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Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

Georgia
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Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

Hi, we will be traveling in early June on a family road trip with three outdoorsy, bike-and-skateboarding-loving boys ages 13, 12 and 9. We will be driving from GA to NM and AZ and CA with my wife joining us in AZ. I (the dad) am a teacher and have all summer off whereas my wife is not). We will be entering NM via I40 and have been reading a lot about the places to see such as the Blue Hole, White Sands, Lincoln Forest, Red Rocks, Gila Forest and mountain biking in Gallup. We have seen many caves so we will not do Carlsbad this time. We are an off-the-beaten path type of family who love history, a good casual meal in between buying food at the grocery store for our cooler, hiking, tent camping, biking (bringing our own), and museums and can't wait to see and experience the Southwest. The adult spa and shopping and nice restaurant type vacation will be at some other point in our lives....

Would love to find a couple of camp sites to use as a base, preferably near a stream. We will not be visiting ABQ or Santa Fe or Taos on this trip. We will most likely enter on I40, heading toward the White Sands area, then over to Gila area, then up to Gallup (have mountain bikes and any biking info would be appreciated for any towns). After Gallup we will enter AZ and then check out Alpine area. We will meet up with my wife after her flight into Phoenix and plan on seeing Sedona, Flagstaff, GC, Canyon de Chelle, and Monument Valley, before heading to Hoover Dam and then Calif (just so you know what we want to do in AZ so as to not duplicate for the Southern NM visit). Advice on tent camping, biking and cool places to visit are appreciated! Thanks!

Rose Valley RV Ranch & Casitas
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Silver City, New...
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1. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

Plenty of places to camp in and around the Gila Wilderness area, from primitive camping to comfortable campsites such as the Silver City KOA. One really unusual place to camp is City of Rocks State Park, midway between Silver City and Deming; you'll be camping in the shelter of huge rocks reminiscent of Stonehenge.

While Silver City is a pretty bike-friendly town, much of the Gila Wilderness is closed to mountain bikes. Gila Hike 'n' Bike here in Silver can tell you the best places to go for whatever biking and hiking interests you.

Silver City has a pretty neat skateboard/bike park that the kids should appreciate.

Top three places to go in the area include the Gila Cliff Dwellings (allow most of a day to drive to/from and see the dwellings), the Catwalk (an easy hour's drive from Silver) and the aforementioned City of Rocks. There's also a museum in town as well as one on the campus of Western New Mexico University that has the world's ;largest collection of Mimbres-era pottery, which should be of interest to history/anthropology buffs.

Hope this helps. Let me know if there are any specific items I can help you with.

Edited: 15 March 2010, 03:27
Georgia
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2. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

Thank you so much for the info and suggestions. I'll let you know if we have any other questions. Thanks again!

Albuquerque, New...
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3. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

Sounds like such a great trip. Wish I could help more but here's some tidbits I know. Town of Lincoln would be fascinating for the boys. I hear you can do primitive camping at White Sands (only camping around it, it's on my to-do list). Next to Alpine Area (I had to check that out online; want to know more) is Show Low with a great state park called Fool Hollow Lake (nice little town, too). Grand Canyon now has paved pedestrian/bike trail through middle of village, with large camping area, too. Canyon de Chelley: there's a great trail down to canyon from an observation point on south rim. Several switchbacks to valley floor, then shaded trail along river to ruins. Very cool. Oh, and Sedona ought to be mountain biking heaven.

Edited: 16 March 2010, 23:02
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4. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

Forgot to mention Slide Rock State Park just above Sedona. Very popular, limited parking, so best if you can get there early. Nominal fee, changing room, even snack bar. Short trail to river where boys can slide in natural chutes. Very very slippery. Go upriver to scope out spots. Bring towels, of course, some kind of water shoes, sunscreen. Really fun for your boys.

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5. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

I bet you're looking into grand canyon, maybe even the hikes down into it. I only know the south rim/village area, which might not be off enough from the path for you but I thought it was cool enough. Just wanted to mention that the Mather campground there is pretty large and is away from the hustle/bustle of the center of the village. You can reserve for campground; permits are required for backcountry. (Would need permit for White Sands backcountry, too.) The campground is several loops of gravel road in junipers. Bikes allowed on paved and unpaved roads and "greenway trails". (There's a road through RV park next door, next to hidden water tanks, to the greenway trail. That trail takes you to big new nearby Visitors Center in one direction; the historic area in the other.) Bikes are not allowed on rim trail. At top of campground is shower and laundry facility. Within about 1/3 mile of camping is Market Plaza, with a large grocery/general store and a deli with good assortment of food. I thought prices were okay; I saw firewood for sale there, too. Next door to that is Yavapai Lodge, which is a large cafeteria. It is also notable because it has free wi-fi there. Shuttles around village are fantastic; and I think you can mount your bikes on them. Location is the big plus here I think, and the stars.

Georgia
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6. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

Hi there,

Thanks so much for suggesting these parks. The one called Fool Hollow Lake looks great. It also led me to the info about how many state parks in AZ are closing. Good to know Slide Rock will still be open. Thanks for the info on Lincoln, NM also! We love real history and not the fabricated towns. A Google search led me to a bike trail called the Lincoln Trail, and about the movie, Young Guns, which we may need to rent.

Thanks again!

Georgia
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7. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

I just saw your post about the Grand Canyon. Whenever I read about it and the village it sounds so overwhelming. Of course we want to see it but are thinking of camping between Sedona and Flagstaff and just spending a day there, although my 13 yr old will be very happy to hear about the free wifi at that Lodge. That is really cool to hear that the shuttle buses have a place to latch on a bike. It is so overwhelming to reserve any camping for this trip to determine where we will be at what day. I know that we will need to try our best to figure out where to be and on what day. Thanks again for all these thoughts. P.S. The whole Lincoln County, NM area sounds terrific.

Albuquerque, New...
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8. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

So glad to hear. Yes, I think Lincoln is done about right and the history is a fascinating chapter. My recollection is there's a couple original sites there and then a nicely done, small visitor's center they added. Beautiful country; glad to hear about the bike trail, too. Sad to hear about the AZ parks closing. I think you will really like Sedona and Slide Rock. Fool Hollow Lake is a nice compromise between camping outdoors and having facilities available for families. Very new. Some very pretty spots tucked in rocks and hills and trees. It's close in to the town, but you don't realize that when you are there. Town has everything you could want. I think camping between Sedona and Flagstaff as base for Grand Canyon is too far. I agree the village is a bit overwhelming. The nice thing about the Mather campground is that you are removed from the central village but still have very easy access to the park. I wanted to check out, but didn't, the east entrance (straight north from Flagstaff; in general direction of Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelley). There's a campground there, too, I heard about--first come, first served; then 25 mile drive to southrim/village. I don't know how far in advance you have to reserve Mather Campground; it is large, but my guess is it fills up for summer. In the past, I either drove up from Williams or stayed in the historic area. We really liked the convenience of being in the eastern part of the village and having at least one complete day to explore. Once we had our base, we were free to walk to the showers, general store, lodge, even the visitor's center and the rim, or catch a shuttle to anywhere in the village. The historic area is fun (we had one dinner there) but we ended up spending most of our short time in the eastern half. Our favorite for the rim turned out to be Yavapai Point: nice trail, close, and an old, small, but terrific center with a geological display. My 8 year old loved the wifi with breakfast. I think I would have been unhappy camping around Tusayan, but I did just see something about "dispersed camping" in the Kaibab National Forest. I thought it was great they were encouraging bicycles. Once I noticed bike racks on the shuttles, I started to look out for bike racks to lock up your bikes. I don't know about that. Oh, and the eastern end is a good place to find parking when you are coming in from the outside. Whether you are staying in the park or coming in for the day, you still pay the same entrance fee. I recall it's good for a few days.

Edited: 18 March 2010, 02:58
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9. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

Since I'm hooked for the moment, thought I'd also mention a couple more things. Besides the movie, there's a couple of pretty good books on the Lincoln County War and Billy the Kid. The one I read, though, is pretty dated. Another interesting historical note is that you might pass Ft. Sumner on the way from I-40 to Lincoln. (I'm not suggesting a stop there, because I just don't know anything about it.) Ft. Sumner ties into two subjects of your trip if you do Lincoln and Canyon de Chelley. It is reputed to be where Billy the Kid was shot and buried and was the destination of the Long Walk of the Navajo. That's an interesting chapter of history, too, (sad really) and involves Kit Carson. The story of that "walk" begins in Canyon de Chelley. That trail I discussed before into the canyon should be easy to locate and is very doable for children. When you are on the rim, it looks daunting. I vaguely remember a hogan and sheep corrals at the canyon bottom. The trail along the river to the ruins (White House) is refreshing. While out there, go to observation point for Spider Woman rock, important part of Navajo creation story. There's a good visitors center at the mouth of the canyon, and I think there's a campground, too.

Georgia
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10. Re: Camping and biking for Dad and 3 sons

Wow! I am ecstatic about all this info you provided on both the Grand Canyon and Lincoln and de Chelle. Grand Canyon--these details really help picture things since like I said it gets overwhelming reading about it in books. We do have a long trip and with tent camping we are trying to not have a new place each night since that will try everyone's patience. I knew I definitely wanted to hike Canyon de Chelle when I heard about it. I'm going to read more on the history of Billy the Kid and Kit Carson this month.

Last summer we drove to Estes Park, CO and then up thru Wyoming and into the Black Hills (Crazy Horse, Rushmore, etc.). So much of what my boys are learning in school was right there. Can't wait to learn more about the SW. Thanks again!