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El Rancho, NEW MEXICO

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Enchanting

Parking my vintage Shasta on the mesa of Luna Mystica is like no other place I’ve ever parked. Rustic site with a nearly 360 view to die for, I just picked a place and parked. A very short walk to the best private bathrooms I’ve ever used at a campground. A true artist’s haven, there is also a brewing company on site, and a dozen or so adorable vintage parked campers that make the esthetics top notch.

Laid back life, close to town

Campsites are small yet private due to the wonderful shrubbery and small trees. There is a great trail that winds through the back of the property. The bathrooms could use an upgrade, but after all, it is a campground. Pool in the summer and fire pits in the winter. I love this campground!

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.

Great location and beautiful pine forest

Just 15 mins from downtown Sant Fe this beautiful campsite is an easy and great escape and alternative.

For the size of the campground the sites are pretty cramped which is unfortunate but nothing too serious.

Basic campsite with picnic tables, tent mats and pit toilets.

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.

Quiet, beautiful, and had it all to myself for a day.

Quiet mountain lake with ponderosa pines surrounding it. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Great spot in the Santa Fe National Forest

We camped here on a Monday night in late September and had no trouble finding an open site without a reservation. The spots were a little close together, but thick foliage in between provided some nice shade and privacy. There was also a nice stone wall at our site to help with erosion control. Good fire pit too. 

Toilets were clean and stocked. 

The Black Canyon Loop trail at the north end of the campground is a great jaunt up to a view of the Santa Fe watershed and the Pecos Wilderness. It's 1.3 miles long and does a lollipop loop allowing for different views on the way up and back - would highly recommend.

Super quite location

My wife and I just spend two days at this RV resort. Its attached to the Ojo Caliente Spa Resort. The spaces only had eletric and water. The eletric and water outlets where placed in an odd location for the site and a dumb station is available for extra $20. One thing we both noticed about the RV park was how quite it was at night. No campfires in the RV park but the spa area had a big fire pit lit every night and where there so many of the RV community hung out there. It gave us a chance to meet our neighbors and talk traveling. We spent one whole day at the spa and was given a discount on its entrance price while staying at the RV park. There is also a great restaurant on site. We where traveling in a 34 foot 5th wheel. Cell service is spotty.

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.

State park

Nice state park. We dry camped with water site

Secluded but not at the same time

This campground was great! It was 10 bucks a night per vehicle, but the trails, bathrooms and campsites themselves were very well maintained. The campsites are spaced out enough with forest that other campers shouldn't bother you, unless of course they're being loud and obnoxious. It feels more Backcountry than it really is. Highly recommend if you're not looking to go to far from the city.

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.

Great Camping!

The 8 camp sites have a good distance between them so it was fairly private when we camped over Labor Day Weekend 2019. There was quite a bit of traffic on the nearby road but it was a holiday weekend so this was completely understandable. There were a lot of 4 wheelers and rangers so during the day there was quite a bit of noise. The nights were very quiet and peaceful with the nearby creek. I’d like to camp here again on a regular weekend without the increased traffic. Overall, a great site to camp!

Beautiful view

its actually called Coronado, not Corondado. So don’t type that into your gps My boyfriend and I took a 13 state journey this summer over the course of 3 weeks and this was one of my favorite campsites we stayed at. 👍🏻🏕 If you stay there I highly recommend camping in site r7 or the sites that have the little huts. The view of the Sandia mountains was absolutely incredible. There’s also a tram that will take you up the Sandia mountains that’s the longest tram in North America, 2nd longest in the world. It was beautiful. You can hike up the trails to a cabin built in the 1930s that is simply worth the hike up in the thin mountain air. 10/10 would highly recommend this site!

Nice Fishing Campground

La Sombra is a National Forest Service camp the highway 64 southeast of Taos New Mexico. The campground is of a number of NFS along this route. They have a nice trout stream for fishing and access to good hikes up out of the canyon. The sites all have fire rings and picnic tables. We camped here for one night on our way back to Texas. The road noise is the only downside. They had clean pit toilets and plenty of space even in the summer.

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!!!

Roadside Northern New Mexico

I liked the small roadside campground in the Carson National Forest. It’s located near some of the smaller ski slopes about 30 miles south of Taos NM on Highway 518 near Rock Wall New Mexico. The National Forest Service campground has 10 sites along a nice mountain stream. The campground is just off the highway with some privacy between the campsites. They have picnic tables and fire rings and clean Pit toilets. This site did not have a host and works from a self service. The hiking and fishing are the highlights here along with the scenery. I also appreciated this was mostly empty in the peak summer season. This is a nice option if you want to avoid the crowds a do some trout fishing in a relatively quite location. The only downside is the noise from the highway.

Beautiful Setting

Great place in a beautiful wooded hillside southwest of Santa Fe about 15 mins or so. They have a pool, a small dog park and a great little hiking trail with good views of the surrounding mountains. Nice facilities, a small store and a laundry mat make it a great place to explore Santa Fe and the surrounding area.

KOA better than most

This was a quick overnight to dump and refill. We arrived just as the office was closing. The staff was very accommodating and friendly. This has all the normal stuff you would expect from a KOA plus some services we didn't use like cable TV. It is located in the foothills so it is not out in the hot windy flatlands or the cool woods. It is close to but not in or near SantaFe.

Hippy Bus Campground

Las Petacas is just east of Taos on Highway 64. The campground is located just a few feet from the highway along a small creek. The campground has about 15 sites located along the creek with some privacy between sites. You should be able to find a site here even during summer peak season. This site is in the Carson National Forest and does have a camp host. The highlight during our visit was a crazy two story hippy bus. I have never seen anything quite like this bus during our two years on the road. Anyway the toilets are clean and sites are maintained. This is a good option if your looking to get close to Taos or doing some hiking in the Carson Forest. The two campers here were local long term visitors. This is a good option if you are traveling through and need a easy to access site.

First to Review
Basic Roadside Campground Near Taos

The National Forest Service campground is located on highway 64 between Angel Fire and Taos New Mexico. The site is just a few feet off the highway next to a small creek. They have about a dozen small campsites along the creek with privacy between the sites. The sites are very basic and come equipped with fire pits and picnic tables. The location had availability during the summer peak season. The site is self serve pay and does not have a camp host. The location may be a good option for those looking to visit Taos which is about 30 minutes away. I gave this a low rating due to the condition of the sites which needed basic maintenance and cleanup. The site was also far to close to the highway to enjoy a good camping experience. I think this is the type of place you use as a last resort while in transit to Taos or Eagles nest.

Great Northern New Mexico Camp

We stayed at this site on the way back to Texas from our Colorado trip this summer. This is a great National Forest Campground south of Taos in the Carson Forest. The campground is just off the highway and situated in a beautiful mountain pine forest and next to a great trout stream. You have great shade during the hotter summer months. It’s far enough away from the highway that you don’t hear the traffic. It has a huge meadow and group camp site which look fantastic. The individual sites have some privacy between the sites and come equipped with fire pits and picnic tables. We made a reservation but the camp had a number of open sites in the peak summer season. The highlight here is the proximity of great hiking to nearby lakes and fishing in the trout stream. They had great facilities including clean pit toilets and some historic log cabins. They have a camp host and the sites accommodate tents and smaller vans and campers. I would give this another visit on our next trip to NM.

Close to town but felt like way out in the woods.

As nice a campground as you could want and only be 15 minutes from center of town.  The walk to tent camp sites are great, and a short walk.  It was just myself when I stayed, looking for a place to sleep and break up drive from Phoenix to Denver.  I would go back with family, but most weekends seem booked, so reserve when you can!

Urban campground

We stayed here for our annual Cub Scout camp out. We tent camped around a group site. It’s next to the Coronado Monument and the Rio Grande with an awesome view of the Sandia mountains.

Come for the beer. Not the camping

We wanted to love this place. A few years ago, we had our wedding at Taos Mesa Brewing, which is conveniently located next door. When we rolled up to the hip Luna Mystica, we told to camp as far away as possible from the airstreams. Then, we were charged $25 for dispersed camping. No shade, no amenities, no nothing. Another camper secretly gave us the code to the bathrooms (designated for the airstream campers). Confused by the complete lack of amenities for $25 (and not wanting to roast in the sun while feeling like second class citizens, we left after a few hours and camped elsewhere.