Favorite Camping Spots

Favorite Camping Spots NM

Thanks to freecampsites.net. It led me to Apache Creek, NM. This is a free camping spot with a pit toilet,  luscious trees  and great hikes.Apache Creek, best campsite

I spent two winters taking advantage of the New Mexico Park Pass. Pay the fee and then for one year you can camp for 2 consecutive weeks at any of the NM Sate Parks. (Covid regulation 2020 only NM residents) Absolutely wonderful. Some campgrounds even had libraries and hot showers included. There were many beautiful camp sites within each park. There were Mexican restaurants, libraries and laundromats near most of the campgrounds. The facilities were great, with birding hints, hiking 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. This was a comfortable way to starting this solo road trip. It took me 2 winters to see them all.

City of Rocks State Park

Favorite Camping Spot AZ

In Arizona there can be 70 degree days in January. Yum. And the community of campers here is strong, helpful and very friendly. This area below is run by the BLM . It has pit toilets, garbage disposal and water near by. There are miles of land outside of the Long Term Visitor Areas where you can camp for free on  BLM land.

Quartzsite, AZ LTVA

Favorite Camping Spots CO

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

Colorado camping

Saw this spot below  a few years ago and knew I had to return.

Burro Bridge Bridge

Favorite Camping Spot UT

camping Utah

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

You can find the perfect free spot for your next camping trip if you ask people, investigate freecampsites.net, 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!


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Boondocking in the San Juan National Forest

Beautiful Camp Sites for a Truck

Burro Bridge Bridge

I camped here for 5 days. Many friends stopped by (Susan, Davidson, Mike, Burt, Amber and Bryce.) That was the gold. There was no gold found in this part of the West Dolores. Had a Steller’s Jay visit every morning and evening. A chipmunk, also, every morning and every evening around dusk. And there was something very big when I went outside to pee in the middle of the night. The next morning it was 29 degrees and there was no gold, so it was time to follow the river downhill.truck camping

From 9,200′ to 7,800′ warmed up the mornings to the 40’s.  Stayed here for 5 days. Then came a weather report of high Thunderstorms. So I started looking around to see what needed to be put away. Then I looked up, away from the river.

dead trees threatThree big dead trees over Lilith. I was out of that spot in 15 minutes. How did I not notice them for 5 days?

Truck Camper Hint: Look around AND UP before choosing your intended site.

So, I moved down the river a bit. Saw these folks on my evening walk. How Colorado.

West Dolores and cowboys


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Casual Gold Panning

Looking for free places to  pan for gold

The book I have  is Kevin Singel’s Finding Gold in Colorado. It is supremely helpful in finding places to hunt for gold for free in Colorado. Great hints, very specific. I have gone to several spots and the directions and descriptions are right on.

You can also pan in National Forests and BLM.

Rules for National Forests

I found that most National Forests allow panning. Pan and shovel seems to be tools that are permitted in the most areas. (Some people have lots of machinery: metal detectors, sluicers, dredges, high bankers, trommels and machinery to run them. Depends on the individual area within the NF as to what is allowed. ) Most wilderness areas do not permit panning or detecting.

Rules for BLM

“There is no requirement for notifying the BLM of casual use activities. Casual use activities are those that cause only negligible disturbance of public lands and resources. For example, activities that do not involve the use of earthmoving equipment or explosives may be considered casual use.”

Good Manners

  • fill in any holes you make
  • no digging on the banks of the waterways
  • pick up all trash
  • pay attention to land boundaries
  • utmost respect for private property

There are mining claims and private property on both BLM and NFS lands. These boundaries  are often hard to discern. Often there are no  boundary markers.  GPS is good to 15 feet, so even that is not exact. I use mylandmatters  and/or thediggings to see if there is an active claim anywhere near. And use Google Earth.  NFS MVU (motor vehicle use ) maps show private land, but finding the exact boundary is sometimes problematic. You can get 3 free Avenza maps on your phone/ipad/computer. Those are better than the folding/paper MVU maps.

Panning for gold/ metal detecting for gold is free, rewarding and entertaining. You will learn lots about government rules, mining claims, and geology. And maybe get gold!

panning for gold



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Holiday Dispersed Camping

It is very difficult to find an empty dispersed spot during a holiday. I tried to camp in a spot near to the claim, but it was jammed packed with big rigs. There was not a spot within 30 miles. Aggh. It was the start of the muzzle loader and bow hunting season. It was a few days before Labor Day weekend. So I headed up the West Dolores, remembering a few spots.
Found delight.

Camping on the West Dolores

Really loving this easy to put up tarp, even if the fancy clips i “glued” to the topper fell off within 10 seconds. I just used bungee cords.

Back of truck with tarp

It does add a bit of curiosity for the passerbys. They have a tendency to walk by stooped, to peek under the tarp. Tarp held up to squirrels throwing immature pine cones down and waving sticky branches.

Fishing the W Dolores

I lay in the hammock and watched this fella catch a nice sized trout. He was beyond thrilled. It was his third day without catching anything.

Floating the West Dolores

Bunches of screaming children would come up and down to tube the river. Their laughs and screams  and shouts and banter were invigorating and joyful. Their parents would walk by and apologize if the kids were bothering me.

Before anyone was up or after they went to dinner I would take my pan and go down to the river and pan. I found gold. My first. West Dolores gold

I cannot tell you how thrilled I still am.

The truck was perfect for this spot. Unless you has a 4wd there was no way for you to leave the camp spot. It was very steep and rocky.

The truck camper hint: Look for a spot that needs your 4wd. You will find a great spot, even on a holiday!

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So Glad I Did

Truck camper choices that still please after 5 years

1. Tailgate

plywood tailgate

This crummy piece of plywood is still loved and cherished. No spilling coffee in the ribs of the tailgate. No twisting of kneecaps, crawling into the back. Easy/inexpensive to replace.

2. Topper Back Curtain

The topper back curtain

How the back curtain attaches

This “velcroed” cloth is perfect. It keep the great majority of flies and mosquitos and hummingbirds out of the back of the truck. And curious people gazes. Easy to take down for driving, easy to put up. It folds down to a small size. It is getting a bit ratty. One day I will find a seamstress with a heavy duty machine to put a new one together.

Under-the-Bed Curtains

Curtains instead of drawers

Couldn’t be happier with the decision to have curtains instead of drawers. Initially it was to save weight. Now its for the convenience. So easy to flip that curtain up to see under the bed and/or the shelf.  And looks so neat with so little effort.  Also still pleased with the  runner rugs. I buy 2 new ones every other year,  and cut them to fit. Easy to clean.


Coffee choices for living in a truck camper

The taste of the Vietnamese phin was the best, but cleaning it out after every use was a pain in the water supply. And the patience of the cook.

The drip was tasty. Super easy cleaning. I had used this for years.  This was in the running. The downside to the drip is the awkward size and shape to pack.

The french press was  a cleaning problem, and it didn’t do as well as the others in making small amounts of coffee. The glass was a bad idea, but there are stainless steel ones.

The Aero Press was  the winner. The coffee is very good, there is a metal screen for the filter and the cleaning is a snap. The slight down side of the Aero is that it isn’t as tiny as the phin. After 5 years its still true. Still love it. This is a truck camper’s excellent choice. (Even if I dislike having single use items.)

Shudda, Cudda, Wudda …

Coat all plywood
Put it together with screws, not nails
Smaller cook set up (what was I thinking?)
Fewer tools (what was I thinking?)
Packed fewer _______ (what was I thinking?)
Turned the sliding window around … tried, but can’t quite figure it out. Maybe one day.






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