Datil Well: Getting There

Datil Well campground is west of Socorro, New Mexico, off Highway 60. It’s about 140 miles from home for me. That’s a 3 hour drive in the RV.

We stopped at The Box just out of Socorro for a break. This is a popular area for rock climbing, hiking, and ATVs.

Highway 60 goes from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Santa Monica, California. This little stretch goes across the San Augustin plains home of the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescopes.

Highway 60 – VLA ahead on the left

Datil Well is a BLM campground with a history of being a watering hole for cattle being driven to market in the 1800s. There are about 20 campsites, three with electricity. And only $5 a night – half that with a pass. The sites are large and well spaced among the piñon and juniper trees.

View from the RV door
The table is a little warped, but has a fine view.

There are miles of hiking trails on which dogs are allowed. This is one of my favorite nearby camping sites.

FlossieB on Rocky Point – campground is in the background.

Bisti and Beyond – Part 2

(Part One is here)


A very pleasant drive from El Morro to Grants, Milan, and Prewitt to Bluewater State Park. Again I took only the I-40 frontage road – Old Route 66. The park is just seven miles south of the highway.

I found a shaded, fairly flat site with electricity ($4/night with a park pass). The campsites are well spaced, but many are not very level. There are tables and fire rings, vault toilets, but no water. I heard that the system has been broken for several weeks. And the dump station is under construction. I’ll stay at least two nights. The park is long and narrow – the lake on one side, the dam on the end, and the canyon below the dam on the other side.

We walked around the campground and then called it a night. Tuesday was my first day alone for a while. I needed more like this. No involvement in anyone else’s drama. Just a few campfire stories to entertain.

In the morning, Cassie and I walked the Dam View Trail, past Piñon Campground. Piñon is closed for the season, but has beautiful hillside sites facing the lake. The trail was easy, not much elevation change.

On this trip I haven’t made a ‘nest’ for myself outside. On other trips I’ve set up my recliner and been happily ensconced with book, camera, drink, and journal. Part of it is that the newly remodeled ‘lounge’ is so comfortable. The table isn’t perfect, but I don’t have any ideas how to change it yet.

I’ve been amazed at the number of folks who come in after dark to set up. I don’t know if I could choose a site in the dark. This time I noticed those who came late often left early. I think they are travelers more than campers. They are headed somewhere and this is just a stop for the night.

I brought filtered water from home for drinking, especially for making tea. It lasted about six days. I switched to a Brita filter pitcher with the potable water in the fresh water tank. This is tap water from home that is okay, but doesn’t taste very good. Have to say the Brita filter didn’t improve the taste.

I can do without cell service and most wifi, but sure would have liked weather reports. Decided I’d head to Bisti/De-Na/Zin Wilderness area Wednesday and take my chances before the weather changed too much. Other than that one cold night, it was okay. And the days were just glorious. October is a beautiful month in New Mexico.

Early the next morning I started getting ready. One thing to do before we leave is to give Cassie at least a short walk. About 30 feet from the RV we came across two piles of horse manure. i had been told that there were wild horses here, but I had forgotten. Didn’t see them – just their calling cards. And Cassie did not alert me to anything in the night – a moonless night.

We started for Bisti – along Old 66 to the west and then north on Highway 371 out of Thoreau. Good roads all the way. I refueled at Thoreau because I didn’t know what to expect, but there were several gas stations on the way north. Bisti was about a 90 mile drive – then three miles on a good gravel road to the trailhead. Just a parking lot for a camp area, no facilities – this is a wilderness area. There were several other cars and one RV – New Mexico, Illinois, Colorado, Texas, and South Dakota. Good variety.

We hiked out towards two orange peaks – really orange. It was less than a mile out, but in the heat of the day, it was plenty for me.


I decided to stay the night, but I wasn’t sure I’d do more hiking. It is bleak in a wonderful way, but the good formations are about two miles out and the best are four miles. That’s more than I could do by myself. It would be better to camp out there for a few days. The only way I can see doing that is to hire someone to take the essentials out for me – water and food for two or three days, a tent, sleeping bad, and stove. That’s way too much for me. It remains a dream.

Staying the night was so easy with the RV – a bit of leveling and I was set. So much easier than tent camping. And I could have driven away if I wanted to.

Lots of folks came and went during the day – maybe 20 or so. That surprised me. A couple of guys came in late afternoon. They had huge backpacks – planning to be out there for a couple of days. They even had a beautiful red umbrella. There is no shade here.

It was a quiet evening. Someone came in a couple of hours before sunrise. He got his gear together and headed out. The first stop is the book where you sign in. Then there’s a stile off to the south to get through the barbed wire fence. But he didn’t go that way, he went straight to the fence, couldn’t get through and headed north – all this in the dark. He went out of sight and then about dawn showed up across the road and headed back to the trailhead. This time he found the way through the fence. He headed out for the wilderness. Now I was a bit quick to judge him as clueless, mostly because I like to do a lot of research, especially with Google Earth, to know where the trail is. Then I decided that maybe this is his way to get comfortable in a new area. I hoped so. This landscape eats clueless.

Sunrise at Bisti

I decided I would go back to Bluewater SP. Couldn’t find anything else in this area that was appealing and not too far north (read: cold). Pleasant drive back. I found a campsite on the edge of the canyon. And horses everywhere! About a dozen, mostly sorrels.


We took a short walk to see where the horses were going. Short because the clouds came in with lots of thunder and Cassie was not happy. We headed inside.

Got settled just in time for a few scattered showers. I loved being in the lounge, reading, with rain outside. It was cozy – like being in tree fort when I was a kid.

Cassie was not as comfortable on this stormy evening, so I decided to see what it would be like to sleep ‘downstairs.’ I usually sleep over the cab where the dog cannot go. But the lounge still converts to a bed so I tried that with just my sleeping bag. Very comfortable and Cassie was happy to cuddle.

We stayed two nights, hiked a little, read a lot (finished ‘Salt’ – very good history of my favorite seasoning). I like this park and will definitely come back to spend more time. I’d like to hike in the canyon – didn’t this trip because I just didn’t feel very energetic. On the way out, I saw that the new dump station was open, but I didn’t stop. I was headed home.

Came home after ten days and 768 miles. My longest trip so far and I loved the meandering aspect. I can do longer trips, but would like to work out the wifi issues a little. I like this RV travel!

Solo Camping

I camped for a couple of nights at El Morro National Monument (New Mexico) campground.

This was the view from my campsite.  There are only 9 spaces so it fills up quickly. I shared my space with a woman who was car-camping – that made 10 campers for the night.  Six of us were single women, including a young Canadian who was bicycling from Montreal to Los Angeles. I would guess our ages were from mid-twenties to seventies.  I was impressed that so many women traveled on their own.