Way up there in northern New Mexico, in the little town of Aztec, is one of the best national monuments for learning about the Ancestral Puebloans that populated much of the Colorado Plateau and surrounding lands. I was going through Aztec on my way from Bluff, Utah to Durango, CO, so I stopped to check it out.
I’ve not done a lot of cold-weather boondocking or dry camping, so six nights of winter camping in New Mexico was definitely an experiment for me. If you’re not a battery freak or a camper or survivalist, this post might not be your cup of tea, though!
One of my favorite places to stay in New Mexico is the City of Rocks campground, between Silver City and Deming. It’s definitely in the middle of nowhere, and that’s perfect for me. Adding to my stay this time was scoring the best site in the park, site 15 (Cassiopeia) in the small north (Pegasus) loop. By now, you might have figured out this park is obsessed with the night sky. Every campsite is named after a constellation, which is pretty fun. And there is a Solar System walk, which shows the relative distances between our Sun and the planets…
It’s impossible to get from Southern California to New Mexico, where I’m spending most of the winter, without passing through Arizona. Here’s some of my favorite photos from that transit, which was mostly through the Sonoran Desert. (And maybe seeing desert photos will make y’all in cold, snowy climes feel a bit warmer today.) About this image: Just outside the Sonoran desert area, is Mount Graham, near Safford. That mountain is the snow-capped peak in the background, on the right side of this image. I loved the tree and sky so that’s what I focused on.
On my way through New Mexico, I made a slight detour to check out Pecos National Historical Park, east of Santa Fe. Before my travels last year, I didn’t know that much about the people who lived in the southwest before white people and their wagon trains invaded, so 2021 was me learning who was here “first” and how they lived. From Ancestral Puebloans to the Civil War to a famous movie star, Pecos has an amazing history so let’s do some exploring.