Boondocking at El Malpais National Monument
July 25, 2019
After spending 10 days with friends in Taos (blog post here) and Santa Fe (another awesome post here) with our Xscaper friends, we needed some quiet time to ourselves. The El Malpais National Conservation Area provided just that!
Joe Skeen Campground
Outside Grants, New Mexico is a hidden gem. Joe Skeen Campground is a free boondocking site with developed campsites.
Each site, although most were unlevel, comes with a large covered cement patio and picnic table. There were vault toilets on site which were cleaned daily. Trash containers were all over the park and those were also emptied regularly. Our site was at the base of a cliff so the cell service was not very good. However, the sites on the west side, closer to highway 117 had fantastic service.
El Malpais National Conservation Area
Just past the campground, in the El Malpais Natural Conservation Area on Highway 117 are natural arches. It is a short hike in to see them. This is one of my favorite natural formations that we have stumbled upon. It amazes me how wind and water have formed arches in rock.
I really love places like this that are not very popular. It really gives one time to enjoy the sites without a mob of people coming in to take selfies. We did enjoy ourselves in Moab at Arches but we really appreciated enjoying these formations alone.
Camping with New Friends
We love getting to meet people we have been messaging online. One of the people we have been talking to for a while was going to be in northern New Mexico for a while and our paths just happened to be crossing. He has stayed at this campground many times before and invited us to join him this time. Not only did we have the opportunity to spend time in a gorgeous new area, but we also had the opportunity to enjoy delicious coffee with a new friend.
On our last night, a solo traveler parked next to us. He came over and introduced himself and we invited him for coffee the next morning. I love getting to meet new people and learn about their travels. It’s great to share places we’ve been that they’re traveling to and learn about where they have been and getting tips on where we should go.
Hiking in the Desert
Just behind the campground is great hiking.
We hiked up the hill to the top of the cliff that was behind our site. At the top, we could see for miles and had an amazing view of the camp.
One of my favorite things about life on the road is the everchanging scenery and the constant opportunity to explore. We came across a deep crevasse in the rocks, enjoyed the beauty of cactus flowers, and sat on the edge of a cliff taking it all in.
Route 66 Neon Drive Thru
Grants, New Mexico has built a Route 66 sign that you can drive through. The fifth wheel would have fit through, but we didn’t want to risk it. It is lit up with neon signs at night and beautifully painted for daylight pictures. I am a huge fan of roadside attractions and find them on Roadside America. This one has been on the list for a while!
Spending a little over a week in Cibola county was never on my bucket list. However, I am so glad that we did. It provided another opportunity to explore a sparsely populated area, enjoy nature, and take some time for ourselves. What have you stumbled upon that you absolutely loved? Leave a comment below.