10/21-22/2015. Wed.-Thurs. Time to head further South after 3 nice weeks with our fellow RVing friends, even with the truck problems we had. We headed out down I-25 towards just across the border into New Mexico and the town of Raton, which is Spanish for “small rat”. Unfortunately, it was raining the morning we left, and our friends met us at a local Wal-Mart to say goodbye and let us know they would catch up to us on Friday in Albuquerque. Therefore, the fog and rain didn’t give us any decent views of the mountains. Some areas were mostly hills with sprawling ranches. My, my,my, it was foggy when we arrived in Colorado Springs, and then foggy again 3 weeks later when we left!
We dove South over the Raton Range and Pass located north of Raton. The Raton Range is a 75-mile-long ridge that extends east from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Raton Pass had been used by Spanish explorers and Indians for centuries to cut through the Rockies, but the trail was too rough for wagons on the Santa Fe Trail so the town became a stop on the trail and a principal trading center of the area. Today the town is close to being dried up. The whole place was so run down with lots of places boarded up and buildings that gave up on the idea of maintenance! Not a place we would want to stop again.
Doug found the NRA Whittington Center campground on rvparkreviews.com and it is located 15 miles southwest of town. Wow! This is quite a complex. Founded in 1973, it is the largest NRA shooting range in the US covering 52 acres. It hosts national competitions as well as high powered rifle and skeet shooting. Plus the center has a nice visitor’s center and a restaurant. Deer, Elk, Bear, and Mountain Lion hunts can be arranged. Nice cabin and lodge rooms are also available. Somebody put a good deal of work into creating the place. We think much of the money comes from donations by hunters from all over the US. But the center is definitely in the middle of nowhere!
Now the bad part. It was still raining pretty hard when we arrived. Once we checked in and passed through the entrance to the grounds, no more nice paved road! We drove 2 miles down a dirt washboard muddy road to the campground. What a mess! By the time we parked, our white truck and RV was brown. We also thought the price of $30 a night was way over priced to park in dirt/gravel and prairie grass. We did have full hookups but the sites were close together and no other amenities other than a bathhouse. There were some pull-through sites along the perimeter but passed on the one assigned us because it was a steep dip and so overgrown that there would be hardly any space to get in and out of the RV. We chose a pull-through site more out in the open. I was so upset over all the dirt and mud that I wanted to cry! But stubborn me! The next day I took the long handled scrubbing brush and brushed as much of the dried dirt off as possible.
I think we were the only actual campers in the whole place. There were 4 other RVs there but we think they were work campers.
Doug picked this place, also, because a review talked about all the wildlife. Sure enough, the first evening, 5 Mule Deer stepped out of the bushes behind us and walked right by our windows. The first thing early the next morning, a Jackrabbit appeared and sat right behind our window. I was so glad the review of the campground was accurate. It helped to make up for the rain and mud!
The next day we were rewarded with one of those rare perfect blue sky and fluffy clouds day! We could see the surrounding countryside for miles right from our site. It was a little chilly with a nice breeze but just perfect. Funny how something starting out rotten can turn out to be a gem of an experience. It was so serene.
We were surrounded by pretty scenery. Uh, oh! Photo bombed myself!
Since the place was noted for wildlife, we decided to go “hunting” after breakfast. We hit it just right! We got our wildlife fix as we drove down some of the other dirt roads on the grounds.
We were even rewarded with a nice sunset.