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Cochiti lake NM.

This is a great U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground. Great level sites with water and 50amp power for RVs and water at tent sites. Clean restrooms with showers. No sewer hookups but dump stations. Stays are limited to14 days, RVspaces are $20 tent sites are $14, 50% discount if you have an Access pass. Fishing docks at the lake, boating (no wake) hiking trails and lots to see and do in the area.

Cochiti lake NM.

This is a great U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground. Great level sites with water and 50amp power for RVs and water at tent sites. Clean restrooms with showers. No sewer hookups but dump stations. Stays are limited to14 days, RVspaces are $20 tent sites are $14, 50% discount if you have an Access pass. Fishing docks at the lake, boating (no wake) hiking trails and lots to see and do in the area.

Ranger Review: Red Ledge Free Rein Jacket in and Around the Valles Caldera

Campground Review: 

Imagine 1.25 Ma ago an eruption blew apart the landscape of Northern New Mexico that would rival the shear volume erupted by the world famous Yellowstone hotspot!  Jemez Falls and its namesake campground are the closest, largest, and most developed CG to the Valles Caldera proper and the entrance to the caldera's access roads.  The Jemez Falls CG is more developed than the nearby primitive (dispersed) sites that surround the flanks of the caldera proper, this CG offers 50 single sites and 2 double sites, $10 and $50 respectively.  Most of the sites can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 40' in length with good options for tent camping as well.  Each site has the usual metal fire ring, along with picnic tables and a paved driveway/parking area.  You can reserve sites from mid May through Mid September.

Even if you plan to stay here for a couple weeks (which is the limit) you'll have more than enough to keep you preoccupied!  If you want to drive around and hike or fish in the caldera proper then you will need to go to the Valles Caldera Visitors Center and buy a pass.  They typically cost $25 but when we visited during the International Balloon Fiesta the fee was waived.  If they are charging when you arrive, you can also use your National Parks Pass to get entrance.  Be sure to arrive early on the weekends as they restrict the # of permits they hand out.

Now with all this exposed rock you know there's going to be some amazing climbing!  All of the rock in the immediate area was created by the caldera and related volcanic and magmatic activity in the area in the past few million years.  This gives you the opportunity to climb on some "bulletproof" welded tuff (hardened volcanic ash) much like what exists at the world famous Smith Rock State Park in Oregon.  If you want to find out more about the interesting geology of the area you can look Here

Product Review:

Being a Ranger for the Dyrt allows us to test and review gear from time to time!  This time we got to test out the Men's Free Rein Jacket by Red Ledge.

Pros:

  • First thing I want to say about this jacket is that it is super cheap for a rain jacket this rugged and with this many features!  It was only ~90$ after shipping and is comparable to some of my other jackets that were 2-3x as much! 
  • I also really liked the mesh fabric on the inner portion of the breast pockets.  It added another dimension of breath ability to the jacket to prevent condensation from building up on the inside.  This was a nice addition to the gusseted armpits flaps to help air out.
  • The last thing I really liked about this jacket was the amount of high-vis color options you had to choose from!  I went with the Hi-Vis Orange which is close to a hunters orange and came in very handy as there was active hunting while we were hiking in the Valles Caldera.

Cons:

  • There were only a couple of things that we thought could have been improved.  The first was to have the armpit openings be meshed on the inside to prevent it from opening wide up.  We really liked that feature in the breast/side pockets and wished it had been incorporated into the armpits as well.
  • The other thing was the inability to zip the jacket from the top or bottom, which would have allowed you to kind of blouse the bottom of the jacket.  

Score: 4/5

  • While other jackets have more features, this is a great, durable rain jacket at a price point that is reasonable and affordable for most.  This was a great jacket to test and I anticipate using it for many more rainstorms and windy belays in the future.
Not a Campground but Offers Amazing Access!

This is one of the best day use areas that we visited while on a 2 day tour in and around the Valles Caldera!  It has over 250 climbing routes spread out along the East Fork of the Jemez River with something for every level of climber!  The belay areas are nice and flat and the approach will at most take you an hour to get to the furthest walls.  Some of the climbs even allow for setting up top ropes from the tops of the cliffs.  You can access the cattle wall easily from the east parking lot but if you want to walk along the creek then use the parking lot that is to the west.  If you plan on staying overnight then the closest developed campground is the Jemez Falls CG just up the road to the west.

Great Spot for Free Camping before the Caldera!

This is a nice secluded dispersed campsite on the eastern flanks of the Valles Caldera.  It's the closest CG to Sante Fe along the 4 before it enters the caldera proper.  While most of the trees in this area were burnt by fires less than 10 years ago, it still provides great views of the valley below and the highest mountains in all of New Mexico!  The campground has no amenities so bring everything you'll need and bring along a high clearance vehicle if you plan on heading up the road beyond the campsites that are right off the pavement to the right.

Besides exploring the caldera there are plenty of amazing things to do in nearby Sante Fe!  Our favorite attraction was the MeowWolf permanent art exhibit.  It's an absolutely amazing surreal piece of art that you walk through and interact.  I cannot stress enough how much you should visit because in addition to being an art pillar in New Mexico they also contribute to local and soon regional art and philanthropic endeavors.

Nice park

The park is great with beautiful views. The problem is the 12 miles of access road riddled with large& deep pot holes. They don't care about maintaining it either. If you value your vehicle or rv avoid this park at the low rates, can you afford to bend an axle?

Beautiful

High altitude early fall camping. Woke up to brisk fall morning covered in ice from overnight sleet. Tall standing pines made campground awesome place to stay.

Great COE camping

There are 4 different loops, from the oldest (30 amps) water nearby, the the newest section. Dry camping with a view. We are in the Buffalo section. 50 / 30 amps along with water. Very nice shade structure with table. 

Sites range from very good to ok. Washrooms are clean. 

Nights are quite along with stars. Can be winding but this makes it cool in the daytime. 

Lots of places to walk, from 1 to 5 miles. 

I would rate this 5 stars, but the CampGround host should be out cleaning up the weeds on the sites. But I have never seen them.

My favorite campground so far!

Small primitive campground! Beautiful scenery. Adorable little creek right there. Vault bathrooms were clean, but we were there early in the season. Big trees all around. Still some snow on the ground.

Love this campground!!!

Getting here is like driving through a secret little road, and once you get there, it’s amazing! It’s really serene and peaceful, and the hosts are great!!! Will be there again!!!

Unusually Quiet

I did a fair amount of research online regarding walk-in tent camping at Heron Lake, during the week. See the great maps and detail at https://newmexicostateparks.reserveamerica.com/camping/heron-lake/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NM&parkId=430012 . I called the visitor center to confirm that being a walk-in would not be a problem during the week. Once one arrives as a walk-in, look for the campsites with a green tag on them.

The Heron Lake camp sites shown at the above reserveamerica website all have a fair amount of trees for shade. What the reserveamerica site does not show is a few more Heron Lake campgrounds southwest along Highway 95 (beyond the dam). The southwesterly sites are way more exposed to the sun than the first four campgrounds. Otherwise, the southwesterly campgrounds have fine views of the lake.

I was at Island View campground, in a loop that was convoluted enough that I do not think a trailer (with its inevitable noisy generator) could get in. I guess that this is the point. As a result, all I heard from time to time were muffled voices and no generators. It's the first tent spring-summer-fall camping I have enjoyed in years that was generator-free. I had at least one empty campsite on either side of me as an additional buffer to noise.

I walked along the lakeshore. It did not seem that low. I saw large fish jumping in one cove. I hiked the Salmon Run Trail to the dam. The Salmon Run Trail is a beautiful hike, not all level but not too steep for this older person's knees and walking poles. On the lake side of the dam, walking along the highway to get a good look at the dam, I saw several schools of large fish.

The vault bathrooms and the flush-toilet bathrooms were fine. Not super clean and not super dirty. I did not try the shower but it looked like people were using it.

This time of year, bring some bug repellent or wear jeans and a light long sleeve shirt at night. New Mexico has had a lot of moisture this season, so I think the bug-giness is higher than usual. Still, I sat outside and read for an hour or so pretty comfortably.

The camp host was lovely.

A beautiful place...

…to spend a day with the family. Fenton lake is a popular local spot for picnicking and fishing. The scenery here is absolutely stunning, you’d almost think you’re in a postcard. Plenty of sites with tables and grills. This definitely isn’t a campsite as they close at sundown so no camping. The fishing is okay here. Better if you have a small boat or kayak and can get further from the shore.

Dispersed Lakeside sites

Down HWY 322, there are 3 primitive sites along side the El Vade Lake. Well marked and easy to find. No facilities. First come first serve, but we didn't see a soul the whole weekend. Sites aren't well established, so you will have to clear a spot. Road is pretty rough and narrow. There is a walk to the lake with no paths. Lots of weeds and plants that will stick to you and your pups. Little shade available. Make sure to grab a permit and have cash - cost is $10 a night per car.

Typical desert lake

Heron Lake has several campgrounds with most sites being first come first serve. Most sites have a lake view. There is a good walking distance to the water and very little shade. Lots of wildlife here! We saw deer, coyotes and bear droppings. Sites are kinda spaced out, have benches, fire rings and cost $10 a night per car. We came with intentions of paddle boarding but it was way too windy! It can get crowded on the weekends, but you'd have the place all to yourself during the week.

Peaceful getaway

We stayed here over the Easter Holiday. We were on Lot 2 in the Willow creek section. For $14, we had f/u hook-ups. I think Lot 1 & 2 are the only lots with full hook ups. I didn't use the facilities, so I can comment on those. Our campsite was big enough for our rig and a tent. We had picnic table (made of concrete, so you can move it) Firepit (don't know if they sell wood, because we couldn't find anyone working or a camp host) We basically had the park to ourselves. We did take a couple of hikes. One was to the lake, which was sadly almost empty. There was very spotty Verizon cell phone and dish satellite. There is not much of a town, so make sure you're fueled up and have all your camping provisions. I would like to try and stay here again, maybe in the summer. Elevations are up there 7000 ft, so I think it would be nice and cool.

Wide open with nice views of the lake

If you like privacy, this is not the campground for you.  Nor if you like to have a beer in the open.  Don't get me wrong, it's an acceptable campground, but a little exposed and tightly controlled (we called them the beer police).  We had booked three nights, but stayed only two.  It was fine if you were going to go boating, but for hiking or chilling at your campsite, it left a little to be desired. 

We had to disguise our adult beverages, so as not to arouse suspicion from the beer police.  I'm too old for that.  The lack of any privacy was sort of off putting too. 

We did enjoy a beautiful sunset and some flat walks around the campground, but not quite the hiking that we were looking for. 

It's a long drive off the interstate for just a night, so I'd skip it if that's what you are looking for.

Quiet, National Park Campground

We stayed here for a week and a half in the middle of June 2019. We are a 30 ft travel trailer with a Ram 2500. I’d say between all three loops, there were probably 8-10 sites where we would fit. Some of those spots were taken when we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, but we were able to snag spot#9 on the Abert’s Squirrel loop. It was one of the few pull through sites. Not the easiest site to navigate or level, but we made it work and had plenty of room to park the truck in front. The campground was a little tight for us so I’d think anything much bigger(40’ is probably pushing it) than us will have some trouble getting around. Some of sites were questionable as far as level as well. No hook-ups at any of the spots but there is a dump station near the entrance with potable water. There are also potable water spigots throughout the campground. Conveniently, there was a spigot right by us. Very easy to fill jugs. There are shower houses and toilets, but never went to see how nice they were. The campground was about half full most of the time we were there. Very quiet and everyone respected quiet hours. You pay for sites at a self-pay station with credit card only. We tried to book for 11 nights and it wouldn’t take it, so apparently the self-pay is only good for a charge less than$100. If you want to extend your stay, you can either wait until noon(some things said 11:00 so not sure which is correct) and pay at the kiosk(it must be completed after check-out) or you can write a note that you are extending and pay later. Sites are$12/night unless you have a national park senior or access pass then they are$6/night. It is$25 to enter the park(7-day pass), but we have the annual park pass. There is a camp host on Abert’s Squirrel loop, but we didn’t interact with them so can’t say how friendly they were. Our spot#9 was perfect for solar, no obstructions at all. Most of the other sites we saw at least had some potential for shade. The Coyote Loop seemed to have the most potential for shade; although, the other loops had shady spots as well. Even if you stay at the campground, Bandelier is only accessible by shuttle from 9am-3pm. However, there is a hiking trail that will take you from the campground to the ruins. We did that then hiked the trails down there. You can also hike back up to the campground, but we opted to take the shuttle instead. The last shuttle leaves the visitor center at 5pm. There are other things to do in the area as well. The towns, White Rock and Los Alamos, are nearby and both have services should you need them. The road up to the campground(Hwy 4) is bumpy! First paved road we have ever been on that was washboard. Nothing major, just annoying. The portion of the road to Los Alamos and Jemez Springs was nice. We figure the road damage is due to the shuttles. Weather is a bit unpredictable; rain clouds move in fast, but they move out fast too. We had several TV channels so were able to stay up to date with the weather. AT&T signal was not good with only 1 bar LTE without the booster and not much better with it. It was enough to WIFI call and do some light searching, but uploading photos was too slow. Verizon was good with about 2-3 4G LTE without the booster, and 4 bars with it. I was able to work remotely with the Verizon hotspot. Overall, it was a great place to stay and we would stay again.

Reservoir Camping

The site is like a number of other campgrounds we have seen that were created alongside county or state reservoirs. The campground is in a good location in Northwest New Mexico. We ended up staying an extra night here due to the amazing sunsets as well as the peace and quite. They have self checkin and well maintained pit toilets. The camp was about half full on the weekend in August. Each site had some shade and privacy depending on location. The exterior sites on our loop had a great western view to see the sunsets. The water level of the reservoir was very low and some campers were trying their luck at fishing. The have a couple of stores a few miles outside the camp with limited supplies. The roads are well maintained gravel and the sites all a bit uneven if you have a trailer or van. We took the dirt road southwest to exit the park. This was a mistake the road is very rough and requires a high clearance vehicle and 4x4 after rain. We were pulled over by local reservation police who were looking for poachers. The seemed to be overzealous tribal police pulling people over for no reason on a public road. It made for an interesting morning. I would give this a try if you need a short stay site on you way somewhere

Okay campsite in a great location

Nice enough campground for the night. Located very close to beautiful hiking trails and amazing hot springs!!

Great location in Bandelier Natl Monument

Nice quiet place within the monument. Shuttle bus takes you to visitor center Where ruins are and access to trails. There is a lovely 2 mile trail  from campground that you can also walk to center. Ruins are interesting. Lots of wildflowers.

Nice area to camp

Love coming here with the family. Some campgrounds are reservation only but there are still plenty that are first come first serve. But this is a holiday weekend hotspot so you need to come early or avoid a holiday weekend all together, but still worth a drive out here.

Old but peaceful

As other reviews note, this campground looks like it was built in the 50s and not touched since. That said, the area is really pretty and this campsite was totally empty even just a couple days before memorial day weekend. Had clean bathrooms and showers and all of the sites were nice. Some sites had great views of the lake.

It may not be as nice as the camp on the other side, but offered a bit more solitude.

Old but peaceful

As other reviews note, this campground looks like it was built in the 50s and not touched since. That said, the area is really pretty and this campsite was totally empty even just a couple days before memorial day weekend. Had clean bathrooms and showers and all of the sites were nice. Some sites had great views of the lake.

It may not be as nice as the camp on the other side, but offered a bit more solitude.

Nice Little Getaway

This spot is set between the road to Jemez Springs and Jemez Creek. Some sites are exposed to the road and its noise, although it’s not too bad. About half the sites are tucked in among the cottonwoods alongside the creek. Overall, a very pleasant getaway not far from Albuquerque.

Very nice.

I came up from the south on a motorcycle. Strong wind out of the west. The rock formation blocked the wind then I saw the campground sign. Great place to stay. Drinking water, tables, and fantastic views.

Secluded and stunning

Great place! Many options for camping. We chose a secluded site and the only people we saw were kayakers. There are hiking spots, the echo amphitheater, and a monastery to visit. We even made objects from the clay in the river. Then fired them in the camp fire.

Aptly Named Campground, Truly Beautiful!

This adorable little campground just 3 miles south of the village of Jemez Springs, NM is situated in the in a wide canyon with expansive views of the mesas to the east and west. Some of the sites have a full shelter over the fire ring and picnic table. Many of the sites can accommodate larger RVs or motorhomes, but do not have water or electricity hook-ups. Potable water is available as well. The vault toilets were very clean, and well maintained. This campground had the best recycling and trash containers we’ve seen in months. We were able to recycle just about everything!

This area is perfect for anyone who loves to do any of the following: hike, bike, climb, snowshoe, ski, view wildlife, fly fish, soak in hot springs, gallery shop, or just hang out at your beautiful campsite. The town is within 30 minutes of Valles Caldera National Preserve and just a few more miles to Bandelier National Monument and Los Alamos Skiing area. The town of Jemez Springs has just a few restaurants, be sure to try Olga's Famous Chile Rellenos at Los Ojos, the quirky and quaint little bar that looks like it came from a movie set.

The campground is open all year round and typically has a camp host. The sites are non-reservable, and are very inexpensive for the beautiful views you get!

Note: Despite how beautiful this place was and how much we enjoyed it, we had a scary incident happen that we reported to both the county sheriff and forest service office. If you want to know more, visit our blog. They told us that they had never had a report like this before, so this could have been a random incident, as we were there when there was no camp host. So, stay alert, especially if you are the only camper in the campground.

Campsites with great views

Many campsites with views of Navajo Lake. Pit toilets in Juniper, real toilets w showers in main Navajo campground. Food at Marina is good and affordable

Camp out then hike the falls in the morning

We camped the night before having gotten there after dark. Paying was easy. The next day we awoke and hiked the falls. Literally a 2 minute drive down the road from camp.

I loved the place, very comfy and secluded.

Any true camper would adore the place.