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August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

Toronto
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August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

Hi, We're thinking of flying into ABQ and renting an RV for 6 to 10 days in mid-August. We've never Rved, actually, but it's something we want to try just once. NM seems suitably, well, spacious for RVirgins. Crazy idea or not? Will campgrounds be booked up by now? We like to hike, eat, walk & sightsee. We''d probably rent bikes too. I love deserts, mountains, wildflife, aboriginal culture; DH loves all of above plus SW food; kids want places w/ pools and are excited about RVing. So, does this sound like a plan? Are we too late to book for mid to late August? Budget isn'tt too big an issue but we like value over luxury.

Your thoughts warmly appreciated.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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1. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

Not many RV parks have pools in area...As a RV owner, I would think twice on the idea... Go with a rental car & rent or buy some camping equipment & retreat to a motel every couple of nights...carracar

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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2. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

Sure it is doable if you want to RV it around the area. Rancheros de Santa Fe RV/Campground just outside of Santa Fe has a pool. Check with KOA Kampgrounds website for places around the state. You may also want to include the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest Nat Parks on your journey.

Albuquerque, New...
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3. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

We've done some RVing as a family and my wife grew up going a lot. I have some limited experience. We thoroughly enjoyed an RV trip to Fool Hollow Lake State Park in Show Low, AZ and the Grand Canyon; another one to Silver City and the Gila; a couple to Durango, CO.; and one to Red River. The NM state parks are really good for RVs, since they have hook ups, as well as showers, are inexpensive, and in some great spots. They don't have pools but usually there is some sort of stream, pond or river. Look at their websites and e-brochures. One, I know, is renovating at the moment. We stayed at the Roadrunner in Red River, which bills itself as an RV resort. No pool, but other amenities. Red River itself is a very nice mountain town and good fishing in town and nearby. Roadrunner gets some bad reviews because of some strict policies and deposits, but we didn't really have a problem. There's a stream running through it. Red River is up in the direction of Taos. I did some research once, and there's some RV spots in BLM along the river near Pilar. No shade, I recall, when I looked. Durango has a few options, but we always ended up at United, just outside of town. It's like a KOA, with a pool, etc. We often tent camped there on the grassy lawn, a great place for the kids to run around, while relatives parked RVs above. Kids enjoy the old narrow gauge trains that run right through the middle. The Animas is nearby but not readily accessible. Durango is a great mountain town with lots to do in and around. Mesa Verde is relatively close. There are some great mountain biking trails around Durango. There's even a trail through "town." I wonder if there will be floating on the Animas that time of year. You might check out RV spots at the Isleta Pueblo, just south of ABQ, to get your feet wet near ABQ. I haven't seen it, though. You can RV in national forests and monuments all around, but you won't find any hook ups. That's about the extent of what I know.

WestSlope,CO
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4. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

I always recommend Lincoln, New Mexico, of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County Wars fame. The whole town is a museum, like stepping back in time.

Yes, if your family wants to try the RV, New Mexico is a great place to do it! (And include Durango & Mesa Verde if you have the time, definitely!) I'd say go for it.

Albuquerque, New...
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5. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

I agree that traveling with an RV is a good idea. One caution; don't try to do to much traveling in your 10 days or so. New Mexico is a huge state, the 4th largest in the country, and distances between places are huge. So, I would recommend the northern part of the state for your trip. Grand Canyon would be nice, but in August it is shoulder to shoulder. Durange, Pagosa Springs and other locations in southern Colorado are close enough to visit also. Great Sand Dunes Natl Monument would be fun for the kids. They have a campground, no hookups, but it's a fun place.

I don't know of any private CG's that have pools. There are a couple of RV books that list every CG in the nation, and if you can get one of those, it would be a great help to you.

One other caveat, most rental places don't permit driving off main roads, but I'm not sure this applies to RV's.

Check out the other posts here on NM forum. Lot's of good info on places to go and things to see, and also go online to NM Tourism. Lots and lots of good suggestions.

Silver City, New...
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6. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

A couple of things to consider as an RV newbie:

One slightly tricky part if you decide to rent an RV is that the average RV owner loads the RV directly from their home; since you are flying to ABQ first, you will be limited in the amount and type of stuff you can carry on the plane.

Do *not* expect the cost of an RV rental to be cheaper than renting a car and staying in motels. You *might* save on the cost of making your own meals vs. eating in restaurants, but having to cook and do dishes may make it less of a vacation for whoever has to do so.

One thing to get used to is that you will effectively be like a turtle: you'll take your home with you wherever you go. This means that whenever you leave camp, you will need to unplug and unhook and put everything loose away so it doesn't go flying. You might consider taking along a bicycle or two both for recreation as well as the occasional shopping trip so you can leave the RV in camp.

When you pick up your rental RV, before going anywhere, TAKE ALL THE TIME YOU NEED TO BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE ELECTRIC, WATER/SEWAGE AND GAS SYSTEMS OF THE RV. An RV can be a pretty complex piece of equipment, and certain mistakes can be messy, expensive and possibly dangerous.

I don't mean to discourage you-- I just want to (as we used to say in the corporate world) 'level-set your expectations.'

New Mexico
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7. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

August is a great time of year! As an avid camper and someone who hauls his camper around all over the place, I can tell you that NM offers up an abundance of natural beauty and camping opportunities abound. That said, and you may be surprised, but actual RV parks/RV resorts are relatively limited; this is due in large part to the plethora of opportunities for public land use.

New mexico has acres and acres of national forest, BLM, state park, and other public lands that are used by locals and visitors alike for camping, hiking, and general outdoor recreation. While they all offer up some beautiful scenery and a broad range of outdoor recreational activity, none have amenities such as pools and the like. Most forest service campgrounds are not reservable and on a FCFS (fist come-first served) basis. You would also want to be self contained (i.e. shower, toilette, etc on board) as most of these campgrounds also don't offer hookups or have public bathing facilities (usually just vaulted toilettes).

State Parks are another great option here in that most have some sites with hookups and at least a handful of reservable sites. You will find that most NM State Parks will offer up 1/3 to 1/2 half of their sites to reservations....the rest are FCFS.

In RE to RV parks/resorts....like I said, your options are pretty limited; there just aren't that many around here. Additionally, you will find most of these to be nothing more than glorified parking lots. They aren't overly pleasant for being in/around camp. Most are located in or around major metro areas like Albuquerque and Santa Fe as well as most of the high trafficed tourist areas. You'll be hard pressed to find any with pools and the like...I think there's a few KOAs that have them, but most are.....well.....resemble something like a Walmart parking lot and don't offer up much more than a place to park it for the night (which is all I use them for).

As others have stated, you'd want to pick a north circuit or south circuit, but I'd advise against trying to do both. In August, I'd opt for North. Also, you'll want to rent an add'l vehicle most likely. Using your RV as your primary driving around/site seeing vehicle can be rather unpleasant due to the fact that they are rather large and cumbersome to drive around. Not only that, but if you've already set up camp....if you want to go anywhere, you basically have to pack everything up, de-level and stabalize, unhook (if you have hookups)....and then set up camp again when you get back.

Give some ideas of where you'd like to visit and I can offer up some campground suggestions....without knowing exactly where you want to go and what you want to see....well, options are just too numerous.

Albuquerque, New...
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8. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

Mitch makes many very good points. One reason I wasn't pushing the Isleta pueblo RV park is that it wouldn't really give you an ABQ base because you'd have to drive the RV into town, although the nearby casino might have a shuttle you can use. Both Red River and Durango have free "trolleys" that will connect you between Roadrunner and Red River and United and Durango. The one in Durango has a regular, frequent schedule. The one in Red River you call and they're quick. The Grand Canyon has a wonderful shuttle service you can use and a great bicycle/pedestrian walkway. Both connect the Trailer Village with the rest of the south rim village, so no need to drive and hassle with parking at all. The Grand Canyon Trailer Village also has a nearby general store, a nearby cafeteria with wifi, and a nearby camper's shower and laundry. For the state parks, with hookups, and the national forests, without hookups, you'd be a bit more isolated, but that's the point. At the BLM one I mentioned near Pilar, it's a short hike or bicycle ride as I recall to Pilar. Pilar is a tiny village, but I think there's a store and cafe there. Pilar is headquarters for river rafting, which may or may not still be good. You'll have to ask more about that. There's also a new visitor's center right across the road. Like I said, pretty limited RV spaces there, but it is just across the road from the river, as I recall. It wouldn't be my first choice...in fact, I've never chosen it...but if there's still rafting and you're interested....

I don't know how renting works, and what comes with it, but it is true we load it up from home with bedding and some basic cookware. We take a portable propane grill, which works great to avoid cooking inside a lot. We use something like this, though may a larger version: amazon.com/Weber-386002-Portable-Propane-Gri…

I can't think of a place off hand that didn't have a little charcoal grill at the site.

The family loved the trips in the RV. It's more comfortable and the children could hook up their Wii (which takes far less electricity than other players) to an inverter and then plug into the TV monitor. Or play DVDs. Some might say that sort of defeats the purpose in some ways, but then that argument may apply to RVs generally. All I'm saying is that the kids love it!

Have to agree about Lincoln, but wouldn't know where to park RV and it is in a different direction from ABQ.

Albuquerque, New...
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9. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

NMDD makes another point I almost addressed. Some private RV parks are parking lots...but not all. The spaces for RVs at United are tight but it's not like parking at Walmart and you can find a nice, shady spot, view the surrounding mountains, trains and gliders while the kids play in the grass below. It does have a pool. And you need to get into Durango anyway during the day. (Admittedly, it's the relatives that RV at that one; we've always tent camped below.) The Roadrunner is quite nice for RV parks, with the stream and the trees. Much more natural, if you don't count the wooden statues and streetlamps. The Grand Canyon Trailer Village is not very attractive but otherwise the location is incredible! So are the stars! The AZ state park at Show Low was really, really nice. We were there a bit offseason...but really nice. NMDD's point about the public lands is also very good. It could be more rustic but also more beautiful and tranquil. I'd take NMDD up on more recommendations. Incidentally, whilemy wife grew up with big RVs, I've only used the small ones. Note sure if they are Class B or C. The advantage of small ones is that you can use them in places the big ones can not go. For example, the small ones are allowed in the Mather campground at Grand Canyon. No hookups, but nicer spots. Since our family is young we still could manage to sleep on the couch that converted into a king size bed. But anything's possible.

Albuquerque, New...
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10. Re: August in NM, maybe w/an RV. Ideas, opinions welcome.

Oh, along with renting bikes, you'll also want fishing poles. And for when you're grilling outside in the evening (easier all around), you'll want a least two comfortable camp chairs to enjoy your pre-dinner cocktail of choice and hors-dee-overs. Those would be a good investment. And the Wii and the DVDs: those were really for on the road. And nice to have milk and fruit, etc. along the way.

Edited: 21 May 2012, 23:48