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Camping In The Gauds

By Michele Robertson Ideal temperatures bring forth the opportunity for comfortable camping in the Guadalupe Mountains. Nighttime temps are around the mid to upper 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and daytime temps are near 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This edition of Chasing Shade: Adventures in the Desert explores camping in the Gauds -the Lincoln National Forest, Guadalupe Ranger District to be more exact. The Guadalupe Mountains share space with the Lincoln National forest, and the Guadalupe Mountain National Park. Both areas allow camping, but each have their own rules and guidelines to consider. It is important to know before you go. Visiting their website is a great idea for finding current information about the Park or Forest at Koch, Administrative Support Assistant with the Forest Service, Lincoln National Forest, Guadalupe Ranger District shared updates about camping within the forest. Currently both the Forest and the Park are under fire restrictions. Be sure to look at the current restrictions before heading out on your adventure. While the Forest does allow campfires under certain conditions, open fires are always prohibited in the Park. With the pandemic, people have sought the outdoors more, and both the Park and the Forest have seen an increase in visitation. “Our biggest challenge with higher visitation has been the increase in trash and human waste on the forest,” said Koch. Practicing the ethics of Leave No Trace is encouraged. Amenities can be scarce in desert conditions, Koch shared that both new and seasoned campers should “be sure to bring what you need, especially plenty of water, and pack out what you pack in. Having a map that is either in paper form or downloaded on their device in case cell service isn’t available in the area they are in. Adhere to all regulations, closures, and fire restrictions in effect.” “Always let a friend or family member that will not be recreating with you know your itinerary and expected location on the district in case of an emergency,” Koch added. Options from Koch about camping in the Forest include: using the undeveloped campsites (meaning there are no amenities) and dispersed or “road-side” camping: You may drive to park your RV no more than 300 feet from an open road designated for such use. Please check with one of the Forest offices to obtain a free Motor Vehicle Use Map which details exactly what roads you can disperse camp along. Most roads, outside of US and State Highways are available for this use. Please be mindful that there are many private land inholdings within the Forest and

these lands are not available for camping. Also, the Forest doesn’t have any Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) trails –OHVs are allowed only on open forest roads. Free Motor Vehicle Use Maps are available at the district office. The Park website shares that camping in the Park is currently only allowed in the designated campgrounds of Pine Springs and Dog Canyon. Backcountry camping is prohibited at this time. These developed campgrounds offer onsite bathroom facilities with flush toilets and sinks as well as leveled tent sites and RV spaces. The Park visitor center is open with limited capacity from 8:00 am -4:30 pm. Visitors are strongly encouraged to have alternate plans for hiking and camping in the Park, especially on the weekends as spaces may fill by mid-morning. If you like night sky watching, camping in the Guads is a great place for it. Full moon camping is an experience like no other, it gets so bright it seems like it is daytime. While new moon camping offers cosmic views and wonderful stargazing. “On a clear, moonless night the night sky viewing can be quite good, depending where you are on the district. It would depend largely on the moon phase, how much pollution (including light pollution), and moisture is in the air. Visitors should choose an area that has the least amount of ambient light from cities and towns and check moon phases (new moon phase is ideal) for the best experience. Visit websites (such as earth and sky) for information on meteor showers and eclipses!” Koch shared. To contact the Lincoln National Forest you can call 575-885-4181, or find them on Facebook and Twitter. Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors, our area has so much of it to explore. Remember to #recreateresponsibly while outside and always be prepared

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