Sunday, March 29, 2015

Caverns to Canyons

Our base while visiting Carlsbad Caverns was the Carlsbad KOA. Like many KOA’s, this is a very nice place to stay.  The sites are large, level and spread out.  This KOA even does BBQ dinners and pizza 7 days a week.  You place your order at the office or can call it in and they will deliver it to your site.  It’s a little pricey but super convenient.  This is probably the nicest place to stay near Carlsbad, but "near" is a misnomer.  The campground is 15 miles north of Carlsbad.  The National Park is 19 miles south of Carlsbad, so from the KOA to the National Park is almost a 70 mile round trip.

After two nights, we put the Carlsbad KOA in our rear view mirror and headed north on Route 285 towards Roswell.  Carlsbad is a busy urban sprawl area.  It’s dusty and there’s not much to note about the town.  We left the unspoiled desert behind in Texas and found this area busy with mining and gas wells with some ranching sprinkled among the wells.   On our way north we passed through the nice small town of Artesia.  This town has a nice Main Street area with some beautiful bronze statues. The statues depict the towns history as a cattle drive area.   You can read about the statues at this link - Artesia Walking TourI wish we had stayed here instead of near Carlsbad.  Based on what we had and will see, it is by far the nicest town in the eastern part of New Mexico.

J. Dawg at the International UFO Museum

Roswell has done a lot to embrace it’s alien lore.  In 1947, a rancher found a couple handfuls of strange metal on his ranch.  No one could explain what it was.  The local police chief checked with the local Air Force base on what they thought it might be and from there, based on how the military handled it, the legend took off.  If the Air Force has just said "we don't have a clue what it is" it would have been end of story.  But instead they went around interviewing everyone, confiscating the material, pressuring people to recant their story, and making up an explanation about a weather balloon.  Now the little green men are seen everywhere.  I guess it worked out for Roswell as it gave them something to toot their horn about.

Oasis State Park
From Roswell, we took Route 70 up to Portales and spent the night at Oasis State Park.  A super nice state park set out in the prairie grass.  At $14 per night for a nice site with water and electric, its a great deal.  The only down side is odor from the nearby feed lots that are about 2 miles away.  It was fine during the daylight hours, but the wind shifted at night and we had to close the windows.

The area north and east of Roswell is very flat and it's more prairie and less desert like.  The land starts to be cultivated.  Near Portales, the large feed lots start.  We had planned to stay in Clovis, but I had read that the odor from the feedlots there was pretty offensive.  As we drove through the next day, we could see that Clovis is loaded with them and its a big train depot for shipping cattle.

As we crossed into Texas, the feed lots continue with Hereford advertising itself as the beef capital of the world.  It sure looked like it.  The sight of all those beef cattle (acres of them) covered in manure is almost enough to make me want to go vegan.

The flat land continues on the panhandle.  You see more cultivated land.  This is the land where the dust bowl started and dust storms are still very common on the panhandle.  I still have dust in the engine compartment of my RV from driving through a dust storm here last year.

Our destination was Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which is about 30 miles south of Amarillo.  It's the second largest canyon in the US.  We'll stay there for 3 days to savor the last scenes from the southwest before we head home.  On our way to Palo Duro Canyon, we passed through Canyon, TX to pick up our mail.  This is a nice college town.  It also has a nice western wear store and J. Dawg got himself a new Stetson.

J. Dawg with his new Stetson

1 comment:

  1. There are a lot of campgrounds around the Carlsbad area, and while the KOA is popular, there are some nicer ones near the Pecos River (not so dusty). Also, you can camp in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, as well as some of the lesser known campgrounds closer to the park. There is a comprehensive list on the Carlsbad tourist information website: