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mack_turtle

road trip ideas to escape the Texas heat

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We are thinking about taking a COVID-inspired road trip north the last weekend of August. I know it's hot everywhere, but how far do we need to go in any direction to a place we can tent camp without melting? We are interested in heading north-east toward the Ozark Mountains. An eight-hour drive would get us to Broken Bow, OK at least. We were hoping to be as self-sufficient as possible and just stay outdoors, but if it's hot AF up there the whole time, we might have to wait.

carrying our gear means no room for bikes in our little car, but if we make it someplace that has good trails like Bentonville, we'll rent bikes for a day to check it out.

(We had big plans for a "normal" vacation before COVID but that will have to wait for next year, or the year after that, or...)

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Ruidoso has biking, mountains, cooler air and is a good place to get away in a day's drive. Arkansas will still be hot AF in August. 

If you can put a hitch on your car, you can borrow my carrier. 

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Posted (edited)

I had a hitch and a Thule rack for years and used it so rarely that I sold both. I don't want the drag and the risk of the bikes getting stolen anyways. might figure out a way to carry the bikes inside the car, but it's a tight fit with camping gear. we also might bring the dog, and a 10-pound dachshund is not much of a trail dog.

 

gonna check out Ruidoso though. wife doesn't care for desert, but if it's forested, she'll dig it.

Edited by mack_turtle
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Posted (edited)

Ruidoso is a complete anomaly in the middle of the high desert. Everything around it is awful and then all the sudden its scenic. 

Good hiking too if you can't ride.

Understand about the rack. Wife's hybrid lost almost 30mpg on the way to Arizona because of it 🤣

Edited by ATXZJ

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I'm going to 2nd NM. Going higher in altitude will get you to cooler temps quicker. Ruidoso is your closest best bet. Check and see what's open though obviously.

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Posted (edited)

I third the suggestion. Cloudcroft is close by and may offer more seclusion/higher altitudes, although the riding is only mediocre from what I am aware of. Taking the drive down to Alamagordo is kind of cool. Drops over 4000' in like 20 miles. Some cool terrain along the way.

I have only been to the area a handful of times and mostly about 20 years ago so will defer to others if Cloudcroft is worth a visit over Ruidoso. I think ATXZJ used to live in the vicinity?

And definitely check forest conditions, the first time we were there they pretty much shut it down due to fire danger right after we left.

Edited by GFisher
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Posted (edited)

I'm into the NM idea. wife does not want to drive sit in the car while I drive that far and I don't think she appreciates the surrounding desert as I do. I keep telling her that anything close to sea level is going to be hawt as ballz but she's not having it. this should be interesting.

We talked about going to Big Bend last year and never went. I wonder if any of that has a climate that would be bearable at that time of year.

Edited by mack_turtle
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2 hours ago, GFisher said:

I third the suggestion. Cloudcroft is close by and may offer more seclusion/higher altitudes, although the riding is only mediocre from what I am aware of. Taking the drive down to Alamagordo is kind of cool. Drops over 4000' in like 20 miles. Some cool terrain along the way.

I have only been to the area a handful of times and mostly about 20 years ago so will defer to others if Cloudcroft is worth a visit over Ruidoso. I think ATXZJ used to live in the vicinity?

And definitely check forest conditions, the first time we were there they pretty much shut it down due to fire danger right after we left.

Lived in ABQ for 18 months but traveled all over the state for biking and sight seeing, and generally just to escape the city we lived in. Cloudcroft is an anomaly like Ruidoso as well. Middle of nowhere and then all the sudden your in a national forest. Surprisingly, theres lots of cool stuff to see in NM if you know where to look. Living there is a whole other ball of wax though.

IMHO, I'd rather swim and fish in a mountain river/lake any day over the muck in the southern states. Ruidoso has some decent water.

31 minutes ago, mack_turtle said:

I'm into the NM idea. wife does not want to drive sit in the car while I drive that far and I don't think she appreciates the surrounding desert as I do. I keep telling her that anything close to sea level is going to be hawt as ballz but she's not having it. this should be interesting.

We talked about going to Big Bend last year and never went. I wonder if any of that has a climate that would be bearable at that time of year.

To each their own for sure. My wife is from AZ and I spent my childhood in the mojave desert. We then ended up living various deserts at different points in our lives. We still miss the smell of rain on the open expanses but pretty much over living in the desert now. Next step is coastal.  IMHO, everything but desert high altitude is gonna be miserable this time of year.

Big bend is great but youre gonna feel the heat down in the valley and a lot of it. Chisos basin is bad ass though and overall the parks are really cool. Took 25 yrs for us to get back there and have to say we were impressed. Its similar to NM in that once you start climbing up the mountain the landscape drastically changes. Lots of pines and there are actually aspen tress up there. Thats the southernmost growth in the US. Best times IMHO are OCT-FEB.

Also like NM, the drive to BBNP is a whole lotta nothing. You can turn right or left at ft stockton but youre still driving to fucking ft stockton😁

 

 

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Big Bend is about the same distance as NM. Ft Davis will be a little cooler and only about 6.5 hrs, but nothing too spectacular, especially since the Observatory is closed. We were actually there the first week of March when the COVID stuff was just getting started. It was cold AF during the Star Party and there were a couple hundred of us (from who knows all where) packed in there. 

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1 hour ago, mack_turtle said:

I'm into the NM idea. wife does not want to drive sit in the car while I drive that far and I don't think she appreciates the surrounding desert as I do. I keep telling her that anything close to sea level is going to be hawt as ballz but she's not having it. this should be interesting.

We talked about going to Big Bend last year and never went. I wonder if any of that has a climate that would be bearable at that time of year.

This is such a simple solution.

Road trip - day one is go to somewhere near sea level. You tell her you have a reservation for a week. Then, 3 hours into the first day you say "you know, I only booked for a day not a week, looks like I screwed up. Should I add 6 more days or do you want to point the car north tomorrow morning."

Don't blame me if it doesn't work. I'm locked down here for a few more months.

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1 hour ago, AustinBike said:

This is such a simple solution.

Road trip - day one is go to somewhere near sea level. You tell her you have a reservation for a week. Then, 3 hours into the first day you say "you know, I only booked for a day not a week, looks like I screwed up. Should I add 6 more days or do you want to point the car north tomorrow morning."

Don't blame me if it doesn't work. I'm locked down here for a few more months.

Fixed It

This is such a simple solution.

Road trip - day one is go to somewhere near sea level. You tell her you have a reservation for a week. Then, before you leave have a buddy call you pretending to be the resort to say the resort had to close due to 'Rona. Tell you are so sad she couldnt get her way, even make yourself get a little teary eyed. Then goto New Mexico. 

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As a bonus, you get to cut through roswell and see the......

 

 

alens.jpg

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Roswell does sound for for alien stuff. However, I don't want to go anywhere that I can't enjoy because of COVID.

Seriously considering just spacing out in the desert in Marfa for a few days. It will be hot, and that's fine so long as there's someplace with an atmosphere where we can get some sleep.

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It'll be dry and hot. Which is better than humid and hot. So you got that going for you. Which is nice.

18 hours ago, ATXZJ said:

We still miss the smell of rain on the open expanses but pretty much over living in the desert now.

Stop it. I'm already missing my trip there this summer and you aren't helping. Agree about living there.

18 hours ago, ATXZJ said:

Also like NM, the drive to BBNP is a whole lotta nothing. You can turn right or left at ft stockton but youre still driving to fucking ft stockton😁

LOL True. Pretty much any drive west has parts that suck but Ft Stockton and I-10 west of Junction is my least favorite. No scenery boring interstate highway. That stretch just east of Roswell kinda sucks too if you come in from San Angelo which is the way I usually do it. It's flat and boring past that sand dune park until you get to drive off the bluff and down into Roswell. That's kind of cool at least.

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Terlinguia is awesome.....

But I'd hold off till cooler weather 

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The family and I spent a few days in Terlingua during Spring Break. With a 6 and a 9 y/o, we were looking for the kid friendly hikes in the National Park. There are some good ones were you hike for an hour or so, see some cool shit, get in your air conditioned car, and cool off while taking a breathtaking drive to a different part of the park. This strategy worked well managing kids meltdowns but also could be a good game plan to manage the heat. 

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Looks like bubbles are at least $250 per night. I'll stay with the Mining Company!

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19 minutes ago, notyal said:

The family and I spent a few days in Terlingua during Spring Break.

I would greatly appreciate some more details about this when you have time. We've done several trips like this, although I can picture Edward Abbey now, scowling down upon my insolence.

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Posted (edited)

This is where we stay when we wanna ball on a budget. A short drive required to get into town but the basics are all there and the food isnt bad either. The dark skies on the ranch  at night......biblical.

https://terlinguaranch.com/

 

Random ranch pics from my crap phone at the time

 

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Edited by ATXZJ
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We stay here: https://www.vrbo.com/390574?_branch_match_id=764187379070433996&adultsCount=1&oc=6uCTo2fTRSbBVj6gE~tmN&utm_campaign=earned%3Avrbo%3Ashare%3AXXX%3AUS%3Aios&utm_content=390574&utm_medium=social&utm_source=direct

I think it's more than what you need, but great for a family or a bunch of dudes with bikes. 217 acres to ourselves. The house is a doublewide, but it's clean. The kids loved exploring the property, but we had cooler weather than you'd get in the summer. 

For the hikes, my wife downloaded an app that ranked the hikes in the area by distance and difficulty, which is nice because you can throw the State Park in the mix too. Sorry, I don't know what it was called, but the park's website is pretty good.

https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/day_hikes.htm

And here's the "scenic drive" page, although they are all scenic drives out there.

https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/scenic_drives.htm

We did Chisos Basin Loop Trail (plus the very short Window View Trail) and Balancing Rock one day with a picnic lunch in between. That was perfect for us. Bit off a little too much the next day with Crystal trail in the State Park so I had to piggyback one kid for a few miles. Although it was about the same total distance as the day before, those A/C breaks really seem to help. Then, we did Santa Elena Canyon Trail in the NP in the morning before going home. We all wished that we were staying longer. 

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Posted (edited)

IMHO, BBSP is right up your alley for the type of riding it appears you enjoy. There's some great stuff to go explore off trail as well (cabins, mines,etc). The lajitas trail loop is cool and has a little flow mixed in for good measure. The last bit is pure desert tech. We did it around christmas and depending on the wind, we were usually in short sleeves.  There's a bunch of cool stuff to see up on the basin as well but its all on foot. 

https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/498415/lajitas-trails-outer-loop

https://www.mtbproject.com/directory/8010385/big-bend-ranch-state-park

 

This place was a trip too

https://texashillcountry.com/la-kiva-the-heart-of-terlinguas-grisly-murder/

 

 

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Edited by ATXZJ
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This thread made me look up a video my buddy made of a bikepacking trip we did in Big Bend Ranch State Park back in 2010. From talking to and trying to get info from the rangers and Mike Long at Desert Sports, I think we were among the first to do a big multi day ride out there. We had to make our own gps route from the topos. That was a total blast.

 

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