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Rather hard to find the road onto the correct road to get to the right road! Once headed to the west look for the sign taking you to the right into a dry wash. Follow the arroyo past a giant "bread loaf" that is a geological unconformity. Drive into an abrupt canyon with straight walls and side slots. Eventually you run into a rock wall that can be traversed by scrambling around it and continue 1/2 mile to a short pour-off. Camping is allowed but be aware of flash floods. It's a narrow canyon with only one way out. A parallel road just to the south of San Lorenzo Canyon is all on BLM land (dispersed camping). Pack it in, pack it out.
We just arrived at this free campground. Concrete picnic tables and fire rings provided. We are surrounded by what looks to me like oak trees, but I have yet to confirm that. It reminds me of my home state of Minnesota!
We are near the Rio Grande Bosque, and are looking forward to our ventures observing the migratory birds of the area.
Drove down the night before in order to go climbing the next day. Found a decent spot in a dry wash to put up the tent for the night. It worked and allowed quick access to the crag in the morning. Does start to get busy with climbers fairly early (8am or so). Would be perfect for somebody with a camper-van or teardrop.
I visited this magical place. It is absolutely beautiful. During the day the myriad of plants are enchanting. At night the stars and sounds otherworldly. And the healing energy of Michaela and Ernesto brought me back into light. Forever grateful.
Mother Bosque Gardens is a little retreat in an urban Albuquerque neighborhood. I’ll admit, for me, it was a first for camping in a backyard (that wasn’t my own). Ernesto and Michaela, our hosts, were immediately welcoming and kind. They feel like we could have known them for a lifetime, even though we’ve only met for minutes. Upon arrival, they gave us the tour, and even offered to share a bowl of the aromatic soup simmering upon their stove.
Campsite and Amenities
The campsites (I believe there are two tent sites) are located on the two opposite sides of the house. They are both very private and remarkably quiet. The quiet was surprising being in a city, but it was quieter than many campgrounds we’ve stayed where other groups of campers may be playing music or chatting (loudly) by the fires. The campsite has a private entrance through a gate; parking is off the street. Our campsite space in the side yard, had a table, a couch, and a grill. As stated on the website, and in the Dyrt details, there are no campfires allowed. Michaela and Ernesto welcomed us to use their kitchen, although we preferred some mother and daughter time outdoors during our stay. The tranquil backyard is towered over by old growth trees, and the gardening is exquisite. We shared the space with hummingbirds and roses. The clean bathroom is inside the home where there is a shower available. Michaela and Ernesto even offered the use of their towels. My daughter quickly pointed out that there is Wi-Fi.
The location is very near to the Rio Grande River and the Bosque, which is the natural forest that runs along the Rio Grande. My daughter and I left early in the morning to explore the banks of the flooded Rio Grande (May), and noted the many remarkable birds: violet green swallows swooping along the river exposing their vibrant colors, ducks, egrets, herons, a red-tailed hawk, and several Canadian Geese. We sadly missed the wily roadrunner with three babies in tow. The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park was an excellent starting point for the Bosque.
Mother Bosque Gardens is also located only a few miles from the heart of old Albuquerque, including Old Town, the zoo, the botanical gardens, and the excitement of Central Avenue.
As noted on the website, the camp space can only accommodate an 8X8 tent; it may accommodate two smaller tents. We’ve shared a photo of a standard 2-person backpacking tent set up in the space. I believe the website lists a maximum of three campers in the site. A family with children exceeding a total of 3, who can manage to sleep in tents that meet the size restriction, might consider contacting Michaela and Ernesto for permission to bring more than three. Finally, there is a small walk from the parking at the front of the house to the campsite, so plan to make sure your gear is portable enough to carry it the 75-ish feet (I’m not a good judge of distance so it may be anywhere from 40 feet to 100).
My daughter and I planned to spend a day in Albuquerque for some quality time. In honor of new experiences, we tried something new for us by staying at Mother Bosque Gardens. We were both incredibly happy that we did. We had a wonderful experience not only camping in a beautiful garden, but from the opportunity to meet Michaela and Ernesto. We were welcomed strangers, but I couldn’t help but feel like we departed from friends.
Fine print about my ratings
When I use a star rating system, I truly do consider 3 out of 5 to be average and expected. Anything above three stars is superb and awe-inspiring. I save 5 out of 5 for what I feel is the most enchanted locations. After all, dishing out a 5 for every spot I like wouldn’t help other campers (as it doesn’t help me in return). I consider it rather difficult to provide a star rating for Mother Bosque Gardens because it was such a unique experience for me. As hosts, I would absolutely give Ernesto and Michaela a 5 out of 5. The campsite has some natural limitations as compared to a traditional site, so while the campsite was very comfortable, when compared with large campsites surrounded Giant Sequoias or a serene alpine lake, well…that’s just hard to beat. So, I’ve settled on a 4 out of 5.
Booking with The Dyrt
I had the honor and pleasure of booking this trip through The Dyrt even as they were still rolling out the bookings. I found the process to be simple and effective.
10-15 down 60 west of Socorro you'll find "the box" climbing area. This is on BLM land, and there is no trash pick-up or other managed facilities here, so camping is at your own discretion and you MUST leave the area as you found it (or better). There is a vault toilet at the main parking lot as you drive in, and if you drive further up the road there is a small pull-off with a couple of simple fire-pits where you will likely find a couple other climbers camping. Please be responsible about your food, trash and making a fire. There is loads of good climbing in the area and it's a great place to set up camp for a few days, but don't ruin that privilege for everyone by mistreating the area. Follow pack-in, pack-out, LNT and common sense rules.
Finding this little park on the banks of the Rio Grande just outside of town in the dark would have been unlikely without the very specific directions given to us at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center. “From the blinking light go east for 0.7 miles and turn left on the dirt road between the canal and the river.” Sure enough, there it is.
This small campground has about 5 sites, with picnic tables, but offers no other services—no water, fire rings or even toilets. But as the directions say, it’s close to town and it’s FREE. So, on a day where we spent most of the afternoon and watched the sunset while in the National Wildlife Refuge, this campsite served us well. We even planned to get up before sunrise to watch the birds take to the sky from their night-time roosting areas, so we weren’t there long.
The wildlife refuge is a birder’s paradise during the late fall and winter. Species of Sand Hill Cranes, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, and a multitude of ducks winter here feeding on grain grown in nearby fields and roosting overnight in the shallow wetlands. The numbers of birds are overwhelming, and awe-inspiring. But when we learned that the Sand Hill Cranes have been making this journey for nearly 10 million years, we were simply blown away.
There are plenty of opportunities for other recreation in the area, road cycling, mountain biking, hiking and motor-sports. As we pulled out of the campground, we noticed a beach buggy cruising by which looked as cool as it was retro – total ‘70s style. There are other free, “dry camps” in the area, BLM land, etc. as well as a few other RV parks offering shorter or longer stays.