My camping equipment

My camping equipment
Campsite setup

Friday, June 29, 2018

Summer Trip 2018,Arkansas River Rim RV Park, Buena Vista, CO and surrounding area

Arkansas River Rim RV Park

This campground is located just outside of Buena Vista,CO on the Arkansas River which is a haven for white water river rafters. We enjoyed our stay traveling into Buena Vista on a Saturday where we were pleasantly surprised to attend a car show that just happened to be scheduled for that day. 

Arkansas River Rim RV Campgraound

Our campsite at Arkansas RV Park

Classic VW vanagon camper

Classic Excalibur convertible

Toy gun pose, taken by the owners grandson
Classic Lincoln convertible with a big ford cobra engine

We have always enjoyed visiting Buena Vista for it's lovely western architecture and presence next to the white water of the Arkansas River. We enjoyed the music from the beer brewers festival that was by coincidence going on by the Arkansas river front.

The beautiful white waters of the Arkansas River

Beer brewers festival near the river front with live music

The Surf Hotel on the banks on the Arkansas River
All in all we had a wonderful visit in the Buena Vista area and enjoyed the facilities and friendly staff at the Arkansas River Rim RV Park. Barbara considered moving to this area after our retirement which gives you an idea of how much we love this beautiful western Colorado community. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Summer Trip 2018, Great Sand Dunes National Park

While at Great Sand Dunes we stayed at The Pinon Flats Campground located near the visitors center. There are three loops at Pinon Flats, Loop 1 & 2 are for rv's, trailers & tents and Loop 3 is for tents only. Some of the sites are small so it is important to get the dimensions of your site when you reserve. The park is full most of the summer so it is important to make reservations at least 6 months in advance. The campground has good water, many shaded sites, restrooms without showers and no electric. The days can be and were warm for us however the nights are cool making for good sleeping weather. The view from our campsite was great with the dunes towering above the sky line.

Our campsite with the brown bear box which we put our grill in at night
Sunset over the dunes as seen from our campsite
Barbara and I toasting each other celebrating our 25 anniversary, June 26th 

The Visitors Center is a great place to start your visit with a 20 minute film of the geological history park that makes this place so unique. There is an area down from the visitors center here you park your car and walk out to the dunes. You can also access the dunes from the campground. Many visitors walk the dunes however in the summer it is always advised to start early in the morning or later at night before the afternoon heat sets in. We marveled at shear size of the dunes that rise off the high desert floor ot over 800 feet tall. Children with there parents were using ski boards to slide down the side of the bigger dunes.

We took a 2 mile hike the second day we were there on the Dunes Overlook trail that begins at the Pinon Flats campground. The trail elevates about 450 feet above the surrounding area that gives you a great view of the entire sand dune field with the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background.

Dunes River Trail 

Viewa of the entire dunes field from the top of Dunes River Trail
The western end of the dune field with the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background

In the afternoon we took a drive on the Medano Pass Primitive Road to the point of no return to take in the views. At the point of no return only specially equiped 4WD vehicles are allowed and the drivers have to deflate there tires to 20 lbs as to not get stuck in the soft sand of the dunes in places. We did not attempt to go beyond the point of no return. 

View of the dunes at the point of no return
We never went pass the point of no return. Only for high clearance 4WD
Great Sand Dunes is a great place to visit with massive sand dunes, great trails and mountain scenery to explore.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summer Trip 2018, Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument, Pilar Campground, Pilar, NM

Rio Grande del Norte, Pilar Campground

 We were in this area last year during our summer camping trip. I invite you to see my images and narrative from last year visit to this area on my Vacation 2017 blog Post. In this post I will add images and narrative that are unique to our visit this year. We enjoyed our stay in this area last year so much we decided to come back to do some additional exploring. I hope you are inspired by my post to come visit this beautiful area on your travels through New Mexico. 

Located just south of Taos, NM, Rio Grande National Monument this land in the Rio Grande gorge is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The several campgrounds nestled along the river have water, restrooms, showers and a several first come first serve electric sites. We stayed at the first campground, Pilar, which has 8 electric sites. The second campground down the road has four electric sites with showers.

Our Campsite at Pilar Campground

View of the Canyon Rim from our campsite

This area is especially beautiful with towering cliffs and interesting rock formations that the Rio Grande River etched out on its course to the Gulf of Mexico. There is a paved road the parallels the river 5 miles down to the bridge that once crossed leads up a steep and rugged gravel mountain road out of the Canyon to the paved North Rim Road. Both days while we there I took out my mountain bike for a ride along the river road past some of the best scenery that can be found out here in New Mexico. 

Rio Grande River Gorge

Wild Geese with there babies floating down the Rio Grande River
Rio Grande River
Bridge leading to the North Rim Road, back way out of the canyon
Steep gravel road leading out to the North Rim Road

Big Horn Sheep we saw just after we got on the North Rim Road

Herd numbered a dozen or more

They barely noticed I was there

 We traveled into Taos, NM, a short distance away, to go to the popular Farmers Market on Saturday morning. We enjoyed the unique atmosphere with artists, organic farmers and unique vendors selling interesting products. The holistic nature of the market creates a certain mystic that is fascinating. The southwestern architecture of Toas is also unique giving the town a special look.

Wholistic Vendor common at the Toas Farmers Market

Toas Mercantile Company
Poet using an old Smith Corona type writer composing poems based on a topic chosen by his patrons. Never seen this before at any event.
The last day in the gorge we spent at the bridge enjoying the cool waters of the river. This year the weather has been especially dry with little snow fall in the mountains bringing the level of the river down to an unusual level. Many folks could actually walk across the river. There were several fishermen who were catching large trout while we were there. 

Anglers Fishing in the Rio Grande River

Barbara wading in the cool waters of the Rio Grande 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Summer Trip 2018, Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, NM

Located near Los Alamos, NM, Bandilier is a special place full of adventure, high canyons, ancient Indian dwellings and breathtaking vistas. We stayed at Juniper campgrounds located on the rim of a deep canyon just up from the visitors center. The campsites have no electric however the restrooms are clean and the sites are surrounded by tall trees providing some shade depending on the site.

Our campsite at Juniper campground

 By the parks visitor center is a beautiful trail that meanders through the ancient Indian ruins, Kiva’s and cliff dwellings. Being familiar with Mesa Verde National Park we found that the history here to be quite compelling. The loop trail passes through the ruins of the ancient villages that populated the valley up to the cliffs of the canyon where many of the tribes build homes to protect their families from the elements.

Visitors Center at Bandilier National Monument

Giant Keva built by the ancient Indian tribes that made this area home centuries ago

Trail leading to the cliff dwelling homes

Cliff dwellings at Bandilier

Just west on scenic highway 4 is the beautiful Valles Caldera National Preserve. This area is an extinct super volcano that erupted millions of years age and caved in on itself to from a vast valley filled with various forms of wild life similar to Yellowstone. We spotted elk, coyotes, and prairie dogs on our drive up to the visitor’s center. The prairie dogs had just had their pups making for an interesting experience watching them play as the mothers keep watch for predators from the rims of their nesting sites.

Coyote on the Caldera
Prairie Dog guarding its den at visitors center

The park service provided visitors with an interpretive ride in an electric van to the old ranch houses that were used here to raise cattle years ago. Many of the building were used by Hollywood film makers to make western movies over the years. We found Valles Caldera to be a marvelous and historic place not only by its geology but also by its abundant forms of wildlife. 

Western Ranch Cabin
View from the rancher cabins looking north across the caldera
Ranch Foreman's cabin in the process of being restored by the park service

While visiting Bandilier we did take an afternoon to visit Los Alamos, site of the national lab that made the atom bombs that help end World War II. The museums and historic buildings of Los Alamos provided a great experience for us to learn the history of the atomic age and continuing research that is a big part of our countries defense system and energy grid. 

Directors of the National Lab at its very begining 

Lodge that was used to house the scientist at the beginning of the labs operation

Replica of Fat boy used during WW II