For those RVers wishing to explore The Land of Enchantment, our itinerary may prove useful. This comes with a caveat and that is – there is so much more to New Mexico than what I have to offer here. Which is why we plan to come back and spend more time in the southwestern state that enchanted us from beginning to end.
This blog includes slideshows illustrating and describing places we visited. Please take the time to look at them and also check out many of the links provided. Additionally, I wrote four blogs during our stay in New Mexico, each one offering a historical perspective. You’ll find a link to each at the end of this blog, please check those out as well!
On May 5 we entered New Mexico north of El Paso on Highway 54, 202 miles beginning at Mt View RV Park in Van Horn, Texas ending at Alamogordo’s KOA. For more rustic camping, Oliver Lee Memorial State Park (which came recommended) and Dog Canyon dispersed camping next to it, are about 17 miles south of Alamogordo. There is nothing to see in Alamogordo except the New Mexico Museum of Space History, but it’s location was convenient for White Sands National Park.
We left Alamogordo by way of Highway 54 to a small town called Vaughn. As we drove through it, I researched it to learn Vaughn was a railroad town complete with a Harvey House Hotel. Now, it is a known drug-smuggling route and patrolled by the county sheriff, New Mexico Rangers and State Police, Motor Transportation Police and Vaughn Police Dept. Probably much safer than it looked, Vaughn was a convenient diesel stop on our way to the Santa Fe KOA.
After Santa Fe, we drove 70 miles north to an Army Corp of Engineers campground called Riana, located on the Abiquiu Reservoir. This was the only campground in our New Mexico itinerary where we wanted to spend quality time. Unfortunately, the water levels were so low that Vivian had to forego her kayak fishing plans.
Four nights at Riana gave us only three days to explore the area and explore we did. We wanted to see the following (distances are one-way from Riana):
Ghost Ranch – 8 miles. Purchasing a day pass for $10 allows you to hike the beautiful grounds where O’Keeffe painted many of her desert scenes and visit the museum. The entrance is conveniently located on Highway 84.
White Place (Plaza Blanca) – 10 miles. On private property, permission is needed to go in with a vehicle, park at the trailhead and hike around this wonderous landscape where O’Keeffee created her ‘White Place’ paintings. The entrance is on the outskirts of Abiquiu.
Another short distance of towing, 67 miles brought us to the Taos Valley RV Park. With only 3 nights and one and half days of non-stop rain, we had little time to walk downtown Taos (Taos Pueblo was closed due to Covid) and drive over to the Rio Grande River Gorge.
Our final stop in New Mexico before entering Utah was Moore’s RV Park and Campground in Bloomington. From Taos, we stopped over at the Albuquerque North/Bernalillo KOA for one night before heading north on Highway 550.
Bloomington would be our home for one week, but we spent very little time there as we had many places to visit and explore including the following (miles are one way from campground):
Mesa Verde National Park – 80 miles. One of the country’s best national parks. Although a long drive for us, it was well worth it for the spectacular views along the way.
Aztec Ruins National Monument – 10 miles. In the town of Farmington, it is a relatively small park but well worth the time to walk the ruins, about 1 hr.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park – 62 miles. To get there, you must take the long, torturous gravel road. It took as over two hours to drive there, but definitely worth it! You can spend an entire day wandering around the ruins.
The Lybrook Badlands and Black Place – 52 miles. We hired Navajo Tours USA to take us into the Lybrook badlands one afternoon and glad we did. The badland areas, including the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area are accessible on public lands but a 4-wheel drive, navigational knowledge of the area and attention to weather (roads becoming impassable due to rain) are essential if you really want to get in there and see it. For a shorter version, the Bisti wilderness can be easily accessed from a parking area not far from Highway 371 and an easy hike in allows you to see the badlands up close.
Last but not least, check out my previous blogs for a little history and perspectives on New Mexico: