We had heard many good things about Taos, NM so we decided to add it as a detour along our trip. While cutting west along I-40 through NM, we turned north up through Santa Fe and grabbed dinner, then wanted to grab a camping spot. I really wanted to camp under the NM stars. :)
When we stopped for dinner, we asked our waitress if she knew of any camping spots and she brought out a phone book for us so we could call some of the local camping locations... took me a second to figure out the area code for Santa Fe as everything here used 7-digit dialing still. All the ones I called up aren't open until March. It's currently late February. She then pointed us to a local dog park with trails she hikes in and drew us up a map to go camp back there. Apparently no one will go back there to check on us at night. ;) I took a slightly different route to get there and we couldn't find the place, so we decided to head out of Santa Fe and up north to Taos to find a place to sleep instead. I didn't really want to quite go all the way to Taos, because the drive was supposed to be gorgeous and I didn't want to do it at night.
So we drove part of the way up and stopped at an auto store to get some deicing fluid for my windshield. Cleaning fluid definitely helps, but deicing fluid would help even more. Speaking of which, my car is so dirty now. Actually most cars are around here. Driving through the snow, shooting slush up the windshield of your own car from your own front tires (pretty cool to see that), dust and dirt from the desert sand flying around, big trucks kicking dust and dirt back behind them, and so on... most all the cars here are brownish and dirty. My car's DEFINITELY gonna need a car was when I get to Colorado...
Anyways, we asked a guy at the auto store about a local park and he knew of one across the bridge nearby, but my intuition said to keep driving towards Taos so that's exactly what we did, even though I had no idea where we'd wind up and didn't find any camping spots marked on our atlas. However, at this point I've pretty much gotten to the point where when my intuition/joy/excitement points me in a certain direction, I follow it and go without needing another reason.
There's a loop you can do between Santa Fe and Taos. We figured that since we'd want to log a ton of miles the next day, it would be okay to drive all the way up to Taos this evening and drive back down either one of the sides of the loop on the way back and keep heading west towards the Grand Canyon.
Anyways, we started heading up one of the roads of the loop (68, to be exact), and found a number of little scenic pullouts. One of which really caught my eye so quickly pulled over into the pullout. It was pretty big and I had no idea what was around us... were we isolated? Right next to some stores? I walked back and saw a little trail heading down (you can see it in the bottom of the pic) and considered driving down it so that my car would be out of the visible pullout. I wasn't sure if we were allowed to camp there, but there weren't any no camping sites, so we decided to go for it. I left my car at the top because it looked like you'd need a 4-wheel-drive to climb back out and I didn't want to risk getting stuck down there, especially with my humble little Camry fully loaded with the stuff I'm moving with.
Alright, let's carry the tent and sleeping backs down the little hill and set up near the river that was flowing nearby! We heard cars from the road driving by periodically, the sounds of the river, and occasionally some animals around. To be honest, I wasn't exactly sure what some of the hoots and chirps I heard were...
It was predicted that we'd hit 17 degrees that night and that it did! It was pretty cold that night, particularly towards the dawn. It always seems to be coldest right before sunrise... Fortunately we had dropped down to about 5,800 feet from 7,000 feet in Santa Fe so it was warmer than it otherwise would have been.