This was the first stop of 3 - 2 night stays on this search to find great camping with easy access to water and preferably within a days drive of my house. I recreational kayak so access to water is at the top of my list of must haves if paddling is on the list of must do’s. This was a survey trip to see what’s out there for folks like me.
I booked two nights going to quite a bit of trouble of obtain them. I booked all three stays on the same day in March. Two weeks before my trip I receive an email from the Parks department cancelling my reservation, issuing a refund but offering no explanation or offer to assist in finding another spot. Getting to speak to an actual person… could not be done. I left voice mails at the dam, at the. State office and even the Governor’s office but apparently no one was at work. Two weeks later a really helpful gal called to say she had just started two days prior and discovered a full voice mail box. She was absolutely amazing at facilitating a solution within two days. Clarissa, you are a Goddess! Reserve America is a pain to navigate and I will leave it at that.
Now about the campground. It is exactly what one should expect in a desert landscape. Very few trees and very dusty and rocky. It was 100 degrees when I left for my trip deciding to wait until late afternoon to avoid setting up in the blazing heat. I arrived at 10:00pm or so. It was 73 degrees. I came in from the east side 64 to 527 and there were deer and elk EVERYWHERE!!!! Which is why I arrived so late, you just have to slow down. Mostly cedar and pine and natural gas oil wells EVERYWHERE!!!! I got to my appointed site and I simply could not navigate from where one parks to where the actual site was and which, by the way, while lakeside it was convenient to water it was not. If you have a few people to help haul everything down to where the actual water is great, but alone in 100 degrees. Also, I travel with two small dogs and shade is paramount. Well shade they do have such as it is. The showers were not available due to, you guessed, a water shortage! I just put up the tent and went to sleep which wasn’t too uncomfortable. Next morning at 5:30 the sun was out and the heat was building. I packed up and moved on up to Colorado where it would surely be much cooler.
I might like to visit Sims Mesa Marina at Navajo Lake again, if it ever fills again and perhaps in the spring or fall but NOT in summer. So many of our fine bodies of water boaters and anglers have come to rely on for recreation are in serious jeopardy due to a 10 year what is termed “Exceptional” drought conditions. It’s really such a shame.
Side note: be sure to take the Navajo Dam shortcut when leaving Sims. It’s a well maintained, but very dusty road. The views are spectacular and driving across the dam is a bit nerve racking. The drive down from the dam all along the San Juan drainage below the dam is well worth checking out for day use only but there are several “holes” they call them where the fishing is said to be amazing and the parking lot reflected it’s popularity.
So it’s on to Vallecito Lake outside Bayfield, Colorado. Specifically Pine Point USFS Campground. The search for paddling opportunities continues.