Wooded walk-in tent sites

My son and I camped here several times circa 2005. Always a good time. You can walk through the forest to get to the injured raptor center with outdoor aviaries.

Nice waypoint

I tent camped here in Aug. 2020 after driving through the Navajo Reservation. I arrived before dusk in the fading heat. The staff was friendly and offered me a cheap brisket sandwich and maybe peach cobbler if there was any left. Well there was some left! I considered hauling it all the way back to El Paso but I’m glad I stopped for the night and got some good rest.

Army range camping

My son and I tent camped on the Ft. Bliss range’s south training zones circa 2014 at a place called Kerby Tank (see google maps) on the east edge of the range. It was a great adventure. Very empty and quiet with a great view of distant, northeast El Paso and the Franklin Mountains at sunset. It was free but we needed two sets of permissions. First you need an annual range permit at the Buffalo Soldiers Gate. Then you need to call Range Control and ask to camp. Watch out for UXO (unexploded ordnance)!

Nice place

We tent camped at Silver Lake Campground on the Mescalero Reservation over Labor Day weekend 2020. It was packed. Kind of a free-for-all without clear tent sites, just like find your own fire ring. But we found a good spot. The campground cleared out on Labor Day and we had the place to ourselves, just grilling steaks and playing Scrabble on the picnic table. Labor Day was the last day of the open season.


I tried to tent camp here late one night in Aug. 2020. It was dark when I arrived. I picked a random tent site on the after-hours registration board, deposited my envelope in the box, and drove to the site. My red tail lights illuminated an ant hole with black ants crawling around. I tried to sleep in the bed of my truck to no avail. It was hot. I gave up around 2am and drove to a motel in Moab. I called the next day to complete the registration process and explain why I didn’t check-in in the morning and ensure to pay anyway, but no one answered or called me back.


I tent camped here in Aug. 2020. It was fine. Close to the interstate, for better or worse. I wanted to camp at the SLC KOA but it was closed to tents then.

Cool respite in a hot August

I tent camped at Duck Creek in Aug. 2020. It was cool and fresh. I could’ve camped around Kanab but an elk bowhunter in a bar in Alpine AZ recommend Duck Creek instead because Kanab would be hot.

Organized, developed, cool forest in August

I spent 2 nights on my rode trip from El Paso to Provo. I reserved site 9 on Recreation.gov. The host expected me. The site was shaded encircled by pine trees and it was cool in late August. The squirrels are voracious and chewed through my stuff sack with sealed food that I left on the picnic table when I went for a bike ride around the lake.

NF Big Lake Rec Area is developed around Big Lake, which isn’t big. I asked the tackle shop clerk about swimming and he warned of hooks and lures. He said the water was fine except for a film of algae. I didn’t swim. The campground seemed used by anglers and off-roaders.

I found the first non-motorized trail off the gravel Forest Service road by the lake. It wasn’t walking distance from the campground. The forest had burned in 2011 according to warning signs, but by 2020 there was new growth and plenty of trees survived. The trail teamed with wildlife. There were squirrels and chipmunks everywhere. I spotted a group of elk cows and later mule deer bucks. I observed at least 5 species of birds. The forest was alive with activity. I didn’t see any people on the trail.

There were many dispersed camping spots throughout the forest and several campgrounds along black river.

I had a big juicy burger at the Alpine Grill and Still, whose bar area was open for dine in despite the coronavirus.

Despite the development, I recommend it.

Peaceful waypoint

I stayed two nights on my road trip from El Paso to Provo. I wanted to explore southeastern Utah. Great campsite but a little far from Moab—about 60 miles. I’d probably stay closer to Moab next time even though it’s cooler and forested at the campground, which was peaceful. I reserved site 28 on Recreation.gov. I drove past several BLM and NF campgrounds en route to Canyonlands NP Needles unit through the NF road and then BLM land. As of Aug. 26, 2020 there was what looked like potable water from the spigot. I drank it fine. The bathrooms were clean. The Blanding Visitor Center guide recommended the Bulldog area for biking and wildlife, but I mainly saw cows down there and had a tough ride uphill.

Military and law enforcement only

The Southwinds marina is a nice area within the Amistad National Recreation Area with a boat ramp and camping. The boat ramp is open to the public but the camping options and boat rentals were reserved for military and law enforcement only as of 2013. Users often come from Laughlin Air Force Base, which is located on the eastern edge of Del Rio. U.S. Border Patrol also have access. I’ve never camped here but it’s a nice place.

Chihuahan desert mountains and trails

My son and I camped in the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park over Labor Day weekend 2013. We hiked up to Aztec Cave and then scrambled above it for a beautiful view of west El Paso and beyond. Lots of other trails. There were plenty of sites and I wondered why there weren’t more campers in a county with 830,000 people, not including Juarez. We were new to El Paso then and I don’t remember a lot of heat and sun. It seemed pleasant enough though I might be scared of the heat nowadays at that time of year. Good times.

A hill country river and forest

We tent camped here circa spring break 2012. We arrived around midnight and I think the host welcomed us. Regardless we got a good site on the east side of the highway and easily set up the tent with the car lights. We enjoyed the park hiking the forest on the west side. I braved the cold water of the river, swimming across and back with onlookers and my wife admiring my courage (or foolishness) from the bank. I laid on the rocks in the sun to dry off and warm up. We tested a Methodist church in our dirty camping clothes and received a warm welcome.

On the edge of Hill Country

I tent camped here alone around spring 2012 and laid under the stars on one of the concrete pads next to the visitor center because the private spots were occupied. The next morning I hiked a trail along a western ridge and then bushwacked back down. It was cloudy and lonely but pretty county with live oaks, junipers, sage, and limestone. It felt like a donated ranch and I think the ranch family retains the right to exclusive use sometimes. I spelunked the pristine cavern on a different, guided trip with my family after needing to make reservations a couple months in advance. Then we spent a couple days housesitting on nearby Ft. Clark, swimming in the spring fed pool and playing golf. Fun time.

Atop the Edwards Plateau

My son and I tent camped at Seminole Canyon State Park circa 2010. We could could see the distant mountains in Mexico on the western horizon. The sunset dimmed to indigo and purple with the long, lonesome vista to the west across sage and limestone country. The night breeze whistled by our tent. Even though you’re in a campground, there’s a wild feel to it. Right off Highway 90, the state park is south of the nearby Pecos River high bridge. RV friendly.

Official map here: https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/park_maps/pwd_mp_p4501_082b.pdf

Nice place

I’ve never camped at 277 North, but we had a picnic here around 2010 and swam in the lake at the end of the spur. Good times. Right off Highway 277 but a nice place.

Good place

My son and I tent camped at San Pedro several times circa 2010 when the lake was high. We always had a good time. I waded into the lake chest high and caught a bass with a rod and reel. The only time we found it busy was Easter but we still got a site and had a great time. The drought came in 2011 and the lake receded far from the campground. I don’t know how far away the lake is now.

Rough canyon, good camping

We tent camped at Rough Canyon around New Years 2010 when the lake was high. There were no other people camping. Simple campground at the end of the paved road on the edge of the lake. It’s a round gravel parking lot with sites around it. There’s a small community above the campground. Great place, great lake.

On the far side of Amistad

My son and I tent camped at Spur 406 at Lake Amistad circa 2010 when the lake was high before the drought of 2011 and the low lake levels afterward. Simple campground with several sites. Great place near Highway 90 to camp. There wasn’t anyone else camping there that night. It’s on the opposite side of the lake from Del Rio and it gets very dark. There were lots of stars. We went wading in the lake at night where the old highway enters the lake and it’s easy to walk in the water or swim there farther out. The next day we caught a yellow scorpion in a jar and later released it. Good times. There was a simple bathroom. The sites have grills and maybe metal shade structures and picnic tables. There are no RV hook-ups but the road and sites might be conducive to RVs and trailers. The spur is a good 2-lane paved road but I don’t remember how big all the sites are. Per 2020 official website, camping fee was $6/night. Great place.

Lonely desert

Gap Tank is located in the gap between Mt. Riley and the E. Potrillo Mountain ridge in the Desert Peaks National Monument on BLM land in the Chihuahuan Desert. Very few people out there. Very primitive. No campground. Little to no shade. I’ve camped here twice in my truck bed—once in 2017 when I climbed Mt. Riley and once in 2020. Close to Mexican border but I didn’t have any problems. Probably not conducive to RVs because difficult to pull off county road.

Potentially good

Bluff Springs is nestled in a pretty forested valley with a creek and falls in Lincoln National Forest about 10 miles south of Cloudcroft off Sunspot highway on Upper Peñasco Road. There’s a gravel parking lot with bathrooms but no campground. We tent camped Sat, Aug. 1, 2020, arriving about 2pm. There were many people camping and it was difficult to find a spot along the road with dispersed camping sites. We had to camp in thicker grass among cow dung because the mowed sites were taken. Still, life outside is better, right? It stormed much of the day and night but Sunday morning dawned clear and we took a short 1-mile hike from the Bluff Springs trailhead to the Willie White trailhead. There are longer hikes too. There were some camping trailers but no big RVs. Upper Peñasco Road is narrow in parts. A decent place.