After Phoenix, we stopped at Camp Verde at a full-hookup campground for a couple of days so I could do our laundry, even more important since we planned to boondock for a week in Sedona. This was meant to just be a place to clean up, guzzle water, and clean out our black tank but since we were right there, we took a half day to visit Montezuma Castle National Monument, home to one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America and Montezuma Well, a natural limestone sinkhole with a near-constant supply of spring water, even in times of drought. Even better, both are dog-friendly so we were able to bring Opie with us on the (short) trails.
The name Montezuma Castle is a misnomer. The cliff dwellings were discovered by Europeans hundreds of years after they were abandoned and the explorers thought the dwellings were somehow connected to the Aztec emperor, Montezuma. The cliff dwellings are about 90 feet up, nestled securely within an alcove which probably explains why they’ve survived so well over time. There’s a short paved trail with some informational plaques but they stopped allowing visitors inside the dwellings after 1951 to protect the site.
From the Castle, it’s a short drive to Montezuma Well. There is another short paved path that leads to the well with stairs that lead down and next to the waters. You can see some cliff dwellings around the well, plus some interesting historical graffiti. People have been visiting the Well since the late 1800’s and would sometimes write advertisements on the walls for nearby businesses. I guess it’s human nature to draw/write on anything. Another 1000 years and those advertisements will no longer qualify as graffiti but as pictographs.
With clean clothes, sheets, and towels, we headed north to the Land of Red Dust. Last year, we spent a couple of weeks in Sedona and loved it. There are so many incredible dog-friendly trails that we wanted to come back this year to hike a few more. Last year we stayed in town at Rancho Sedona RV Park for a week. It is right in town so you have access to all the amenities of the town but it’s expensive and still a fair drive to get to most of the trailheads. This year we (and by “we” I mean Mike) decided to find a good boondocking site right outside of Sedona.
There is one main unpaved Forest Service Road (FR 525) that most boondockers use and after scouting it with the car, we found a great spot to hang out for a week. The spot was large, with a great view, and most importantly, a strong cell signal. The dirt road to get to the site is full of ruts, bumps, and washboard sections, making the drive slow and challenging. After a LONG 4.7 miles, we made it to our site and just basked in the views. When we first arrived, there was only one other RV there but over the next few days, more meandered in until we were a little neighborhood. It turns our one of our neighbors was Away We Winnebago, fellow bloggers who we’d followed online but never met in person before, and camping with them were American Landlopers who we’re following now.
Our main limiting factor when boondocking is finding a fresh water supply. We’ll usually scout the town and see if we can find an open spigot somewhere we can get potable water to fill our portable 5-gallon water tote. We found that the Bashas’ supermarket in Sedona has 24/7 water dispensers for 15 cents/gallon, but our tote was too tall to fit in their dispenser. Fortunately, right next door was The Water Store where they filled our tote for 35 cents/gallon. Since Rover’s water tank holds 70 gallons and we’ve gotten good at conserving water, we only filled up our 5-gallon tote once during our week-long stay, and found we didn’t even need to do that (but it’s always nice to have a little extra water).
On the electricity side of things, our solar panels did a great job keeping us powered up… until we had a couple cloudy days in a row. While we still got decent solar energy through the clouds, it wasn’t enough to offset the greedy demands of our residential refrigerator, so we ran our generator for an hour or two a couple of mornings to give our old lead-acid batteries a much-needed boost.
I loved boondocking in Sedona. We were surrounded by mountains and we saw hot air balloons around us almost every morning. We even had an unexpected balloon visitor one morning when they set down right in our neighborhood. Unfortunately we also experienced the loud engines and dust of jeep tours and ATVs driving down the road but since our camping side was away from the road, Rover was a nice dust-block (as long as the windows were closed!)
Last year, since we were camped in Sedona proper, we did some dining and exploring inside the town. Since we aren’t much for towns and city sightseeing, we skipped it this time around and spent almost all our time hiking some new and fun trails…
… to be continued