7
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Not sure on the recent status of 285 out of Fort Stockton but have taken it a few years ago and it was just fine with our 40' motorhome.

Another option would be to pick up Hwy 54 out of Van Horn on I-10 which will take you through Guadalupe Nat'l Park and head east. We've stayed at Brantley Lake St Park and found it very nice.

You won't be seeing the bats at Carlsbad as they're vacationing right now. However, the caverns are very nice. If you do them on your own you could do as we did, first, rent the 'wand' which speaks to you about the formations as you walk by them. Then enter the caverns where the bats exit for a nice walking route.

On your way to Tucson, definitely stop a few days in Benson. You can easily tour Tombstone (more fun if you're there on a weekend) and also include in that trip, Bisbee. The underground mine tour at Bisbee is very well done. You don a yellow slicker and a helmet with a headlight and get on a mining car to take you in the mine. Minimal walking on this tour. It is given by former miners and is very informative.

Then definitely take a tour of Kartchner Caverns and the Throne Room. You will be amazed at the differences between Carlsbad and Kartchner. Kartchner is a living cave and still growing so you'll see a lot of wet formations. The lighting is awesome. It's a fairly new park and it's very well done. The history is very interesting. The campground is set in a beautiful location and has electric. (We gave the tours)

Have a great trip!
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Old 12-05-2015, 09:33 AM   #8
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My "thanks" to sailwing2003 got cut off. I think another time in the car may be better when we have more time. Not looking for stones hitting a new coach! Will go to Kartcher this time instead. Maybe hit Carlsbad on way back, going up 180 instead. Everyone, Much appreciated for your input!
Sandy and Andrei with Ziggy Labradoodle
2016 Anthem 44B, formerly 2014 Aspire 42DEQ
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Old 12-05-2015, 11:06 AM   #9
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Last time we traveled US285 North of Pecos, Tx to Carlsbad, NM ... it was without a doubt the worst US Hwy we have ever encountered in the CONUS. This was just about a year ago. The overloaded oilfield truck traffic has taken a real toll on the road and some of the pot holes were big enough to be dangerous. Also had a oilfield truck that we met, kick up a chunk of asphalt and put a big ding in the windshield. I was lucky enough to find a windshield repair place in Carlsbad to take care of it. I grew up in Pecos, and have spend countless hours driving US 285 between there and Carlsbad ... it is worse than I could ever have imagined. I suppose there could have been some repairs made in the past year, but with the amount of rain they have had and no slow down in the oil fields, I wouldn't expect the road to be much better.

If you decided to go that way, please let us know how it is nowadays!
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Old 12-05-2015, 11:22 AM   #10
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It looks like some of our kind members have pretty well filled you in on the highway situation. But I saw in your original post that you knew about the KOA north of Carlsbad. I stayed there a few years ago and hopefully management has changed. I pulled in late in the afternoon with my well experienced Discovery and have never before nor ever since been treated with such indifference. Ever since then, KOA ranks below Wally World parking lots and roadside rest areas. Just my opinion.....
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Old 12-11-2015, 11:37 AM   #11
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We took 285 off of Hwy10 November 2014 at 2:30 a.m. We drove straight into the Brantly Lake State Park campground for a few hours of sleep, (the KOA was full).

I don't recall having any issues with potholes.

I do recall having issues with a bunch of darkness and a whole lot of nothing but the road in my headlights, except for the occasional crazy tanker trucks and late-to-work oil workers driving 85mph to get to their site, (the road passes through an oil field).

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