“Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?” – Aldo Leopold
Each year that we travel we try to add a few more places to camp that we consider “anchor spots”. These are places that are just right for our style of camping… remote, quiet, and surrounded by natural beauty. This year we added Cosmic Campground and wow, does it ever fit our parameters.
As soon as we pulled in we were awed by the natural splendor… in every direction… as far as the eye could see.
The Gila Wilderness and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness reach eastward, and the Blue Range Wilderness is to the west. The Gila National Forest contains 3.3 million acres of public forest and rangeland. Hiking trails abound. I think we found the “nowhere” that we were looking for. This is the scenic west at its best, and it’s free.
The Cosmic Campground has been designated as an “International Dark Sky Sanctuary” the first of its kind in North America. Here is a link to a video that describes the evolution of the project:
…and here is a link to the official Cosmic Campground website:
If you take time to dig into the website, you will find some great information to help you enjoy your stay here. There are binocular observing tips, a “clear sky” prediction chart, and a listing of notable astronomy events for the current year, such as meteor showers and new moons.
The campground is very quiet for the most part, but astronomy activity picks up around the time of the new moon, when skies are their darkest.
This bears mentioning: please be considerate and cautious regarding light pollution. It is really important to keep all outside lights off, and shades drawn at night if you are camping in a RV. If you are walking around outside at night use a headlamp with a setting for red-filtered light. Red-filtered light doesn’t interefere with astronomers’ and fellow campers’ night vision. Most headlamps these days (even cheap ones) come with a red light setting. It doesn’t take much stray light to wreck someone’s night vision… and even less to ruin some poor astropbotographer’s long-exposure photograph.
That said, this is a campground and region that anyone can enjoy, not just the celestially inclined. There are myriad trailheads into the wilderness areas. Stop at the Glenwood Ranger Station to get current trail information. Even the cartpath (aka “road”) that goes past the campground is a pleasant 2-mile round trip walk, and it leads to a nice vista. We even found a few pieces of fire agate along the way.
Here are a few basic details about this FREE campground administered by the Gila National Forest:
It is located about 8 miles north of Alma, NM (Alma is less than a two hour trip north of Silver City – even slow traveling in an RV).
Be prepared to dry camp when you get here. There are vault toilets, but no electricity and no water.
Many of the sites are roomy enough for long rigs. Some are long pull-throughs.
We had strong (3-bar) 4G Verizon phone reception here.
Coordinates: 33 28′ 42.71″, 108 55′ 22.66″
One final note – be sure to patronize the snall local businesses that helped to spearhead this project. The Alma Grill had perfect bacon. Enough said.