Escapito #6: Summer Sequel …. A Desert SW Escape       Part 4: Indian Bread Rocks, AZ to City of Rocks, NM

October 22/23, 2022

We usually know where we’re headed in the morning, but how we get there is another story. As we left Indian Bread Rocks we talked about optional routes to reach our destination …. City of Rocks State Park. There were several choices, and since we’re not interstate highway fans (unless absolutely necessary) we opted for the road less traveled; through New Mexico’s “Bootheel” in the extreme southwestern part of the state.  Going this way we might just catch a glimpse of that infamous Border Wall too.

Although this route was the long way to City of Rocks (200 miles versus 110 miles), it was definitely eye-opening. As we traveled lonely roads, dodging no less than 3 huge rattlesnakes sunning themselves on the pavement, the only vehicles we saw were border patrol. It was windy and hot as we approached the Mexican border, and we strained our eyes to see something resembling a Wall off in the distance.  Between Hachita and Columbus, NM, we could make out what looked to be a RR bed in the valley bottom. Binoculars weren’t much use, as this very straight line wasn’t resolving into a Wall, until ….. all at once we saw the RR track climb straight up a pretty substantial hill. That answered the question …. that faux track was indeed the Border Wall, and we had already seen miles and miles of it.

Border Wall

A short distance out of Columbus, driving very close to the border, we found a side road that appeared to lead down to the Wall, so we went to investigate. Coming within about a quarter mile of the Border Wall we saw how very tall it was, and how it was built with metal slats too close for a person to squeeze through, but spaced and angled just so to see Mexico beyond. 

Border Wall

We’re both glad to have seen this Wall for ourselves. Rest assured I’ve no intention of turning my blog posts into political commentary, but I have to say this obscene border wall is absolutely embarrassing and offensive. 

Border Wall

On to Columbus, North to Deming and to City of Rocks State Park.

Our assigned campsite was a pull through and it was a snap to get The Felix all set up. Then it was off for a nice romp through the assortment of boulders that were created from volcanic tuff and eroded over years to form what appears like, from a distance, a city of high rises. There’s a marked trail through the rock formations that lead you to some of the best rocks and views. But it’s more than okay to wander wherever your legs take you … and sometimes it’s like a maze with many dead ends.  The Park also has a nice botanical garden, many “outside the city” trails, and a super visitor center with helpful volunteer staff offering info like lists of plants, birds, insects, reptiles and mammals you might encounter in the park.

Discovering City of Rocks
Roy and Luna rock hopping

Before a big cold front blew in bringing rain and winds, I was able to do some sketching, we spotted lots of new-to-us plants (still in bloom) and a gorgeous rainbow grasshopper. Several birds (cactus wren, curve-billed thrasher and canyon towhee) paid us a call at The Felix.  About to go searching for the covey of scaled quail making quite a racket somewhere in the rocks, we changed that plan ….. a good decision as we would’ve gotten drenched with rain!

Rainbow grasshopper calling City of Rocks home
The approaching storm made for nice photos
Cat-claw Mimosa

This was our third trip to City of Rocks, and not likely to be our last. It’s a fun place to visit for a short time or an extended stay.

Before the storm

We were going to enjoy one more day in SW NM east of Las Cruces before returning home, but the weather forecast for the next many days called for high winds, rain and snow ….. so, not at all disappointed in all the ground we covered we came home a day early, driving all 283 miles in good time thanks to a tail-wind assist.

(Turns out the next day, had we stayed one day longer, would’ve greeted us with rain, freezing rain and snow by the time we got home. I could feel it in my bones!)

All in all it was a great Escapito #6, all 4 stops and the 922 miles in between, and a fun way to close out the 2022 camping season (or is it?!).  Stay tuned!

Thanks for coming along!

Escapito #6: Summer Sequel …. A Desert SW Escape       Part 3: Clifton, AZ to Indian Bread Rocks, AZ

October 21/22, 2022

Another short (96 miles) drive took us from Clifton, through Safford (to find ice cream ….. it’s getting warm!), and then south of the nearly deserted town of Bowie to visit a sprawling garden of giant granite boulders called Indian Bread Rocks.  We seem to find the most amazing collections of boulders and rocks around, and this area didn’t disappoint. Unable to find out the origin of the name “Indian Bread Rocks,” this new-to-us recreation area sits in the foothills on the northeast fringes of Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness Area …. both areas managed by Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Public lands “Rock!”

Scene just before entering Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area …. Previews! Dos Cabezas Mountains in the background

To access Indian Bread Rocks (maybe the name came from the big loaf-shaped boulders?), you must first pass by a few miles of pistachio orchards looking ready to harvest. Wonder where the irrigation water for these big trees comes from way out in this desert? We then made a southwest turn onto a gravel road (Happy Camp Canyon Road) and in 3 miles we arrived at the designated Indian Bread Rocks picnic area, “sandwiched” between extremely large boulders.  No camping here tho … so we continued on up the deteriorating two track road, pushing bawling cows out of our way. These free-range Brahman bulls, cows and calves turned into camp visitors after we set up about 3/4 mile beyond the picnic area.

Entering Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area ….. a loaf with a face?

With the rocks calling louder than the bellowing livestock, we brought The Felix to rest and took off on foot, walking further up the dusty road to scope out the area for a longer hike after temps cooled down a bit (85 sunny degrees and loving it!). 

Free range Brahaman cattle

The surrounding granite boulders really were very excellent, and seemed to be animated as well. Many looked like bakery goods; loaves of bread, pancakes, popovers and muffins. Some reminded me of dinosaurs like T-Rex and triceratops. There were precariously balanced hoodoo-like boulders, and many with dark hiding places that make perfect roosting places for bats (which we enjoyed at sunset). 

Discovering Indian Bread Rocks

Indian Bread Rocks plants consist of Chihuahuan desert species with impossible-to-navigate and tire penetrating thorned mesquite, and 6 foot tall spiny prickly pear choking the valley floors. But up small riparian areas (mostly dry washes where water may flow during the monsoon season) we found large oak trees, ocotillo, intermittent water dependent mesquite and cat claw mimosa, sotol and many other shrubs, wildflowers, ferns and grasses. We didn’t hear many birds, but they were around, and we found an assortment of insects (grasshoppers, true bugs, beetles and wasps) flying, hopping and snacking on desert plants. 

A mesquite branch sporting those tire penetrating thorns!

One of the most common insect was the Comanche paper wasp; seen flying everywhere, with exaggeratedly long yellow hind legs hanging down as they flew.  I learned this species of wasp is common here, and colonies of 25-30 build paper nests between the rocks and in the dense vegetation. They didn’t seem aggressive but we were careful to keep The Felix well buttoned up while we explored, as we camped in a small opening surrounded by large velvet mesquite.

Comanche paper wasp warming up in the morning sun
Indian Bread Rocks scenery
Roy and Luna … a bit of a rest from hiking
Indian Bread Rocks scenery

I dare say Indian Bread Rocks was the highlight of our Escapito. It’s always fun to explore new areas. But revisiting familiar areas is also lots of fun. Our next stop, City of Rocks State Park, north of Deming, NM is one of our favorite places ……. for rocks! Can’t get enough.

Stay tuned for Part 4 of this Summer Sequel: Indian Bread Rocks, AZ to City of Rocks, NM 

Escapito #6: Summer Sequel …. A Desert SW Escape       Part 2: Luna Lake, AZ to Clifton, AZ

October 20/21, 2022

Even though we had a mere 97 miles to travel today, we knew the road would be long and winding, up and down, as we dropped over the Mogollon Rim at 8000 feet to the Northern Chihuahua desert at 4000 feet.  And yes indeed, it was a slow go, but worth the drive as we passed through the Apache-Sitgraves National Forest.  This dry forest, dominated by old growth ponderosa pine, had recently burned in many places turning visually impenetrable mountains into scenic, long distance views. As we neared the town of Morenci towards the end of our day, the country literally fell apart due to a gigantic open pit copper mine. We passed by the remains of leveled mountains reconstructed with overburden, impossibly deep terraced pits, and parades of the largest dump trucks ever, carrying freshly blasted raw materials to be processed into copper plates. Morenci is Freeport’s flagship copper mine (Freeport is part of a gigantic international mining conglomerate) and at 62,000 acres in size, there’s every indication of continued expansion. Wow.     

Rugged country north of Clifton

It took about 45 minutes to wind through the countless open pits before we actually reached the town Morenci with Clifton just 10 minutes beyond.  We had arrived; surrounded by desert, with the forest of trees behind us just a memory.

Roy and Luna showing the tire size from one of the dump trucks used at the mine

We stayed at a very nice RV park in North Clifton, being lucky to snare the last available site (all other sites were occupied by miners and their families). The park is advertised as being along the beautiful San Francisco River, which looked like rapidly flowing chocolate milk, but the canyon provided plenty of hiking opportunities …. and we spent the afternoon and following morning exploring, before journeying deeper into the desert.

San Francisco River
Date palm growing beside the San Francisco River
Velvet mesquite growing alongside the San Francisco River

Stay tuned for Part 3: Clifton, AZ to Indian Bread Rocks, Bowie, AZ

Escapito #5: Public Lands Boondocking through central New Mexico

“The Felix” was loaded and ready for a fun boondocking adventure through forest and desert, ghost towns and lava flows, rainbow colored ridges and badlands.
Central New Mexico is a splendid place to explore and discover wildlife, geology and spectacular scenery.

Come on along with us for 4 days of camping fun in the Land of Enchantment.

Continue reading “Escapito #5: Public Lands Boondocking through central New Mexico”

Grumpy G. Gus …. A Sandia Mountain Sentinel

Sandia Mountain granite! Such distinctively gnarly gargoyles, whimisically odd and judgmental, critter and caricature mimics ……. There’s nothing like these boulders! This is a short story about one of a cast of thousands; Grumpy G. Gus.

But there’s a longer story too. Underneath the often comical-looking and recognizable characters that can be envisioned in these boulders, there’s an even more fascinating tale that tells volumes about the geologic history of central New Mexico. Come along and meet Gus and learn a bit about Sandia Mountain granite.

Continue reading “Grumpy G. Gus …. A Sandia Mountain Sentinel”

Escapito #4: Reservoir Hopping thru Georgia O’Keefe Country

On the road again with “The Felix” reservoir hopping through spectacular Georgia O’Keefe country in north-central New Mexico.

Come along and see what we discovered!

Continue reading “Escapito #4: Reservoir Hopping thru Georgia O’Keefe Country”

Escapito #3: Wildlife and Geology of Catron County

“The Felix” was back in action for another camping adventure into the wilds of New Mexico.  For a few days we enjoyed spending time at one of our favorite dry campgrounds, Datil Well. Then on one day we unhooked truck from trailer and headed further afield to explore a seldom visited area of the Cibola National Forest ….. the Sawtooth Mountains.

Come along and see what we discovered!

Continue reading “Escapito #3: Wildlife and Geology of Catron County”

Escapito Mini: Perea Nature Trail, Pueblo Pintado Solar Fields and Open Pit Coal Mines

Do you ever wake up with an urge to head out for the day on an adventure? To go somewhere new ….. excited about the chance of seeing something different? It was the last day of May, and we decided to play tourist in our home state. But where? With so many areas closed to public access because of extreme fire danger, our choices were limited.

So we pulled out our book of New Mexico maps and found an entire portion of the NW badlands area we’ve never seen. And look …. the 291 mile round trip would take us over the Continental Divide too! Cool.

Continue reading “Escapito Mini: Perea Nature Trail, Pueblo Pintado Solar Fields and Open Pit Coal Mines”

Escapito #2a: Angel Peak Scenic Area

It has been a while between Escapitoes, but for good reason! We decided to sell our RV, BagoBago, and go with a pull-behind travel trailer that would get off the beaten path more easily; would be equipped with all those features for off-grid camping and exploration. After a few weeks of shopping we decided the new MicroMinnie FLX from Winnebago would fit the bill nicely. This high clearance, rugged 22 foot trailer is loaded with solar panels, lithium batteries, on-demand hot water, eco efficient heater, AC and range, etc., and is surprisingly roomy with a Murphy bed large enough for two plus our 50# dog, Luna. (Yes, Luna is very spoiled!)

Enter ”The Felix” ….. and her maiden, shake-down voyage to the Four Corners region of New Mexico.

Continue reading “Escapito #2a: Angel Peak Scenic Area”

Escapito #1 Focus Study: Pyrrhuloxia Close Encounter!


When we left North Carolina, one of the birds we enjoyed immensely but sadly left behind was the Northern Cardinal. Such a brilliantly red, active year-round resident of the East. Fast forward to New Mexico and the State Park we visited after Percha Dam is called Rockhound. Known for its geology (thunder eggs) and breathtaking scenery (Florida Mountains), we were prepared to oooh and aaahhhhh at the view while finding a few rocky gems.

Little did we know the birds would captivate us, especially the Pyrrhuloxia, a cousin to the Northern Cardinal and full fledged member of the cardinal family.

Continue reading “Escapito #1 Focus Study: Pyrrhuloxia Close Encounter!”