Best Camping Spots

Camping NM

I have been very lucky finding wonderful camping spots. I had the help of, which led me to Apache Creek, NM. This was a free site, with a pit toilet and luscious trees and great hikes.Apache Creek, best campsite

I spent two winters taking advantage of the New Mexico Park Pass, which for the out of state fee of $225/year  you can camp for 2 weeks at any of the NM Sate Parks. Absolutely wonderful. Some campgrounds even had libraries and hot showers for no extra fees. There were many beautiful sites. There were Mexican restaurants nearby most of the campgrounds. The facilities were great, with birding hints, trails and knowledgeable staff. If you are a budget freak, like me, it was $37.50 for each of the 6 months I was there.

City of Rocks State Park

Camping AZ

Arizona is divine in the winter for me, since I do not have any heat source. I have had 70 degree days in January. Yum. And the community of campers is strong, helpful and very friendly.

Quartzsite, AZ LTVA

Camping CO

This is a free site that I was told about at the Ranger Station. 2 weeks with birds and trees and mushrooms and hikes. Delicious.

Colorado camping

This site below was beyond expectations. On the banks of a river, hikes to lakes and hot springs. Just flat out perfect. Thanks to a chance meeting at a gas station.

Camping near Pagosa Springs

The site below was thanks to a ranger. Surrounded by a river it was a flat place with long hikes, wonderful fog in the early mornings, and very quiet. I was the only camper there for the two weeks. So peaceful. So invigorating.

Bradfield Ranch, CO

You can find the perfect spot for your next camping trip if you ask people, investigate, talk to the rangers at the National Forest stations, and make mistakes. Turn the wrong way on a road and you might end up someplace magical!

Camping UT

camping Utah

This was a Utah mistake that I loved and stayed 2 weeks. Free and wild.


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Moving While Truck Camping

Most free spots in National Forests or BLM land require that campers move every 2 weeks. You may have to move outside of the district or entirely out of the Forest or BLM land. Much depends on how close you are to a major city. It may depend on the attitude of the rangers taking care of the area. Regardless, you must be prepare to move. And at first that two weeks seems like a long time. Then it become a hassle. So be prepared.

Camping mess

This image is of an early camping spot in Utah. The clear water container was a mistake. It got mildew after 1 month. The turkey was very interested in everything. I had just started to unpack when I realized that I would be in a great deal of trouble if it rained (very deep sand). So I learned not to unpack before I figured out if I was going to stay. You can see that there is not much room to move around in the back.

The first time I camped it took 1 full day to unpack and after a two week stay it took me two days to repack.  Now, 5 years later,  it takes me 1/2 hour to pack up. And the set up in a new place takes 1/2 hour. This schedule goes to the dogs if I stay in one place for several months. Then the pack up can take a full day.

Most of the time gain has been in throwing things out. I had WAY too much stuff to start. I was packing as if I was going to drive to South America again. In the USA there is food in every gas station. There is potable water everywhere. Speaking of which I have 2 5 gallon water containers. Don’t need that much in the USA. I will be leaving one of them in Quartzsite. I have shed many unnecessary items. Most of which were packed from fear. Fear that I would run out, fear that I would be stuck, fear that I would never be able to replace item. Bah. Now the comment I get about the set up is “Oh, you are a minimalist camper.” Not really. I am lazy. I do not want to load and unload things. I want to be able to sleep in a gas station without unloading chairs and coolers and boxes of excess.

This is what the back looks like now.

The less you have the quicker it is to pack and unpack!

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Where to Camp for Cheap?

Spending a night or more

There are many different criteria for choosing a camp spot if you are living full time in your rig. Don’t forget the advantages of being old … the senior  pass will reduce your National Forest campground costs by half.

  1. If you are on your way to a specific spot and just need a night

    1. Pilot/Love gas stations. Do not take up truck spaces. Good restrooms, great showers, open all night, relatively safe.
    2. Hotel/motel parking lots. Usually very safe if you pick a high end motel.
    3. Cabelas, Walmart, Cracker Barrel,  Bass Pro Shops and all night fast food places. This is a bit less sure. Ask first. Many towns have prohibited Walmart from letting people stay over night in their parking lot. Buy from the business, then ask for permission.
  2. If you want to stay for a week or more.

    1. freecampsites  This is a great web site. Most spots are for a night or three, but some are for longer stays. They rely on us (campers) to report back. Do it!
    2. National Forest dispersed camping. Go to fed site, pick a state, choose a forest, click on recreation, then onto camping. You can pay at a regular campground in the NF, or you can do dispersed camping. For example check out NC Nantahala dispersed camping. Also, go to the field office of the National Forest and as for their MVU map. Motor Vehicle Use Map. If there are dots next to the road on the map you can camp there for 14 days.
    3. USDA Grasslands dispersed camping. Many grasslands offer dispersed camping. For example check out Cedar River Grasslands in Dakota.
    4. BLM land. Wide open spaces for free camping and some paid campgrounds. Check out their site. This camping is great if you like being outside without many other people. Apache Creek
    5. This is a free site in New Mexico, with tables and a pit toilet. Great hikes, beautiful trees and lots of history.
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Living in a Truck Camper

I live in a shell from A.R.E. There are fancy truck campers from basic to filled with electronic goodies like televisions and microwave ovens. Here is a list of truck campers for small pick ups that I checked out before deciding on the shell.

capri camper
four wheel camper
Alaskan camper

Each company has different configurations and different prices and different options. All of my life I wanted an Alaskan camper, but realized that I would really need a larger truck and more money than I wanted to spend. With the fancy truck campers there is always the maintenance for winter, finding a place to plug into, dealing with port-a-potties, and paying the fancy truck camper off. With the shell there is nothing that ever needs to be done. Love that part.

Cooking inside of the shell is doable, but with a 20 lb tank of propane I do not want to cook inside. I have been thinking about getting one of those small canisters of propane, but I would still have to deposit the big tank outside. That will not work in Walmart parking lots, Cabelas or any other parking lot. Hmm. May have to give up the 20 lb tank. I certainly don’t cook as much as I thought I would.

These are some of the decisions I fussed with before starting off. After 5 years I am more than pleased with the final decision of an A.R.E. topper. Am still using the 20 lb propane tank. And still thinking about downsizing it.

Desert Camping

Desert Camping


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Travel With Sound

Most of the time I choose to drive 2 lane roads to  the next destination. Sometimes I can’t go the slow way. If I have to go on an interstate I need to play music and podcasts.

Before I start the highway driving  I set up the traveling music and down load podcasts. I am not thrilled with highway driving (too fast, eats gas, scary big rigs, much traffic). So to ease my mind, and calm the nerves I have assembled my road trip music. The bluetooth on the truck’s radio no longer works, so I bought a little bluetooth speaker. I plop that on the dashboard, go to music on the phone and get ready to drive the interstate highways.

Music for the road

I put it on shuffle and start the engine. Helps to pass the time and the nervousness. Then, once I have listened to the mix multiple times I switch to downloaded podcasts.

The podcasts :

Recode Decode, How I Built This, Reset, Good Food, The Moth, and Call Your Girlfriend. I am hooked on Ronan Farrow’s voice, so I even listen to The Catch and Kill.

Anything to take my mind off of the nervousness of going 75 mph down a big-rig-busy highway.

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