PLEASE READ EVERYTHING BELOW BEFORE YOU ASK ME QUESTIONS.
Find out why New Mexico calls itself the 'Land of Enchantment'. This is a week long adventure to the various 'sweet spots' within New Mexico, some spots are truly hidden and some are not so hidden but nonetheless special.
This hiking, biking, camping adventure focuses on visiting spots within New Mexico that are unlike any place you will find in Colorado and perhaps anywhere else on the planet for that matter. The format and plan is similar to my Utah adventure last year, but this time we hope to mix hiking with some mountain biking to expedite some of the exploring. I visited most of these sites last year and decided I needed to return to most of them and spend more time exploring them and 'savor' the spectacle.
After reading in the news last Summer about someone losing their way and dehydrating to death on one of the exact, same Utah hikes I lead 2 months prior in 2013, I can not over state to you the critical need to carry plenty of water with you for hiking and camping through these arid landscapes. Basically for however much water you normally consume during a mountain hike in Colorado, you should carry that same amount times 2 at minimum. Have about a half gallon to a gallon available for each night of camping (for cooking, washing dishes, putting out fires, hydrating, etc). We may go several days from one site to the next without a convenient potable water source along the way so you should store at least a couple gallons in your vehicle while on the road.
These sites we plan to visit are 'low altitude' relative to what we normally hike here in Colorado, and just about all the sites are in a very arid, desert type of climate. The temperatures this time of the year are probably 70-95 degree highs and 35-60 degree lows, basically bring layers for cool weather camping and hot weather hiking. You do not need to be in great athletic shape to 'scale' anything, but you should be in fit condition with some experience hiking in hot and dry environments. Aside from 'out-smarting' the desert climate, most hikes will be easy to moderate.
If you have no experience hiking in hot and dry climates but feel confident that you will be OK hiking the itinerary outlined below then please Text me or Email me so I can review with you your hiking experience and physical condition:[masked]-6223. I will call you back once you identify yourself through Text or Email.
All the sites we visit will have different options for camping/lodging. Here is how I identify the various options we may encounter.
P = Primitive Camping (no toilet facilities, no water sources)
B = Basic Camping (with non-flush toilets and with water sources)
D= Deluxe Camping (B plus flush toilets and showers)
L= Lodging (Hotels/Motels nearby)
---------------------- ITINERARY --------------------------------
Here's the Itinerary in order that I plan to visit :
Sun/Mon : Bisti section (Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness) : P at Bisti
Mon/Mon : De-Na-Zin section (Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness)
Mon/Tue : Chaco Culture National Historic Park : B, D in Park
Tue/Wed : (Big) Lava Tubes (El Malpais National Monument) : P, B, (L in Grants)
Wed/Thu : Alkali Flat (Whites Sands Nat Mon) : P/B (L in Alamogordo)
Thu/Fri : Carlsbad Canverns NP : B, D (L in Carlsbad) maybe if time permits
Fri/Sat : Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks Nat Mon : L in Albuquerque
Sat/Sun : Chavez (slot) Canyon : B, D, L nearby State Parks & Towns
Sun/Mon : Return Home
---------------------- OPTION SITES ------------------------------
Sites we may visit if we have extra time between other sites on the primary list and folks are in favor of checking out. None of these sites I have visited before so I really don't know what to expect:
Tue : (The Catwalk and/or San Francisco Hotsprings) or (3 Rivers Petroglyph)
Wed or Thu : (Last Chance Canyon and/or Sitting Bull Falls) or (3 Rivers Petroglyph)
Fri : Frijoles Upper & Lower Falls (Bandelier Nat Mon)
---------------- INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITIES ------------------
Aside from preserving your own life on the trail, you will be responsible for the following:
-Transportation to/from NM and between sites there. I highly recommend a high clearance (1 foot high) 4x4 for several of our sites and between sites. The chances that you might get stuck or 'bottom out' with a low clearance (8" or less), non 4x4 vehicle are much higher, especially if we decide to go from Tent Rocks to Bandelier NM through the most direct route which goes up a stream. Yeah, we drive up a (shallow) stream for about 1/8 mile. The most direct route cuts about 1 hour off the drive time.
-Camping/Lodging. You may want to make reservations in advance for Chaco NHP Monday night, May 19th for 1 night. Reservations can be made here:
I don't think we can squeeze more than 2-3 tents into 1 campsite at any State or National Park without a hassle by the Park Rangers. That's my recollection, but I could easily be wrong this time around. Be sure to account for Entrance Fees at all the Govt Parks we plan to visit.
-Camping Gear. Be sure to bring tent, mattress pad, sleeping bag, sun protection. Maybe bring an extra pair of (hiking) shoes in case your primary pair fall apart or get wet, etc. Once or twice we must primitive camp with no other options. Primitive camping means you will need to bring a shovel and toilet paper if you need to do your business in the desert.
-Food & Drink. You will be responsible for your own food and drink the whole time. Bring a gas stove if you plan to do any cooking while camping. Most places where we camp will have no firewood available; however, I do plan to bring some with me. You may drink alcohol or smoke 'whatever' (I guess) in moderation, but only in the evening. I will not allow you to hike (or drive) with the group if you do either at any other time. Obviously you don't want to get hung over and blow up your hike the next day. Occasionally the option to eat at a restaurant (fast food or sit down) will be there and at times will likely be required.
-Mountain Bike. Please bring a mountain bike with you since I plan to 'bike and hike' a couple of sites on the itinerary. I only plan to bike on fairly level terrain or terrain with a small incline. I am not a very skilled mountain biker so any rough terrain will be hiked. Also bring a helmet and bike lock/locking chain. We might lock our our bikes together when we stop at the cools parts of a site. We want to make certain our bikes are still there when we spend several hours on foot.
-Powerful Flashlight. Aside from bringing a head lamp for camping (not sure how we got by without one before) be sure to bring a very powerful flashlight for hiking in the Lava Tubes. I remember them being scary dark as you walked further in so be sure to bring a powerful flashlight so we can find where the boogie monster hangs out. If we end up making it to Carlsbad Caverns then this powerful flashlight will make a big difference in what you can see there.
---------------------- AND OH BY THE WAY ---------------------
The drive time from Denver to Farmington, NM is about 7 hours based on Google directions either along Hwy 285 or I-25 and then across Hwy 160 to Durango and then South on Hwy 550 to Farmington. My suggestion would be to leave Denver no later than 7am for various pit stops needed along the way in order to make it to Farmington by the 'meetup' time posted above. I will likely leave the day before to spend some extra time in the Telluride/Durango area.
I do not expect for us to all eat together and stay together every night at the same place. Some places we will need to stay together at the same campsite or Govt park because there are really no other nearby options; other times some of us can camp while others Motel at the nearby town. There is a time where we will all likely stay at some Motel along a Motel strip in Albuquerque.
What is important is that we all meet at a certain place at a certain time if we plan to hike/bike together. We can split up in sub groups but hiking/biking alone is forbidden. The chances that 2+ people fall off a cliff and impair their ability to return to camp is far less than 1 person falling off a cliff and impairing their ability to return to camp. Searching for lost or injured people really sucks. So please try to avoid hiking/biking solo.
For the sake of determining whether or not you can financially afford this trip, assume that you will likely spend anywhere from $40 - $140 on average per day on this trip, depending on your food, lodging, driving preferences and how much you split the expenses with others you travel with. Be sure to account for Entrance Fees at all the Govt Parks we plan to visit.
Please do not expect others in the group to cover 'group' expenses for you. For example if you carpool with someone along the trip then offer to cover at least if not more than your fair share of the gas among the others in the vehicle. Keep in mind, the driver of the vehicle is probably also paying for insurance, tires, oil, etc.
If you share a Park campsite with others then plan to share and offer to share the Park Fee for camping at that site. People should not have to ask you to cover the group expenses fairly and equally. You should offer before they have to ask you. I ran into this dilemma before where someone complained that someone else was not pitching in their fair share so I had to confront them about it. I don't want to have to confront anyone again; that's embarrassing and it truly sucks on my part.
--------------------------- P.S. -------------------------------
If I have not turned you away at this point because of all the rules, requirements and responsibilities I've mentioned thus far then you should seriously consider this adventure if you can take a week off at this time of the year and sincerely love bizarre, colorful, twisted, 'planet of the apes - like' landscapes like I do. The 'visual effects' should 'rock your world'....at least for me it does.