Along with this being our first out of state and long adventure in Red, we also decided to try boon-docking. Boon-docking, or dispersed camping, is totally free camping on public land operated by the Bureau of Land Management. We pay taxes on this land so we may as well take advantage of it. Not to mention, you can experience some pretty incredible camping spots. Now don’t expect a water or electricity hookups but you can find sites with fire rings. We plan to do quite a bit of boon-docking on our trip and found the Campendium app to be really helpful so far. You can search free camping sites, read reviews and view pictures of the grounds.
Using the Campendium app we stayed at our first boon-docking site, Fence Canyon in White City, New Mexico. This was the perfect place to start our trip. A little bumpy getting to the top of a hill but once we were there we were the only people and had the most amazing views. The night time was so peaceful with a sky full of stars. Our first night we were star gazing and heard something moving in the distance, so we got out our head lamps and we found cows grazing all around us. For our first night, it was pretty exciting. I should also mention we had great cell phone service (AT&T).
Fence Canyon is located 10 minutes from Carlsbad Caverns, so we headed out to the National Park on our first day. We were both excited, but the caverns were even better than expected. The size of the caverns alone surprised us. We spent the day exploring the world below and trying to identify stalactites and stalagmites while on a search for spelunkers. The park rangers there helped us get an America the Beautiful pass, which was $80, but will grant us access to all the National Parks and provide discounts on camping for a full year. They go by month and not exact date so if you do this make sure to purchase one at the beginning of the month.
Two nights at Fence Canyon then we headed to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park on our way to the Gila National Forest. The Guadalupe Mountains, like the caverns, were much more impressive than we expected and had us taking a million pictures of El Capitan. We only spent an hour or so exploring then headed on our way.
In the Gila National forest we boon-docked at the Cosmic Campground. It is a dark sky sanctuary and people come from all over to photograph the stars. There are even round concrete telescope pads. We were only there for one night and we loved how level the ground was, allowing us to easily back in and pull out in the morning. Heads up though, fires were not permitted when we were there and this a no service zone. We also took this time to test out our outdoor shower. Two things we learned: 1) We switched up the hot and cold water handles (figuring out why we weren’t getting hot water took us a while..) and 2) showing outside in nature is our new favorite thing. A full day of driving, followed by a hot shower and we slept like babies that night. Sadly, the sky was too cloudy for us to experience any stars but the views during the day were breathtaking.
So far both of our camping spots have been incredible and we’ve had a great start to our trip. The days leading up to leaving were filled with stress but having time to enjoy each other and the outdoors is allowing for those weights to be lifted.
Fence Canyon, White City, New Mexico | Price: FREE
Wildlife spotted: jackrabbits, cows, frogs, caterpillars
Cosmic Campground, Gila National Forest, New Mexico | Price: FREE
Wildlife spotted: jackrabbits, birds, elk, deer