Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cochiti Lake Recreation Area, New Mexico

Current Location: Pena Blanca, New Mexico

We pulled into the Cochiti Lake Recreation Area late yesterday afternoon. It's about 30 miles north of Albuquerque and about 12 miles off the highway. It's very remote once you leave the highway, but the roads getting here are pretty good. It's always a bit nerve-wracking heading into these remote areas for the first time, not knowing what to expect. But the description of the campground stated that it was big-rig friendly so we figured it would be ok.

A lot of campgrounds bill themselves as "big-rig friendly" but we're finding that that is very subjective. Sometimes, they only have one or two sites that we could fit in. Other times, the roads are too narrow or there are too many trees or other obstacles which make it extremely difficult. We are learning that it's good to have one or two backup options just in case our first choice doesn't work. We never had these problems when we were in our 24' motorhome!

But back to this campground. It is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers so we were pretty confident that the description was fairly accurate. We had never been to a COE campground but had heard good things about them. This campground is pretty nice. There's an older section and a brand new section (just opened this year). We were first assigned a spot in the older section, but after a couple of attempts at getting into the spot we determined that wasn't going to work (too small). The new section had much larger sites, but most are reserved for the weekend. We went back to the office to ask if we could have one of the newer sites as long as we were gone before the reservation date. We weren't sure if we were going to stay 2 or 3 nights here, but I guess that made our decision. We'll only stay 2 nights and pull out on Friday morning.
All of the sites have a nice view of the lake. That's us on the left.
Because there are no trees here, the sites aren't terribly private, but they are reasonably spaced. It sounds like this place gets pretty busy in the summer. There is boating (no wake only) and swimming in the lake.
I think 2 nights will turn out to be just long enough. There aren't many hiking opportunities, as I thought. And as Hunter quickly discovered last night, the ground is full of loose stickers which have blown off nearby bushes. He's pretty much forced to stay on the road. The weather today isn't cooperating for outdoor adventures anyway. It is very windy. The forecast for Albuquerque was for gusts up to 50 mph. With the lack of trees, I suspect it is always somewhat windy around here, but it's downright miserable out there now. So today has ended up being a pretty lazy day, which is ok too. I'm just glad we're not trying to drive in this. I think we learned our lesson on that one already!

That's it for now. Tomorrow we'll continue westward, with our next stop nearby the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert in Arizona. More on those later...


  1. I stayed in the old section of the park last October for a week and really enjoyed it. I guess you've run out of time to visit the National Monument that is close by (can't remember the name of it right now), but it was awesome. Most interesting part of the stay was how the water hookup for the site was more than 50' away and six feet up in the air! My site was very private, since it was off season. Enjoy!

  2. Sounds like you found a good place to stop over for a day or two. COE parks are usually nice in our experiences.

    I still haven't gotten used to the wind and the sound it makes inside the RV. It begins to grind on my nerves after a few days. Hopefully as you move on the wind will stay put.

    Drive safely and enjoy the journey!!

    Mike & Gerri (

  3. Wow, you've really made some tracks this week.

    When we are parked, we pull the slide(s) in when the winds get over 35-40 mph to stabalize the RV. Its a scarey feeling when the winds pick up like that.

    Have a safe trip to AZ and enjoy the scenery. :)