Travel File: Rita Blanca Grasslands

“Take me camping again this weekend” I told my husband.

“OK, ” he said.  “But let’s go someplace where we can turn 360 degrees and see nothing but prairie surrounding us.”

“Sounds good to me” I said.  “We’ve never camped anywhere like that before.”

windmill

Although we live in the Texas panhandle, finding a spot out on the lone prairie is not as easy as one might think.  The Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grassland areas are close to us (2 hrs), but camping is not very popular in these places apparently.

BUT….I happen to be married to a man who is the master at finding beautiful back roads and other desirable out-of-the-way places.  Say hello to the “picnic area” that happens to be “suitable for camping a night or two” according to the National Parks website:

Thompson Grove Picnic Area

I didn’t say it was the loveliest place I’ve ever camped, but there is a rule that Matt and I can agree upon whenever we travel:  Better to compromise on ideals if you can be rewarded in solitude.  Yes, this very out-of-the-way location needed some TLC.  The trees needed a very good trim, and the logs that were haphazardly strewn about could have been hauled off already….BUT, nobody else was there, and the nature we encountered far outweighed an “eyesore” of a camp spot.

Rita Blanca Grasslands

Rita Blanca is located just south of the Oklahoma border in Texas, and just east of the New Mexico state line.  Not far from the town of Dalhart, TX.  (Click here for night 2 of this trip:  Mill’s Canyon, NM,  in the Kiowa National Grasslands area).  These grasslands encompass approximately 230,000 acres in six counties within New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma.  The land is comprised of small Government parcels that intermingle with privately owned tracts. Prior to settlement, this area was home to many American Indian tribes. The abundance of buffalo and wildlife provides strong testimony to the importance of the grass resource.

MAP

See that grove of trees to the right?  That was our destination. (Yeah, it rained a bit, but most of the dark clouds stayed at a safe distance)

IMG_3879

We cozied up to a larger tree and once we hauled off all the tumbleweeds from beneath the picnic table, we had a pretty nice little spot.

campsite 2

campsite 1I finally used the solar shower Matt gave to me last year for my birthday!  It makes the perfect “kitchen sink” when hung from a tree:

showerWe took an exploratory walk beyond the grove of trees…

sunflower and skyWe discovered the foundation of an old house, complete with basement and surrounding yard decorated with old bovine remains.  I have to admit this area was a little creepy!

old houseWe met 3 different turtles like this one:

turtlelone treeWe ended the night with a beautiful sunset and a fire.

sunsetMaybe it really was beautiful, or maybe it was our favorite childhood show Little House on the Prairie that made it beautiful to us.  Either way, we’re glad we spent a night on the prairie.  Just the two of us with some coyotes howling in the distance and an expanse of grass that stretched…well, 200 degrees around.

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