Russ and Tiña De Maris
The Weather Channel once published a photo-heavy feature called, “Most Amazing Hidden Gems in Every State.” Included in the lot were four “gems” under the watch-care of the Bureau of Land Management, all of them Out West.
Black Sands Beach (Humbolt County)
Here’s an amazing “off the beaten track” feature you’ll want to visit. Taking its name from the literal black sands, the beach is out-of-the-way, and seldom overrun with tourists. While there’s no camping here, just eight miles away Wailaki Campground on Highway 101 provides respite to smaller RVs for just $8 a night.
If you plan a visit to the black sands, beware that the current and tides are treacherous; surfing is great for the experienced, but avoid it in winter when the surf isn’t as forgiving. Disability access to the beach is tough; it’s a steep path. Still, the views are awesome.
Apart from its breathtaking sights, the convenience of the beach makes it an amazing spot for adults or parents with older children to visit. Although conveniently located, the beach itself is secluded from any major highways by large hills which border the shoreline. This seclusion means the area doesn’t get very busy, even during weekends, and it is one of the most appealing features for those looking for a quiet day at the beach. Although Black Sands Beach is a short walk from the parking lot (which offers handicapped parking, drinking fountains, bathrooms and geological information) people with disabilities or small children should be forewarned that the walk down to the beach can be dangerous, as the hills are steep and often contain overgrown shrubbery.
Browns Canyon National Monument
One of America’s newest National Monuments, nearly 22,000 acres of canyons, forests and rivers are co-managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. Already famous among whitewater rafters, no doubt the new designation will bring others who want to get a close view of wildlife, as elk, golden eagles, bighorn sheep and peregrine falcons are denizens of this rugged country.
It’s pretty early in the process to see how things will shape up in terms of RV recreation. Loosen up your hiking boots and be prepared for rugged.
It seems strange that one state would have two attractions on a “Gems in All 50 States,” but we think somebody at the Weather Channel got confused. Originally, they placed Rio Grand National Monument in Texas – an easy mistake, no? We’ve properly located both locations in New Mexico.
Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
Again, a new entrant into America’s National Monument System, this huge tract of land, nearly 250,000 acres, got its status in 2013. Volcanic landscapes are bisected by two rivers, the Rio Grande and the Rio San Antonio. Mountains, plains, hot springs, sage brush to stands of pinyon pines, the monument poses a wide variety of landscape and plenty of critters, large and small.
Lots of roads travel through the monument, so getting access with your RV shouldn’t pose a problem. Campgrounds from primitive to those with water and electric sites are dotted throughout the holdings.
The landscape rolls along into badlands which, in the words of the BLM, “Offers some of the most unusual scenery found in the Four Corners Region. Time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations made of interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt. The weathering of the sandstone forms hoodoos – weathered rock in the form of pinnacles, spires, cap rocks, and other unusual forms.”
The wilderness takes its name from the Navajo tongue: Bisti (Bis-tie) “a large area of shale hills.” De-Na-Zin (Deh-nah-zin) takes its name from the Navajo words for “cranes.”
All photos, Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management