A scenic shot from Wild Rivers BLM overlook at the confluence of Red River and the Rio Grande. A fabulous recommendation from our camphosts.
We’ve been very busy these past weeks exploring all the cool little corners of The Enchanted Circle NM. There is so much to see here, and so many interesting side-stories to discover. From hidden petroglyphs in the Rio Grande Valley, to the moving and beautiful Vietnam Veterans Memorial (the life-work of a father in memory of his son), stream hikes in Cimarron and Columbine Canyons, gold history in Elizabethtown, beer and music festivals in Red River (another one coming up this week-end) and wild, wide open views at Wild Rivers BLM (talk about remote!). It’s a wonder we get time to eat and sleep!
The very moving and beautiful Vietnam Veterans Memorial near Angel Fire, NM
Some time ago someone asked me on the blog how we find all these interesting spots. I do seem to have a happily gifted nose for good food and wine which, combined with a total lack of direction leads us into a plethora of unusual and fascinating areas. But, I also cheat a bit and figured I would share some of those ideas on the blog. So,with that said here’s my winning poker hand for finding great things to do on the road.
A restored wagon in Eagle Nest. We got tons of interesting history on the place from the Visitor Center and our neighbors.
1/ Go to the Visitors Center – Many major towns, especial those with a bit of a tourist bent have a visitors center, and if you get chatting you can find out all kinds of interesting things to see and do. They’re a great resource from anything from sightseeing to hiking and eating out.
2/ Talk to the Camphost – If you’re in a campground with a host, they’ll often be someone who’s very familiar with the area. As an example our current host here in Columbine Canyon Forest has been coming to this area for 40 years. Talk about experience! He gave us tips on great hikes as well as the remote (and totally amazing) Wild Rivers BLM. I always make it a point to chat to the host.
Hidden petroglyphs on the Vista Verde trail at Orilla Verde. We found them by chatting with the local Ranger about his favorite hike.
3/ Meet the Ranger - If you’re anywhere near a forest or BLM, the local ranger can be a wealth of information. Not only can they tell you about camping and boondocking spots, but they’ll help you root out some great hikes too. We met the lead ranger at Wild Rivers the other day who gave us all kinds of history on the area as well as the best place to remote-camp with the beast (it’s El Aguaje Campground in Wild Rivers, by the way -> *no-one* goes there). After an hour chat he even offered us a hosting job. We may well come back for that one!
The cute little ski town of Red River rocks it out with food, wine and music festivals throughout summer. A good tip from our neighbours.
4/ Get Friendly With Your Neighbors – I’m naturally a very sociable person and will usually stop to chat to neighbors in the campground. You’ll often meet people who are local or have traveled to spots you have yet to see. In Eagle Nest we met a couple who RV for blues festivals and that’s how we found out about the week-end gig at Red River. We also met Bob at the same campground…the guy who knows a guy who knows about the gold…you know…
5/ Go Online - The online RV forums are a *wealth* of information on RVing, but they can also be great resources for things to see and do. If I’m testing out a route or destination I’ll often ask on the forums. There are also a bunch of great websites including Roadside America, a fabulous resource for quirky and unusual attractions on the road.
Hiking to Gold Mountain in Columbine Canyon. A wonderful recommendation from our host.
Oh and if you’re wondering how I get all the cool low-down, apart from natural charm and bribes I ask two very simple questions…first ”What is your favorite thing to see/do/eat in the area?”…and second “Why?”. The lead-off question gets the info flowing, but the second question gets to the really juicy stuff. It’s an old sales-trick don’t you know, and it works every time. Got any tips of your own?