Adventure Location: Apache Kid Wilderness, NM
The plan was to stay at home and take it easy. That worked until after lunch. A reader emailed me for advice on trailer suspension modifications to let him get out boondocking better. That got me to thinking about the many times I have been asked about that particular item. Then it came to me that the Team is in just the right location to go out and get pictures of a couple of boondocking areas. Then tonight positive information can be given out. So we did. Keep in mind that motorhomes can go nearly any place the trailers can go. You do not have to beat your RV to death to get remote.
The road chosen is FR139 heading into the Apache Kid Wilderness. It is very typical of the road and boondocking areas that the Teams have experienced in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming and Montana. So yep we have seen a few locations in the last ten years plus.
Sometimes the gravel is coarser so your over the road speed must slow down. By and large what you will see tonight holds true for the western states in the forests or in the desert. In some cases the overhead obstructions determine if you can take the route or not. This happens in the forests most often but the rock overhangs in central Oregon did restrict us a few times.
What it all boils down to is that your tires are the weak spot. The suspensions all handle the normal boondock just fine. Get the largest diameter wheels that let the tires operate in the wheel wells of your rig. Get Load Range D or higher if possible. The gravel will eat the soft ride tires. The higher load range tires are typically tougher tires and hold up to the gravel better.
Aggressive tread tires are not preferred if you will be going into many different types of surfaces. If you try aggressive tread on the beach or soft sand all you will do is dig your grave. It may not happen the first time but it will happen. Fifty years of soft sand and beach experience are part of my life. Pulling a trailer on the sand requires a more street style tread.
Now on to the examples of surfaces normally found away from the beaches.
These two spots are along Forest Road 139 going into the Apache Kid Wilderness from the Interstate north of Elephant Butte.
The first spot is typical of the flat desert you find in a lot of BLM land. The Team turned off the frontage road and went about a hundred feet. There was the first legal boondocking spot waiting for us. This picture shows the road condition going into the wilderness. It stays like this all until it gets way into the mountains.
The Truck was pulled into the cleared area and parked. This picture shows how rough the road is pulling into the boondocking spot.
Keep in mind the interstate is about four hundred feet to the right from the truck. You are on legal free camping ground. Check out the back ground. Almost all of what your eyes can behold is legal free camping territory. Again this is BLM land.
From here we passed through six miles of BLM land heading toward the National Forest. Sometimes there are gullies or other obstructions to prevent you from pulling off the road but there will be an acceptable spot in a minute or two.
At the six mile mark we entered the Cibola National Forest land. This sometimes has slightly more restricted rules than the BLM but always check on the what the rules are for the particular area you are planning to camp upon.
Notice the road is still very good. Notice the flat areas near the sign. That is legal camping. Notice the background because all of that is legal camping also. It might be too rugged to pull your rig into it, but it would be legal.
The Team passed several locations that have been used in the past for camping by folks. Our goal was to get to the last flat camping area before the road gets too rough, narrow and twisty for trailers.
At eight miles from the interstate we arrived at the last legal flat area an RV can make it onto. It certainly seems remote enough for me. This next picture is the entry to this flat area.
Notice the main road we have been following is still a good gravel road. The turn in to the area is also very good. This is typical from my experiences. The Truck is parked on the first previously used spot for camping. This particular location has about forty acres of flat area to use for your enjoyment.
From this spot your RV could be oriented to give you this view.
By driving on the road to the back of the area and orienting your rig in the correct direction this could be your view.
I know this is not really out where nobody goes. However you can be certain that any place you can drag a trailer or motorhome has had somebody there before. Today for the three hours we were out there, we only had one other vehicle, with tent campers, come past and this is the start of the Labor Day weekend!
Boondocking does not require a suspension for climbing steep cliffs and over large boulders. On many trailers and motorhomes the body will not withstand all the racking that going on really rough roads requires. Just staying on the reasonable roads opens more places to you than you can explore in a few lifetimes.
In the parts of the Apache Kid Wilderness that the Teams have explored there are at least a hundred places the Castle could be taken without any difficulty at all towing along the gravel roads.
This is just one more excellent way of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.