Caverns, Cliff Houses, and Dunefields.

Lily and I had a productive several days getting chores done and resetting the Airstream in Tucson. The highlight of our time in Tucson – I was treated to an authentic Mexican food dinner the night before we hitched up and continued East to our next destination. Thanks for dinner Chris Huff.

El Charro Cafe – the nations oldest Mexican Restaurant and the inventor of the Chimichanga!

Tombstone, AZ

Before arriving at our next big destination, we made a quick stop at the town of Tombstone. It was on the way to our Harvest Host winery stop. Tombstone was an interesting little tourist trap and my friends from Oregon said it was a must do so we made the stop to check it out.

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Camping in Arizona State Parks is a real treat IMO so I was very much looking forward to this destination. We stayed for 3 nights and really enjoyed the area. I spent one entire afternoon exploring the caverns on two guided tours. Unfortunately, Kartchner Caverns does not allow photos inside the caves so I cannot share my personal experience but it was really phenomenal to see the wonders that exist deep inside the earth. I included some photos from the website to show how amazing it was.

The only photographic proof that I was here 😝.
The Throne Room Tour ended with a little light show exhibiting the cavern columns.
Soda Straws hanging above the foot trench the original discovers made when first entering in 1974.
Daytime view from our campsite #25.
And, sunset view from our campsite #25.

This was our last stop in Arizona before heading into The Land of Enchantment. We will be back in AZ soon to visit Sedona and Lake Powell before heading in Southern Utah. But first, New Mexico.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

We crossed over the State Line on a rather windy drive from Arizona to New Mexico. This was the first time I experienced heavy wind gusts while towing the Airstream at highway speeds. It was a little stressful and unnerving so I set the cruise control to about 10 under the 75 MPH speed limit. Lily slept through it all.

The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument was first on the list to see during our stay in Southwest New Mexico. Lily and I drove the 2 hour one-lane windy mountain road from Silver City to the 700 year old ruins deep in the Gila Wilderness. What a cool experience to climb the ladders and tour the insides of the ancient Mogollon homes.

Silver City, NM

We were parked at a strange little RV park which honestly felt like camping in someones back yard. It was an OK home base albeit very dusty – New Mexico is very dusty. The folks I encountered while camping there were interesting as well – many new age types and one guy told me he was there because the crystals in the earth told him to come visit them. I shared some of my lesser good wines with them and called it a day.

Parked in a someones backyard for 3 nights 😂.

Before leaving the area we stocked up on groceries and explored the artsy little town of Silver City. As I was walking around the tiny historic downtown, I discovered Tranquilbuzz Coffee and experienced my first “Dirty Chai Latte” which is a Chai Latte with a shot of espresso and it was DELICIOUS!!!!! Oh, and I enjoyed a cinnamon roll too.

Tranquilbuzz Coffee – such an awesome and chill and unique spot to sit and relax..

Sufficiently caffeinated and glucose elevated, I took in some interesting wall artwork around the historic buildings that encompassed downtown Silver City.

Las Cruces, NM

We were more than ready to move on from Silver City and head Northeast to our next destination. But first, a quick stop in Las Cruces to hike the Dripping Springs trail and have lunch overlooking the Melilla Valley. I needed to kill a few hours before arriving at the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park.

Parked at the trailhead overlooking Las Cruces.
The old livery where you would park your horses before entering Dripping Springs.
Just a quick trail selfie before hiking into the canyon. It’s hard to tell in a 1-dimensional picture how deep and tall the rock canyon behind me really was.
What’s left of the Dripping Springs resort.
The stone trail leading to the old Sanatorium.
The springs were dripping, barely. I think it gets better after a rain storm.

White Sands National Park

We left Las Cruces and drove over the San Andreas Mountains into the birthplace of America’s Missile and Space Activity – White Sands. What a cool and amazing place this is. I came to the park during the day to hike around the dunes with Lily and then back again at sunset to capture the effect the sunset has on the sands and dunefields. It was such a unique experience being there.

A little white doggy in a giant white desert.
Looking towards the missile test range area.

And then sunset arrived and it was really magical to see the sand change colors as the sun glowed behind the San Andreas Mountains.

A yucca tree poised against the purple/pink NM sky.
Little doggy footprints in the sand.
It’s marvelous how the sand takes on the color of the sky at dusk.
This place left a special impression on me.

Olive Lee Memorial State Park

This was our home for 4 days while we explored White Sands and I’m telling you camping at State Parks are the absolute best. They are always positioned in beautiful places with lots of space to roam and explore.

Space 22 nestled under the Dog Canyon.
You cannot beat State Parks for the best camping locations,
Our view from site 22 looking out over the Sacramento Mountains.

The sunsets I’ve experienced on this journey have been epic and the ones here in New Mexico do not disappoint. Just look how the rays shine onto the desert floor as the sun hangs onto the horizon.

Every night I’ve enjoyed Tequila happy hour with a stunning view and every morning cold brew coffee with the same amazing view.

Happy Hour.
Morning Hour.

Alas, we are nearly done with New Mexico. Our next destination is Albuquerque which isn’t really a destination but the truck is asking for an oil change and I need to pickup some Amazon packages and visit Costco and Trader Joes. Once we get those chores done we head back into Arizona for a few nights in Sedona. Can’t wait!

6 thoughts on “Caverns, Cliff Houses, and Dunefields.

  1. So glad you’ve had a good time experiencing the desert. We really miss those areas. Looks like you’re seeing everything and enjoying the state parks. Lily will never be satisfied living in the condo again. Love and miss you.

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  2. Trip looks great Paul. Keep enjoying and stay well. Weather is warming in BS hard to believe we have been here 2.5 months already. 2 months left to enjoy. Cheers!

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  3. Amazing experiences! The delight of new experiences, total immersion in microlocalities, the soothing comfort bubble of a curated home a few steps away, you have succeeded in creating an enviable questing lifestyle.

    I remember NM, Taos and cliff dwellings from another life. Your dialogue and photos sharpened my memories.

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