Even before I bought the RV I knew this was a trip I wanted to take: El Malpais and El Morro – National Monuments in New Mexico. And October is a beautiful month here. Cottonwoods are turning yellow and gold; skies are full of cloud and color. Cool enough to hike, warm enough to sit outside.
The drive there took longer than I expected – I really drive slowly. Going north on I-25 I saw many RVs and trucks with travel trailers headed south. Snowbird migration has started.
I-25 was easy driving. And then I turned west on Highway 6 at Las Lunas to cut across to I-40. At that point I have to get on the interstate for a few miles and I thought that might help me make better time. Awful. Lots of traffic – trucks, big RVs, everything going fast. I got off at the first exit – it allowed me to get on Route 66. Sigh. It’s a beautiful drive through Laguna, Paraje, Budville, Cubero, San Fidel, and McCarty’s to the turn-off south on Highway 117 to El Malpais. I was sorry to see that the Ranger Station and Visitor Center are closed permanently. I stopped at the Joe Skeen campground. There are about 8 or 10 campsites – picnic tables, shelters, and vault toilets – no other facilities. There were only a couple of other campers, but some very noisy coyotes! And dark, starry skies.
The campsite was at the base of a bluff with an easy trail to the top where we could wander for miles. Cassie and I both liked it. We walked there every day, sometimes twice.
One day we walked toward the Sandstone Bluffs and accidentally wandered on and then off Acoma Pueblo land. Walked only about two miles, but both of us were tired when we returned.
My camera batteries were low – major crisis! I have no way to recharge them except running the generator. No one was around so I ran it about an hour. Annoying. A better plan is to move to the El Morro RV park to get electric hook-ups.
Leaving Joe Skeen I went sightseeing by way of the top of the Sandstone Bluffs which overlook the lava fields. And a little way down Highway 117 to see Ventana Arch and the part of the Continental Divide Trails that crossed the malpais. Then it’s just a short drive to the RV park.
And some interesting rock detail.
The second part of this trip to El Morro National Monument is here.