The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is located in a very remote wilderness and modern accommodations are scarce in this region. For those who plan to visit this World Heritage Site, camping in the Gila National Forest will be the best option, because the extra time spent in the great outdoors will certainly enhance the experience. There are several modes of camping to choose from in this region, which range from deep woods wilderness campsites to star gazing theme campgrounds that have solid telescope pads. There are also a few roadside weekend warrior party campgrounds that can be a bit noisy after dark, which might not appeal top those who survived a long day. The best way to find a campground that best suits your needs is to stop by one of the National Forest Ranger Stations. The rangers know the character of each campsite in this vast National Forest and the information provided will ensure that a visitor will find a campsite mode that best suits their purpose.
The ease of access is important when choosing a campground, because not all National Forest dirt roads are regularly maintained and some are too rough for an RV driver to handle. By just picking a campground on a map out of the blue, the access road conditions will be unknown, which can cause some frustrating situations. Logging operations are not featured on maps and there is nothing like showing up to a dispersed camping area where heavy equipment is flying by all day long. Using the internet to check the status of National Forest Campgrounds is nearly impossible to do in remote areas because there is no data signal, so once again, the local Ranger Station is the best resource for checking the the campground conditions and the ease of access.
The Pueblo Park Campground is one the best campgrounds that can possibly be imagined in the Gila National Forest. This National Forest pay as you go campground offers a vast grassy field with towering Ponderosa Pines that provide plenty of shade. Many of the individual campsites have picnic tables and fire rings. Sanitation facilities are on site, which is a real plus. The Pueblo Park Campground is as cozy as can be, but there is a slight downside. The bumpy access road can be challenging for large RV drivers or long trailer haulers. Medium size RVs and car campers will have no problem dealing with the narrow dirt road, which is good to keep in mind.
Upon arrival, a visitor will discover that the Pueblo Park Campground sign states that this is an Apache National Forest property. This may cause a camper to wonder how they ended up in the Apache National Forest, when the map says this area is deep in the Gila National Forest. Some questions are best left as a mystery, but most likely this has to do with which Ranger Station covers the area or it is due to previous National Forest boundaries. This campground is listed in the Gila Nation Forest website and this is what counts when researching the conditions.
In general, the summer tourism season is very busy in this part of New Mexico, but after Labor Day the number of visitors dramatically decreases. Early autumn is the start of the hunting season and hunters definitely head for the National Forests when seeking to stock up on food. For this reason, it is best to wear bright color clothing when doing a casual camping venture in the woods this time of year.
Since the bulk of the tourists have gone home before autumn begins, the National Forest campgrounds are nearly empty this time of year. The exception is hunters that set up a basecamp for their venture. Hunters tend to be thrifty when it comes to camping modes, so they prefer to camp in free dispersed camping areas because the time it takes to fill the tags may be one or two weeks. What this means is the pay as you go campgrounds nearly sit empty during the hunting season, which was the case at the Pueblo Park Campground during my visit.
There was only one other camper at this big campground when I did an overnighter in early autumn, but there sure were plenty of hunters out in the woods. In fact, I was stopped on the access road by hunters from Texas that had questions to ask. My personal appearance was rather woodsy at that time, so I guess I looked like a trusted resource for finding out where some deer or elk could be found. After mentioning that I had not seen any elk in this forest and I only spatted a few small deer. A look of disappointment came over their faces, but we had a good time talking anyway.
No matter whether it is hunting season or not, the Pueblo Park Campground certainly is a nice place to enjoy the great outdoors! There are several hiking and biking trails in this area, so there is plenty to see and do. This is a premium wildlife viewing area as well, but the wild animals tend to stay well hidden when the hunters are stalking through the woods. Autumn season camping does not get much better than what is found at Pueblo Park, so be sure to check out this picturesque campground when passing through!
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