5 Lessons Learned from Camping in Taos, NM
Taos, New Mexico
Our first night of camping in our new Geo Pro was kind of a doozy (yep, used that word).
The secluded terrain and views were spectacular, but the overall experience was, well... We made lots of "newbie" mistakes. Maybe not mistakes - lessons. We'll share those with you, the 5 Lessons Learned from Camping in Taos, NM.
We started the day early; brewed some coffee, packed the truck, and hit the road. We had a four-hour drive into Colorado, a few hours at the RV dealer, lunch, then the drive towards Taos, NM. Our two-hour drive to Taos turned into a four-hour experience. Looking back, we should have done some more research on state parks and COVID restrictions before we ventured off.
The sun was setting quicker than expected and hunger was setting in - it was either find a place to boondock soon or make a three-hour drive home and camp in the driveway.
We found it.
36.401184, -105.723307 (plus or minus a good place to park for newbies)
And this is where we learn some valuable lessons. The 5 Lessons Learned from Camping in Taos, NM.
Lesson #1 - Scout the terrain ahead of time
There was a golden rule given from a long-time RVer "Don't drive anywhere without first knowing how to drive out."
In retrospect, good thought.
Driving to this remote location, we were on a paved two-lane road. It was an abrupt turn and we turned left, into the New Mexico desert. We were off-roading, with our brand new trailer. The trial was equivalent to a black diamond for driving and towing a trailer; rough trails with a lot of desert bushes.
After a great first night, we packed up the trailer early to head home in an effort not to miss Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season!
What was a good parking spot turned out not to be the best position to exit. The way we were positioned forced us to exit the trail in a completely new direction that ended up being more demanding on the truck and trailer than expected (double black diamond). We had no idea when the trail would end or if we'd get out safely.
What felt like an hour later, we made it and have the wounds (on the truck and trailer) to prove it.
Had we walked even part of the trail before we made that first turn off the paved two-lane road, we would have chose a different route!
With all of that said, the location was epic and highly recommended for semi-experienced campers.
(funny side story - we got home and noticed the brand new swing bar was missing from our hitch! Determined not to spend another dollar on the camper for the first week, Matt drove the three hours back to Taos, walked two miles into the desert like he was in Breaking Bad in hopes to find the swing bar. He found it! Chalk that weekend up to a success!)
Lesson #2 - Camping is no place for an ego
Fast forward two weeks where we camp in Rociada, NM. We quickly realized you can have an amazing, outdoor experience with easy access, parking, and a relaxing experience.
Our ego got the best of us during week one. The thought of trying something new, challenging, and going 'big' brought a lot of excitement. We wanted to dry camp (or boondock) in Taos, NM. Our trailer had a half tank of fresh water and solar on the roof. Fortunately it was only one night because we had no knowledge of how long water or the solar energy would last.
We're not saying we wouldn't go off-roading again for a priceless view, but we wouldn't get our ego get in the way of understanding what we were getting into first.
Lesson #3 - Pack for all sorts of weather
One big takeaway from most of the videos we've seen about camping was "keep it simple," but really, when it comes to weather at the tail end of camping season, you have to pack for just about everything.
The southwest weather is interesting; no storms, little rain, no humidity, but wow - the temperature can change quickly!
We knew it would be fairly cold at night and in the morning, but we did not pack for how cold it would actually get. Cold weather in a thin-walled trailer compared to the luxury of your home are two completely different things. If you enjoy only a few hours of interrupted sleep, this was the night for you!
The key is layers.
Lesson #4 - Plan ahead
I can't stress this enough, especially for those new to camping. Don't assume you can just find a place to camp along the way. To be honest, all the Youtube campers make it seem like you can essentially just pull off on any road and park it for the night (I'm exaggerating since obviously it has to be BLM/camping land but still - they make it seem so easy). We were so confused about where we could or couldn't legally stay for the night. Some of you may laugh at this, but we talked about our worry of getting a knock on the camper door at 3:00 a.m. from a state trooper telling us to hitch up and leave. We were looking at all my camping apps and trying to find a place to stay.
Some apps were helpful and others were not, but we found the most success with Campendium!
Lesson #5 - Bring checklists
Do your research prior to starting your adventures. Create or download checklists for setting up and taking down camp. Double check your list and triple check your work. Locking doors, closing windows, packing away loose items, etc. could result in costly repairs if you don't ensure they're completed before leaving camp.
Whether you're new to camping or have a long history of being on the road, checklists are essential. Camping and trailers have a lot of small, tedious tasks that can easily be forgotten.
Taos, NM is absolutely gorgeous; complete with blue skies and scenic views. This was the perfect first camping experience with our Geo Pro and we wouldn't have traded this experience for the world. The only thing we would have done differently is plan better with the 5 Lessons Learned from Camping in Taos, NM. By the way, having coffee overlooking the gorge was one of the best experiences we've had.