Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Camping and Hiking at Rockhound State Park, New Mexico

Campsite view
View from the campground

Gem Rock examplesRockhound State Park in New Mexico is one of, I believe, only two state parks in the country that encourage rock collecting.  If one knows what to look for, there are a lot of geodes and other collectible and semi-precious stones.  They do ask that people limit what they take, but collectors are encouraged to go off-trail since most of the geodes near the trails have already been taken.  It was here that I learned that a rock that I found last year is called a “thunder egg”; it is a round stone that looks like a geode except the inside isn’t hollow.

Cactus FlowersI also learned that a conical mountain, like Miter Peak near Davis Mountains state park, is likely the remains of a lava plug from a volcano.  The lava rose and hardened and then erosion later cleared away the softer rock from around it.

View of flatlandT-Mobile coverage here was disappointing.  Even though my phone showed I had a strong 5G signal, my transfer speeds weren’t even adequate for email or texting.  I called customer support and found out that I was “local roaming” to an AT&T tower; it seems that T-Mobile still takes credit for offering high speed internet even though it isn’t on their tower, so customers don’t actually get what they think they’re getting. 

That aside, I really liked this spot.  I went on a nice hike along the side of the mountain next to the campground and had the trail to myself and the views were amazing.

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View of Mountains Wildflowers Bench
Lizard Looking up at mountain Overlooking Campground
Shaded Overlook Shaded Shelter Trail Selfie
Trail View Trailhead Wildflowers

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Camping at Pine Springs Campground

“Campsite” at Pine Springs Campground

This campground is really just a paved area in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  I picked the spot because it was pretty close to Carlsbad Caverns.  After visiting the area, I think I would have been better off boondocking at one of the many nearby boondocking areas. 

Cloudy mountainThe view here is nice, and if I had an extra day for the trip, I would have liked to hike to Devil’s Hall, but my full day was already planned out with  a visit to the caverns.  I did take a short hike through an old riverbed down to the remains of the old Pinery Station.

I learned something about my camper on this trip though… I learned, on the first night, that a single battery is not enough to run the heater and the refrigerator overnight, even though I ran nothing else.  Once the sun came up, the single battery charged fully and the solar panel kept everything running during the day.  On the second night, I didn’t use the heater at all, and the battery  still didn’t make it through the night.  I am glad I learned that before I got to the Grand Canyon as it did influence how I used my generator when I was in the middle of  Kaibab National Forest.

Related Post

!Me by the sign
Visiting Carlsbad Caverns

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Mountains toward Pine Springs Trail Descriptions Trailhead
Wildflowers Paved Trail Pinery Station Placard
Pinery Station Remains-1 Pinery Station Remains-2 Rocky riverbed
Trail backc to campground   Pinery Station plaque

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park

!Me by the sign
Entrance to the Visitor Center

This is one of my bucket-list stops, and it was great!  It’s pretty amazing going down the stairs at the entrance to think about how the guy who discovered the caverns would have experienced it.  Imagine that as soon as he was the bottom of the entrance, there would have been almost no ambient light and he continued exploring even deeper with only the light he could  bring with him.  Along the way he  would have been navigating through loose rock and boulders.  Today, of course, the caverns are lit well enough and the path is paved with a guard rail to keep visitors from straying off.

Cave Boobie
Cave Boob

The trip through the cave is about 1 1/4 miles and with a steep descent that works out to be about 79 stories.  It’s pretty easy to do though, and there is an elevator at the bottom that I rode up back to the visitor center.  I think my favorite formation was the Cave Boob (my name for it).  There are other formations that are more visually interesting, but this one made me giggle like a fifteen year old.

Cave Formation-02 Cave Formation-29 Cave Formation-30
Cave Formation-03 Cave Formation-05 Cave Formation-06

Old Wooden Staircase
Old Wooden Staircase

At one point in the cave, they have left an old wooden staircase that was used by visitors to the cave long before the paved trail was put in.  (Maybe before it was made part of the national park system).

Cave Formation-09 Cave Formation-10 Cave Formation-12
Cave Formation-24 Cave Formation-25 Cave Formation-28 Mirror Lake
Cave Formation-31 Placard Cave Formation-31 Cave Formation-29 Placard
Cavern Entrace-2 Cavern Entrance-1 Entrance Placard