Photo Courtesy Of: Alicia Bynum
WHERE TO FIND IT
Hidden in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, you will find this luxurious RV Resort with 360° breathtaking views. With the Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor and an Excellent status on Google Reviews, it’s no wonder that Angel Fire RV Resort should be pinned on your map of Summer Destinations for 2019!
Any site within the resort grounds provides stunning views of the mountains nestled in Northern New Mexico. The town of Angel Fire sits at 8,406’, and you will be parked under a wide open sky with sunsets that are out of this world.
Angel Fire RV Resort is between Taos and Cimarron with prime access to all that the Enchanted Circle has to offer. Only a couple hours south of Colorado, you will witness the Southern Rockies with a beautiful array of summertime bloom and flowing waters from the snow capped peaks above.
Pro-Tip: Views of the tallest point in the state, Wheeler Peak, are accessible only five minutes away from the Gatehouse.
Photo Courtesy Of: Angel Fire RV Resort
WHY IT STANDS OUT
Guests come from all around the world to visit this state-of-the-art resort. Many return in a new season with friends and decide to book adjoining Buddy Sites to share the experience. You are met at the Gatehouse by friendly staff and a hub of information for the surrounding mountains and town of Angel Fire.
Enjoy conversations around the communal fire pits or soak in the serenity in the privacy of your RV in an Executive “Adult Exclusive” site. Enjoy tiled showers and computer access in the Bathhouse near the Hot Tub. All accommodations are met in this modern, luxurious outdoor resort. You come a guest and leave as family, and the homely atmosphere is sure to add warmth to your RV adventure.
Pro-Tip: Book Mountain-View to see herds of elk grazing in the field nearby.
Photo Courtesy Of: Alicia Bynum
WHAT TO DO
Whether you choose to stay and relax inside the resort community or venture off to explore the mountains, there is no shortage of activities to accompany your travels. On resort grounds, you will find events like Hot Tub Holiday which features S'mores around the fire pit by the Bathhouse and other festivities like live music behind the Clubhouse. If you book accordingly, you will be in time for hosted banquets like the Taco Bar and Waffle Wakeup breakfast.
Angel Fire Resort boasts to be the “Best Downhill Mountain Biking in the Southwest” with the largest bike park in the Rockies. There are also stunning views only a chairlift ride away with hiking and disc golf at the summit and a beautiful display of wildflowers in summer and spring.
Pro-Tip: Prepare for elevation ahead of time by staying hydrated and being aware of signs for altitude sickness.
Photo Courtesy Of: Angel Fire RV Resort
Taking off beyond the gate will prove an endless map of nearby trails and history for your wandering soul. Angel Fire alone holds a system of Greenbelt Trails for hiking and biking. Pets are always welcomed on leash. If you’re looking for a tour-by-car, put the Enchanted Circle at the top of your Bucket List. You can start and finish at the RV Resort, making a full circle around some of New Mexico’s best hidden gems like Eagle Nest and Red River. If you are staying long-term, make sure to check out Cimarron Canyon and the Wild West history of shooters like Jesse James and Buffalo Bill Cody at the St. James Hotel.
Pro-Tip: Bring your pets along to visit the Angel Fire RV Resort dog park and walk the .9 mile trail looping around the outskirts of the grounds.
Photo Courtesy Of: Angel Fire RV Resort
WHO IS GOING
Beautiful and Well Maintained
“We loved everything about this place. Large, level sites that are strategically placed to avoid feeling crowded. Great dog park with actual grass! Beautiful 25 minute drive to Taos. A swimming pool and hot tubs on site. Also have access to the country club amenities down the road.”
- Silvia M.
Top Notch RV Park!
“Probably the best kept RV park we have ever visited. Beautiful views. Immaculate facilities and beautifully landscaped sites. Friendly and accommodating staff. Great amenities. The best dog park we have ever seen. Most of all....Big Rig Friendly! Would recommend to anyone looking to stay in the eastern side of the Enchanted Circle.”
“We visited Angel Fire RV Resort over our Spring Break, March 2019. We had a wonderful experience there. The facilities are exceptional, clean and very up to date -- less than 4 years old”
- JB Behrens
“Full RV hookups, clean, level concrete pads, very well maintained, nice staff. BEAUTIFUL!!!!”
- Phyllis Marshall
Photo Courtesy Of: Alicia Bynum
Whether you are just passing through or staying long-term, this one of a kind RV experience will have you leaving refreshed, amazed, and thinking about your next trip back.
Visit the Angel Fire RV Resort website for info on booking and availability.
We started the drive home with relief that we weren't taking a rental or UHaul back. We cruised past Pine Valley with a full tank of gas and made our way back through the desert. We planned to stop halfway again, and the GPS was taking us a new route.
It took us through the Tonto National Forest, and it was spectacular. Rows upon rows of cacti defined themselves in front of steep desert landforms, and the desert went from the dirty flats to big mountains. The car cruised up and over each mountain pass on the way back and slowly rebuilt a confusion of confidence.
The night caught up with us, as we were about an hour from the $40 motel we booked on Expedia. The stars were prevalent across the dark sky. We talked about bringing the van back in the summer for a camping trip out in the desert to stargaze.
We made our way to the front desk of the $40 motel, and boy was it a $40 motel. No complaints whatsoever, only stories. The guy at the front desk was a hoot, and welcomed us with his quirky jokes and desk clatter. He said the town had a famous historical feature known as the "Bucket of Blood" where an old western shootout took place.
We ordered a pizza and called it a night.
The next day held a few surprises. Surprise #1 was a drive through The Petrified National Forest. Olin got another stamp in her National Park Passport. We learned that the wood was more like stone, as millions of years of river water had flown through the down logs depositing minerals on the way out.
We enjoyed walking through the interpretive center and learning about the history of the park. We took a walk along the path outside, and Olin climbed the staircase all by herself. She stood on top of the stairs looking down with a content smile. We made a stop at the Painted Rocks and drove over old Route 66. Unplanned stops are always the best, unless they are on the side of the road and you're not stopped by choice.
After The Petrified Forest, the car chugged all the way to Santa Fe before we met surprise # 2.
Smoke poured out of the exhaust pipe and from under the engine. The temp gauge read smokin' hot. Collin walked a couple miles to the nearest gas station to get Coolant and came back looking mighty glum.
The car had made it 13 out of 15 hours almost home, and now that feeling of uneasiness returned as we uneasily shifted to the nearest AutoZone. Back in survival mode, Collin said he was "Never leaving home" once we figured out how to get back. I looked into tow options, UHaul trucks, and even posted the Subie up for sale at worst case scenario. We found a Subaru mechanic near the auto shop, and he said to come on by for a quote. He suspected there was more wrong than he could see, so we booked another night in the motel to make a plan. And meanwhile, the budget was dwindling.
After skimming a few options, we tried to rent a UHaul trailer. They would not rent them for one way use, so we toyed with the idea of seeing the mechanic again and knew we couldn't afford id. We got up in the morning, stress-ate a big continental breakfast, and Collin said, "F-it, let's see if it'll make it home."
And two hours later, we pulled into the driveway. Now to see if it really is the (dun dun dun) infamous blown head gasket.
Catch up with Part I here.
The Dana on Mission Bay was amazing. I checked in with the front desk, and we drove through the gated entrance and parked near what looked like a rainforest. Palm trees everywhere, and I listened for the sound of tropical parrots and expected to duck for toucans.
I thought to myself, is this real life? The room was cozy, refreshing, and spotless. They even gave us a welcome bag for the pups.
The balcony overlooked a mecca of sailboats, and we felt so happy to see this much water after being landlocked for a while.
We unpacked and went to check the place out. There was a poolside bar, hot tub, and events going on daily. I guess we had never "resorted" much, so this was pretty mind-boggling to us. I mosied over to the list of events and saw there was a poolside BBQ, kid-friendly poolside movie, and many other fun things to do without ever having to start up the car.
Insert wavy vision, and my mind started imagining us living here at this resort for more than a few weeks. We'd order room service breakfast every day and spend our days by the pool, sipping mojitos and watching Olin splash in the shallow end. I snapped back to reality and realized we were here for "work" and would make the absolute best of the next two days.
We threw on our guest robes and bopped down to the hot tub. And in case you're wondering, No we did not put Olin in the boiling jet water. Collin and I had been fantasizing about basking in a hot tub for a few weeks at this point and were determined to make it happen. We decided to take turns, the ole parent switchamaroo! We had gotten used to this via biking and hiking sessions- one waits with the kiddo while the other temporarily indulges. He eased into the hot fizzing water with one other guest already soaking on the opposite side. The man studied our family with a half-smile as if anticipating what our next move would be. I sat on the lawn chair with Olin under a night lamp, as the sun was almost completely down. Collin said, "Come on, she'll be fine in the chair." I laughed, knowing that as soon as I got into the steamy water that she'd be running around the concrete tempting her fate at falling into the pool. "I'll wait my turn," I said with a crack-like stare eyeing down the hot tub. "No, really, come on," he said. Fine, I thought, we'll see how this goes. I sat along the edge of the hot tub and dipped my feet in up to my knees. "Come all the way in," Collin persuaded. I momentarily debated if it was worth the toddler screams that would ensue if I were to leave Olin on the edge of the hot tub without an invite to join us. I took a deep breath and plunged waist-deep into the hot, steaming water. It felt wonderful, relaxing. Olin sat on the towel, and I held her hand as I sat with my back to a rushing jet. "Ahhhh, this is nice," I told Collin. "See? She's fine," he said. She had the look, though. I know that look better than I know the taste of mac & cheese. Why aren't you letting me in that hot tub with you and Dad? I imagined her almost two-year-old brain thinking. She started with a low squeal and teasing us like she would plop into the hot water. Collin smiled, and I couldn't help but crack up at the situation. We had done this to ourselves more times than we could count (the worst was the time we took her to a silent city council meeting and forgot the snacks at home mid-row, with no escape on either side). The man sitting across from us asked where we were from, and we struck up a conversation to distract him from Olin's nearing tantrum. We embraced a few more minutes of soaking in the hot water, then Collin said he was going to take Olin for a swim in the heated pool. I took in a couple more minutes, wished the man a good vacation, and followed my family over to the pool. The stars were out, and Olin was giggling as her Dad pulled her back and forth in the warm water. We were all enjoying our time at the Dana.
We woke up feeling rejuvenated and headed back to Ocean Beach. I introduced myself to a few Red Bull hosts and was stoked to see where the day would lead covering this event.
On the return from Big Bear Resort, the bus dropped me off with a few new friends at the University of California San Diego parking lot. They gave me a ride to meet Collin where he was parked a few miles away near the library. It was bad news.
As he had pulled into the parking lot, the timing belt had went AWOL.
Along with what Collin discovered as two missing belts, the harmonic balancer came loose on the crankshaft. We were S.O.L. I saw a familiar panic arise in his face that was present most of the summer we lived in the van. I felt an immense pressure of guilt that I had put my family in this situation. We were stranded at a college campus in SoCal with no idea what to do next.
A very sweet friend I had made on the Switchboard trip offered me a ride to an O'Reilly's Autoparts. Collin called in all the parts we needed, and they were available for pick-up. I came back with belts, but at the time that wasn't enough to fix the Subie.
We retreated back to the Dana via Uber. It took three Uber drivers before one finally let us all in for a ride- two adults, 1 baby, 2 dogs- CHECK. We were feeling less excited about all the resort amenities and didn't speak. We Googled mobile mechanics, but everything was closed, as it was almost 10:00 PM. It was a sleepless night to say the least.
The next morning, we got up at 7:00 AM and anticipated the mobile mechanics to open at 8:00 AM. Collin called a few regular mechanics, but they were closed for the weekend and would not return until the following day when we were scheduled to be halfway back to New Mexico.
$250 bucks and an Uber ride later, Collin was on the way home in the Subaru. A mobile mechanic had saved her, temporarily, and given us the okay to make the 15 hour drive home. We were relieved to be back on the road and celebrated with California burritos.
The burritos were worth the drive alone. Fresh avocado, zesty steak, grilled chicken, and rice all tightly wrapped into a wad of heaven. We hung along the sidewalks of OB and ate our burritos as the dogs sniffed every person that walked by.
It was time to go home.
And then this happened... See Part III.
Collin and I halfheartedly tossed around the idea of driving 15 hours each way from New Mexico to San Diego.
We only had the Subaru for a week, and with well over 200,000 miles on it, he was pretty concerned about driving it all the way to the Pacific Ocean. I mentioned taking the van to save on hotels, but then we were invited to have our lodging expenses covered.
Vaguely discussing renting a car, we decided to test our luck and the Subie's. If anything was wrong with the car, a 900 mile drive would surely let us know. Plus, the guy said he had filled the car with all new fluids, changed the spark plugs, and even replaced the head gasket a few years sooner.
I had been invited out to cover the Red Bull Switchboard event at Ocean Beach and do a write-up on the experience. Collin was tired of the road, maybe still recovering from our 7,000 mile summer road trip. I was determined to get to the event, as it seemed like too great an opportunity to pass up.
Only a couple days away from the weekend, Collin said he and the fam would join me on the last minute road trip to San Diego. We'd only be there for two days. I really hoped this would open up some doors in the outdoor-writing-realm, because if you don't chase your dreams, no one will.
I felt giddy about getting back on the road. I wasn't entirely confident in the Subaru, but something was telling me I needed to work this gig in Ocean Beach. Collin put in a request for a couple days of PTO, and I spent Thursday morning packing up all the baby & dog stuff.
We blazed through Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The hanger was setting in as we pushed through to a near Chik-fil-A (we hadn't eaten it in over a year living in the backwoods and all). And it never tasted so good. A huge plus of living in the mountains is the zero-access to fast food.
The scenery alongside the road was incredible. We had come from big pine trees, driven through the canyon by the Rio Grande River, and now we were face to face with the desert and all its astonishing landforms (and hundreds of cacti).
Collin was right about breaking the trip up into two sections, so we got a nice sleep and a continental breakfast. We hadn't eaten a continental breakfast since Van Life adventures back around the outskirts of Seattle, and man, do we love continental breakfasts. I always feel like such a fatty when it comes to free breakfasts, because I can't pick just one thing. Like, yeah, I'll take some fruit loops with a mix of sausage, are those eggs?, and toast- why not, a bagel, oh- and a plate of freshly battered waffles with extra syrup.
We were 7 hours from San Diego, and the roadside scenery was entertaining the whole way there. Until we had a bit of a scare.
We pulled over at a gas station to "top her off." Collin went inside and realized it was going to be near $5.00 a gallon and said a big fat NOPE. I silently agreed, heck naw. We continued down the road, as our gas log blew off the top of the Subie, classy-like. I ran down the middle of the road and scooped it up along with the pen. Luck.
Collin drove the family stationwagon around some monster canyon-wall curves, as the road kept getting steeper by the minute. The engine was getting hot, about halfway between toasty and burnt toast on the temp gauge. I turned the heat on full blast to cool her down, and we kept on truckin'.
"Shi*t, we are going to run out of gas," he said as we neared the top of the pass, "Look up gas stations, now." The nearest one was 20 miles away. Traffic was backing up in front of us, go figure, as we crossed over the border patrol checkpoint. He looked from the gas gauge, to me, back to the gas gauge, and idled the car through the checkpoint. "Do you have any fresh fruit?" asked the patrol officer. I said no, and we drove on.
We were coasting downhill at this point, thank God. Made it all the way up the pass, and the gas needle was floating on empty. Praise Jeebus, Hellelujah, a sign with a gas pump made its way into view, and we took a hard right.
Three miles into the drive, no sign of the gas station. We took a left and, yay, another hill pointing down. We coasted to the bottom of the hill, and there off the isle of black asphalt was the glorious two-pump waterhole.
So we had more than a full tank now, and the milkshake made everything better. We were almost to San Diego.
We made it to OB just in time for sunset, and it was a beautiful one, mate. After trotting along the beach with college bonfires on each side of us, I remembered I had been here before on a road trip years before. Funny how life works out sometimes. Olin bopped around observing the waves come to and fro. Collin said with a big, cheesy, smile, "Hey, I am going to put on my snowboard gear and walk out into the ocean." I said "okay" and took a few snapshots before returning to the Subie to check out our hotel.
Read Part II here to see what shenanigans we got ourselves into next.
Dogs & Diapers