Mary Anne Radmacher, an author and artist, once said “I am not the same having seen the moon on the other side of the world.” And after having seen a crystal clear moon from a very special plot of BLM land to the southeast of Tucson, Arizona – I couldn’t agree more.
Our small group of RVs is slowly working towards Quartzsite, AZ and then Lake Havasu for the Escapees Annual Bash. We had some things to get done in Tucson and because we prefer the boonies over the hustle and bustle of city life, we were in search of somewhere to hunker down in nature. Tucson has a couple spots nearby, but nothing that we would consider quiet, remote and good for the soul.
The hunt for a good spot to spend a couple of weeks began to take us further and further away from Tucson. This was a little concerning, but we felt if the right spot presented itself it would all be very well worth the drive. On this front we hit a home run with the BLM managed Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.
To be honest, it was a bit of a gamble. We arrived after dark in an unfamiliar area with unfamiliar dirt roads in multiple 35+ foot rigs. Because this spot is about 37 miles from Tucson and it was late there was little room for error. If we had come all the way out here and found terrible roads or no place to settle in, we would have to turn back towards the interstate and overnight at a truck stop or Walmart. Not ideal.
But, fortunately, we hit a homer and the spot was perfect.
NAME: Airstrip Group Campsite
GPS: 31.7926, -110.6358
The area is designed around the historic Empire Ranch. The ranch, first established in 1876, is a joint venture by BLM and a non-profit 501c3. The BLM conservation area surrounds the ranch with the public lands opened up for dry camping and day use activities.
THE BOONDOCKING SPOTS
This conservation area actually has multiple boondocking spots.
- Airstrip Group Camping Area
- Maternity Well Group Campsite
- Cieneguita Camping Area
- Road Canyon Camping Area
- Oak Tree Canyon Camping Area
We checked out the Maternity Well Group site, the Cieneguita Camping Area site and chose to stay at the Airstrip Group Camping Area. Oak Tree Canyon is not fitting for big rigs, Maternity is too close to the highway, road canyon was a bit too far for our taste and Airstrip hit all the right marks. Cieneguita was full of great spots but the cell service wasn’t as good as Airstrip. And Airstrip was elevated, giving it better 360 degree views of the epic surrounding horizon.
The space we chose could easily house 5 or 6 RVs with plenty of private space. We had 3 with us, all 33-36 foot class A rigs, and we had plenty of room to move around with privacy.
Verizon was solid without the booster and AT&T was spotty unboosted. With WeBoost setup Verizon got nearly full bars LTE and AT&T went to 2 bars LTE (from 2 bars 4G unboosted). No idea on T-mobile but other reviews suggest there is “some” connectivity on the network although it’s often times off and on.
Roads were excellent. Airstrip sites are about 3 miles from the highway with roughly a third of it being dirt road. There was a little bit of washboard here and there but nothing crazy. As far as BLM dirt roads go, this was about as good as you could ever hope/ask for. Very accessible no matter the size of rig.
We stayed at the spot for about a week and a half. Right at the beginning of December. Because of the elevation nights get quite cold. We saw night temps range from 32 to 45. Definitely needed the gas buddy space heater!
Daytime temps at this time of year are very ideal. Typically around 65 with plenty of warm sunshine washing over the area.
The views are simply stunning. There is something awe-inspiring to look at in any direction. The skies at night are epic. There are plenty of areas to hike through and no shortage of lands to explore. All of it is beautiful.
If you’re in the Tucson area and looking for a place to replenish your soul while here, this might make a great place to include as a part of your journey.
It certainly was for us. Two thumbs up and five stars!
(Note: Pack it in, pack it out. No dumpsters and no services.)