February isn’t a big season for camping because most campers don’t enjoy the cold and some established campsites are closed for the winter season.
My wife and I wasn’t into winter camping becuase of those reasons too, but since Lambo gets a bit too hot in the warmer months camping. We figured lets do a camping trip more for Lambo. He has seen snow before and out in the 30F winters of Houston, but never a multi day camping trip.
Well, Texas weather is a bit wild and the day we were supposed to leave was ongoing a big winter storm. The coldest Houston has seen in years, and lasted for 5 days. We had to delay our leave because we wanted to make the house has no issues from the winter freeze. What was supposed to be 6 days camping became 4 days. Thankfully our home survived, and gave us a peace of mind when we started the trip.
First stop was Lincoln NF in New Mexico. Passing through Texas, all the roads were clear of snow, but you can see how much snow accumulated on the land. Houston got a light dusting compared to rest of Texas. Some 12hrs or so later, it was night time when we started driving on the forest roads. The mountains still had snow that was probably from the same winter storm that hit Texas. The dirt trail was muddy and icy but nothing the Land Cruiser couldn’t handle.
Around 8pm when we made camp. My wife and I have this system where I set up the tent and campfire, and my wife sets up the bathroom and washing station. We had a quick dinner and just enjoyed the night till is was time for bed. Later in the night, the wind gust became strong. My wife mentioned earlier the wind gust forecasted to be 25mph. I didn’t think much of it because 25mph is slow driving, soo the wind wouldn’t be an issue. I was very wrong. Late night early morning, the wind howling and hear the trees rustling in the wind. Our Roofnest was solid and was kept safe from the cold wind gust. I did wake up to an orange glow, and saw our campfire was still going! Soo I ran out in my underwear and quickly doused and soaked the campfire. A lot of forest fires are due to unattended campfires, so make sure your fire is out before you sleep.
Then next morning, the bright sun rays woke up. The weather was about 30F and I made breakfast from the leftover bread and hotdogs. Packing up was pretty quick, we are loving the easy set up and take down of the Roofnest. Next was slight detour to White Sands National park.
This was our first time at White Sands NP and was super beautiful. The white sands reminded me of the beaches at Boracay, but without the ocean. You are surrounded by desert, then you have this area that is just white sand dunes. Soo cool, and I highly recommend to visit. Its unfortunate you cant camp currently at white sands, due to covid, regardless would make a nice day trip.
After White Sands NP, we drove to our campsite at Gila NF. The drive was about anther 4 hours from White Sands NP. We came on the forest road and drove till we found a nice little dispersed campsite. We made it before sunset and had time to cook a nice steak. We watched the sunset while drinking our whisky. This night was a lot colder then yesterday, but no wind gust. Lambo loved the cold nights. We chilled by the campfire till it turned into embers. Then we started to really feel the cold and headed to the tent. We brought our Mr. Buddy space heater and it quickly warmed up in seconds. We were very comfortable in the tent, and watched a pre downloaded movie on Netflix. We turned off the buddy heater, and drifted into sleep.
The next morning, the brightness of the sun rays woke up. I love sleeping and waking up to the day. You dont have a sense of time but you know when to sleep and wake just how the sun sets and rises. Once I climbed out of the tent, I realized how cold it was. I felt the sharp cold bite, and layered up. Our wash station nozzle froze from the cold! We had quick breakfast with left over steak and added rice to the meal. Then I made quick video of our camping set up. Eventhough it was cold, the weather was perfect. We hiked some trails nearby for our exercise and then got ready to head to Grand Canyon.
The drive to the Grand Canyon from Gila NF was soo pretty. I felt like was in the Alpine Aps in Europe. Driving in the forest roads, surrounded by trees and snow. Some areas where the sun was shining, the snow was melting and made some of the trails muddy. That was pretty fun, and you definitely needed 4×4 for those areas.
We arrived at Grand Canyon, and during the winter season its not as packed or crowed. But I’m also sure covid has a part in it too. We actually enjoy the less crowds because, the park felt more private. During the winter season, you can drive on the road that is only for busses during the busy season. This meant we could explore deeper in the Grand Canyon and get some nice views.
After doing some site seeing, we were thinking if we should camp nearby at Kaibab NF for free, or pay at Mather Campground inside the Grand Canyon. I heard that camp spot gets packed quick and first come first serve. We ended up paying for Mather Campground, and was $15 a night. Relatively cheap and you get a restroom and running water. Mather Campground is nice, but the whole experience wasnt for us. We are used to dispersed camping, which is free, and we have all the things we need to camp in the middle of no where. Mather Campground felt too crowed even with vacant spots next to us. But you can hear the generators of the RVs. The veiws are okay, but nothing too spectacular. In the morning we had an elk come near us and that cool. Mather Campground is for those that want to have people visibly near by, and dont want to pay for a hotel to visit the Grand Canyon. For us, it was a one time deal. It just reaffirmed that we like to do dispersed camping over paid campsites.
Then next day, we got ready for our drive to Vegas. We stayed in the Cosmopolitan for 4 days and was looking forward to a shower. At the time its very cold to shower at camp, even though we didn’t sweat, we felt dusty. 4 days of not showering is the limit my wife and I would do. We also packed enough clothes for 3 days and needed to head to laundry mat.
When we arrived at the Cosmopolitan, the rig was too big to fit in the garages, so the valet people parked in the front! Nice and convent parking. I loved how dirty the LC looked pulling up in the Cosmopolitan, you can tell we had a great time camping. The hotel suite we got was super luxurious with wrap around terrace and veiw of the Vegas strip. Felt like condo living, and didn’t want to leave.
During the stay in the Vegas, things are a lot different with covid. A lot of the Vegas shows are canceled, and the casinos are 50% capacity, with every other slot machine marked off. It felt weird, but we been to Vegas before for the shows and gambling. This time we did it bit different, and went to sight see the National Parks and trails around Vegas. The weather in February was very pleasant with highs of 60s and lows of 40s. We hike in the morning and by the time its lunch Lambo is tired and we ate the restaurant outside the Vegas strip. Prices are alot cheaper outside the strip. Then come night time and we would check out the restaurants in the Cosmopolitan and do a bit of late night drinking. Life is good.
Then our stay in Vegas had to come to an end and back to the real world. We did the two day drive back to Texas and camped at Las Cruises KOA. This is a more fancy paid campsite. Very nice staff and our campground was neatly arranged. This was just quick overnight stay and the last day we arrived home.
We had a great time and experience doing this trip. This wasn’t our first time winter camping but it was a first camping comfortably in the winter. We tested our 0F sleeping bag and it kept us nice and warm. The Mr Buddy space heater we used to heat up the tent and turn it off right before sleeping. The Roofnest tent held up in the wind and cold, and protected up from the elements. Lambo enjoys the cold weather. We can tell from the long hikes and was keeping pace. The number one thing we really like about camping in the winter is there are no bugs! I think we will be doing more fall and winter camping in the future.