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Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad

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Offline Sousaclone

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Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« on: November 16, 2018, 01:48:39 PM »
I'm finalizing plans for my trip out to GUMO & Carlsbad over Thanksgiving and I'm trying to finalize my plans (I've read a bunch on here but was hoping to get some final advice/recommendations). Current plan is to get to Pine Springs on Wednesday, spend Wednesday-Saturday morning in GUMO, break camp saturday morning to hit Carlsbad, improvise for Saturday afternoon (back to GUMO, Lincoln NF, ??) then head back to Houston on Sunday.

1) I should be getting to Pine Springs campground around noon on Wednesday. Any opinions/thoughts if I'm going to be hard up to get a tent campground spot?

2) Currently planning on doing Devils's Hall Wednesday afternoon, Guadalupe Peak on Thursday, and then I'm debating my Friday hike(s). I'm thinking either the Bowl loop on Friday or going up to McKittrick Trail on Friday. This seem reasonable? (Not a complete novice to hiking but also not someone who's going to go thru hike the Appalachian Trail).

3) Any recommendations on what to do after Carlsbad on Saturday if I have time (I'm probably just going to do the natural entrance and the big room)? Debating going back to GUMO for a small hike, driving up and around to Sitting Bull Falls, or maybe something else. Going to spend Saturday night in Van Horn (probably), and hit the road early on Sunday to get back to Houston at a decent hour.

Thanks

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2018, 08:53:42 PM »
Sounds like a great trip. If the Wednesday you were arriving wasnt the day before Thanksgiving, I'd say you'd be totally fine getting a site. I'm not sure how the holiday will play into it. That campground fills up faster than it used to. I'd say the earlier you can get there the better.

All of your hiking plans sound reasonable. I personally really enjoy the Bowl loop. But you obviously cant go wrong with Mckittrick Canyon. If you do want to fit in another quick easy hike, smith spring is nice.

And if it was my trip, I'd take my time in and around the caverns and make a day of it.

Hope all goes well and hope to see a trip report.

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2018, 01:59:30 PM »
When you arrive at the park around noon on Wednesday, go directly to the tent campground and grab a site, rather than stopping at the headquarters/visitor's center.  This will optimize your chances of getting a site, or having your choice of sites.

I think it's a fairly long drive from the Caverns to Sitting Bull Falls.  Maybe you could find something else to do that wouldn't eat up so much time driving.  The days are shorter now, so sundown comes early.
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2018, 02:20:42 PM »
I've done that basic itinerary four times (once alone, twice with just kids, once with the entire family), though not at Thanksgiving. I'm thinking the whole region will be a zoo at Thanksgiving. Doesn't mean you can't have a good time, but you will have to contend with crowds. Definitely agree with Backpacker56, when you arrive at GUMO, go straight to the tent campground and see if there are any sites. If there are, grab the best you can find, mark it with gear, and then go get your permit. If there is nothing available, then you have a challenge on your hands. Closest camping is probably either GUMO's Dog Canyon Campground or somewhere in the Lincoln National Forest (a looooooong drive either way) and if you wind up camping there, then your hiking options are really going to be confined to that northern end of GUMO. Not bad, necessarily, but you'll probably have to forego Devil's Den and Guadalupe Peak which are both at the other end of the park. Good news is that from that end you can still hike The Bowl, as well as reach Bush and Hunter Peaks which are awesome, and even reach McKittrick Canyon from the west, but from the top down (which is actually a great hike).  Another option to look into is staying at one of the motel rooms in White's City, near the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns NP. It's a much shorter drive back to GUMO than from Carlsbad, and a VERY quick drive into CCNP. The rooms there are much, much, much cheaper than in Carlsbad, which has been completely taken over by petrochemical workers. Their demand has driven Carlsbad prices through the roof ($250-450/night). Sadly, though, by this late date ALL local motels may be booked up. If so, then Lincoln National Forest, or the more remote and less-popular Dog Canyon campground or GUMO backcountry sites up top may be your best bet. If you're out that far, then Sitting Bull Falls might be a reasonable drive, but be advised that if the weather's nice (I haven't looked at the forecast) the place could be full of picnickers. It's a nice place, but I wouldn't consider it essential unless you really, really, really love waterfalls of all kinds. Hopefully your schedule will permit a visit to the caverns. The natural entrance and the Big Room are world wonders. Don't miss them if you can.  Good luck!!!!!!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2018, 02:31:30 PM by House Made of Dawn »
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Offline presidio

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2018, 04:41:02 PM »
I think it's a fairly long drive from the Caverns to Sitting Bull Falls.

It's a 49 mile drive from the park visitor center to Sitting Bull Falls, if you take the Dark Canyon Rd (County 408) to NM 137. CR 408 intersects US 62/180 9.6 mi north of White City. If you get to the Carlsbad airport, you missed the turn.

There is no camping at Sitting Bull Falls (day use only and they close the gate), but you otherwise can camp anywhere you want in the forest; it's all open for dispersed camping (the freedom of non-NPS management).

Definitely agree with Backpacker56, when you arrive at GUMO, go straight to the tent campground and see if there are any sites. If there are, grab the best you can find, mark it with gear, and then go get your permit. If there is nothing available, then you have a challenge on your hands. Closest camping is probably either GUMO's Dog Canyon Campground or somewhere in the Lincoln National Forest (a looooooong drive either way)

There's a better, if less fantasyland, solution courtesy of the BLM public lands once you cross into NM. Go a couple miles north of the state line (basically, climb the first obvious hill on the highway (crossing the Yeso Hills). For the next several miles pick any two-track road on the east side of the highway, drive in a half mile or so (to get out of sight of the hwy) and find a suitable spot. It's free and no one will bother you in either a social or regulatory manner (more of that non-NPS management...you might find it addicting and liberating).
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Offline Sousaclone

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2018, 04:47:46 PM »
Thanks everyone.

If worse comes to worse with camping, I'll do Dog Canyon, Lincoln NF (I guess get recommendations from the ranger district in Carlsbad), or if worse comes to worse, I'll drive back down to Van Horn and get a hotel there.

Thanks for the recommendations and advice. Still trying to make sense of and understand BLM, NF, NPS, etc rules. My little bit of camping experience was in state parks in the Northeast which are all reservation systems so the idea of being able to just pull off the side of the road somewhat is a new one to me.

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Offline presidio

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2018, 07:36:00 PM »
Still trying to make sense of and understand BLM, NF, NPS, etc rules. My little bit of camping experience was in state parks in the Northeast which are all reservation systems so the idea of being able to just pull off the side of the road somewhat is a new one to me.

The rules for dispersed camping on USFS & BLM land are very simple:

a) Behave responsibly
b) Be self-sufficient; no other agency will hold your hand the way the NPS does
c) Respect the land; respect other users (including permittees...unlike parks there are other folks using the land, but you likely never will see them)
d) Leave no trace (other than your tire tracks) (you can drive off two-tracks up to 300' to camp, but camping is easiest within 50' or so of the route)
e) Leave all gates as you find them (if open, leave open; if closed, reclose after passing through...they are the way you find them for a reason, which won't be apparent to you)
f) Know how to recognize lechuguilla before you find out the hard way (and why driving cross-country/off road is a bad idea as lech eats tires...camping close to a route solves that)

Hundreds of thousands of public lands users do the above all the time and they have no problems. It's your land and you get to use it. Public lands are the real jewel of the west.

Public lands do require using the common sense commonly absent in parks. Your reward is a richer experience, free from the omnipresent eye of the NPS and their fees.

On the other hand, NPS areas are pretty much like what you describe in the Northeast; reservations, permits, capacity limits, lots of niggling rules, fees, someone telling you where you can and cannot go.

Take your pick.
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Offline Jonathan Sadow

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2018, 01:57:55 PM »
Definitely agree with Backpacker56, when you arrive at GUMO, go straight to the tent campground and see if there are any sites. If there are, grab the best you can find, mark it with gear, and then go get your permit. If there is nothing available, then you have a challenge on your hands. Closest camping is probably either GUMO's Dog Canyon Campground or somewhere in the Lincoln National Forest (a looooooong drive either way)

There's a better, if less fantasyland, solution courtesy of the BLM public lands once you cross into NM. Go a couple miles north of the state line (basically, climb the first obvious hill on the highway (crossing the Yeso Hills). For the next several miles pick any two-track road on the east side of the highway, drive in a half mile or so (to get out of sight of the hwy) and find a suitable spot. It's free and no one will bother you in either a social or regulatory manner (more of that non-NPS management...you might find it addicting and liberating).

Unfortunately, that's not an option for the time being.  Due to a few incidents in which campers drove way down the roads you described and trespassed on private land, the BLM has temporarily suspended camping privileges on this land until fencing and signage can be put up clearly delineating BLM and private land.  I'm told that the BLM hopes to accomplish this and re-open the land for camping sometime in early 2019.

Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2018, 03:47:39 PM »
Definitely agree with Backpacker56, when you arrive at GUMO, go straight to the tent campground and see if there are any sites. If there are, grab the best you can find, mark it with gear, and then go get your permit. If there is nothing available, then you have a challenge on your hands. Closest camping is probably either GUMO's Dog Canyon Campground or somewhere in the Lincoln National Forest (a looooooong drive either way)

There's a better, if less fantasyland, solution courtesy of the BLM public lands once you cross into NM. Go a couple miles north of the state line (basically, climb the first obvious hill on the highway (crossing the Yeso Hills). For the next several miles pick any two-track road on the east side of the highway, drive in a half mile or so (to get out of sight of the hwy) and find a suitable spot. It's free and no one will bother you in either a social or regulatory manner (more of that non-NPS management...you might find it addicting and liberating).

Unfortunately, that's not an option for the time being.  Due to a few incidents in which campers drove way down the roads you described and trespassed on private land, the BLM has temporarily suspended camping privileges on this land until fencing and signage can be put up clearly delineating BLM and private land.  I'm told that the BLM hopes to accomplish this and re-open the land for camping sometime in early 2019.

Oh hell, I did not know this!

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Offline presidio

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2018, 08:06:05 PM »
Unfortunately, that's not an option for the time being.  Due to a few incidents in which campers drove way down the roads you described and trespassed on private land, the BLM has temporarily suspended camping privileges on this land until fencing and signage can be put up clearly delineating BLM and private land.  I'm told that the BLM hopes to accomplish this and re-open the land for camping sometime in early 2019.

What is your source for this info? I find this extremely hard to believe, because:

a) there is no closure order or notice of such a restriction on the BLM website.
b) the area I suggest is virtually devoid of private land (see the map below)



For those unfamiliar with public lands, this map slice is representative of the 'land status' maps BLM produces in each western state.

Each square is nominally a square mile (640 acres)

The legend is:

Yellow = BLM public land
Green = USFS (none on this slice but exists just off the left edge)
Blue = State trust lands ('public' but not in the same context as federal public land as NM does not permit camping on state lands...these lands are one of the revenue generators for public schools)
Purple = NPS
White = Private

Some things of note about this particular map:

The area I suggest for dispersed camping are those lands on the east side of US 62/180, from the dogleg 2 road miles from the state line up to the area labeled 'Chosa Draw Area of Critical Environmental Concern.' As can be seen, the majority of land on that side of the highway is federal and the various two-track roads depicted each cross several miles of public land. The blue state lands can be traversed, you just cannot camp on them. The Chosa Draw area at the top also can be camped in (it is immediately east of the road to the NPS Rattlesnake Springs area.

The 'Black River Recreation Area' on the west side of the hwy also is BLM, however it is a day use area only...so no camping there.

So, from the hwy dogleg up to the Chosa area, there are roughly 20 square miles of BLM land, within 2 to 4 miles of the hwy, where you may camp as you desire.

You can read more about camping on BLM land in NM here:
https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/recreation-activities/new-mexico

That page also includes a note about permit requirements for NM state trust lands.
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2018, 11:14:56 PM »
Last november i snapped a photo of the instructions GUMO gave for overflow camping and they pointed to BLM site past the 5 mile marker on 62-180. My friend stayed there later, and here's the point:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/3206'18.2%22N+10425'33.0%22W/@32.105047,-104.4280107,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d32.105047!4d-104.425822?hl=en-US

I drove past it last Monday and didn't see anything indicated it being "closed" or anything but I wasn't paying that much attention.

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Offline presidio

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2018, 12:09:12 AM »
Last november i snapped a photo of the instructions GUMO gave for overflow camping and they pointed to BLM site past the 5 mile marker on 62-180. My friend stayed there later, and here's the point:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/3206'18.2%22N+10425'33.0%22W/@32.105047,-104.4280107,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d32.105047!4d-104.425822?hl=en-US

I drove past it last Monday and didn't see anything indicated it being "closed" or anything but I wasn't paying that much attention.

While the public land in that area is fairly well blocked up, BLM lands do not have the tidy boundaries with limited access points and controlled entries like the NPS. While it's not impossible to close lands to use, it is extraordinarily rare for BLM to do such a thing. Widespread closures typically occur for fire danger, but normally merely is a prohibition on campfires, not a restriction on using or being on the land itself. There have been limited instances of extreme fire danger where the land is closed to entry (more often seen on USFS turf...this occurred in northern NM several months ago for a few weeks before the monsoon rains began).

More importantly, unlike the NPS that closes access willy-nilly and sometimes seemingly on a whim, BLM must publicize and publish closures. That means publishing the order in the Federal Register and posting the order in places where the public can reasonably be expected to see them. Thus, if such a camping closure existed (and I seriously doubt it does), the notice would be posted on roads and gates adjacent to the highway and would be obvious.

I still would like to know the source of the alleged camping closure in that area.

That does not mean some yahoo didn't just go put up some sign for their own benefit, but the agency would remove such unauthorized signing as soon as they became aware of it (and have a corrective chat with the responsible party).
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Jonathan Sadow

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Re: Thanksgiving trip to GUMO & Carlsbad
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2019, 07:18:25 PM »
It's been a while since I logged onto here, so forgive me for my tardy response:

Unfortunately, that's not an option for the time being.  Due to a few incidents in which campers drove way down the roads you described and trespassed on private land, the BLM has temporarily suspended camping privileges on this land until fencing and signage can be put up clearly delineating BLM and private land.  I'm told that the BLM hopes to accomplish this and re-open the land for camping sometime in early 2019.

What is your source for this info?

The source for this info was written communication from the BLM Carlsbad office to the Superintendent of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, thence distributed to all staff and volunteers for the park.  Visitor Center personnel were informed of this change, and the materials which had been previously available showing camping possibilities on BLM land administered by the Carlsbad office were removed (including the notice photographed by austin gorpchomper).

Quote
I find this extremely hard to believe, because:

a) there is no closure order or notice of such a restriction on the BLM website.
b) the area I suggest is virtually devoid of private land (see the map below)



For those unfamiliar with public lands, this map slice is representative of the 'land status' maps BLM produces in each western state.

Each square is nominally a square mile (640 acres)

The legend is:

Yellow = BLM public land
Green = USFS (none on this slice but exists just off the left edge)
Blue = State trust lands ('public' but not in the same context as federal public land as NM does not permit camping on state lands...these lands are one of the revenue generators for public schools)
Purple = NPS
White = Private

I was told that people had gone down roads substantially off the excerpt of the map you provided.  Please also note that road access across private land is not guaranteed unless the road is a designated federal, state, county, or BLM road.  Therefore, merely crossing private land from one segment of BLM land to another is trespassing unless the road has been designated as previously mentioned, or the landowner has granted an access easement. 

I'm sorry you're having trouble believing that this is the case, but I post these items so as to inform readers of this forum and not just to give myself something to do.  If you want to make a federal case out of this action, be my guest, but I simply am informing you of what park personnel were told.  Inasmuch as this action was taken over a month-and-a-half ago, it may or may not have been resolved by now;  anyone interested in the status of BLM land for camping should contact the Carlsbad office for information (although given the present partial government shutdown, there may not be anyone available to provide this information presently).

 


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