Boondocking 102: Weekends get crowded

Boondocking in the Dragoon Mountains

03/01/2021 Dragoon Mountains, Tombstone, AZ. After all of the running around I did last Friday, I was really looking forward to a nice, peaceful weekend. Finding a space at night was quite the challenge, but I found a good spot just off of the first loop off of Middlemarch Road in the Dragoons. Since it was already dark, I just settled in for the night. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my propane hose for the heater in and spent the first night without heat. That was fine because I was very toasty in my bed. It’s getting up in the morning that can be a shocker. I think it was 34′ outside.
The next morning, I inspected my spot to make sure that it was OK and the van was nice and level. Set up was simple, just a table, chair and my tiny new outdoor mat. I grabbed the hose from the back and set up the heater. Next to me were a couple of trailers and a bunch of little kids who were riding around in their electric cars in front of my camp site. Then the dog came out and was barking at me. None of the adults came over to retrieve their kids and I debated if I should stay or find another spot. Since I was just staying one more night and was seriously outnumbered, I just let it be.
The hiking trails weren’t that easy to find in the loop. After a short hike up the rocks , I landed in other campers’ sites, and apologized for the intrusion. The camp area was full except for one spot. I decided to take a walk up the road to see if anything else was available, but nothing really was. I did find a very cool hiking trail called Slevan’s Gulch, and took the horse trail up the rocks. By the time I got back I think I hiked about 7 miles!
I settled back into camp and planned my photo shoot for the night. The moon was full and would come up just above the mountain range. A man and his dog came to visit and he explained that the weekends have been really full of campers, hikers and rock climbers lately. He also said that there aren’t many places to camp around here because the ranchers put up gates and it’s hard to get in close to the mountains. There are only a couple of places to go dry camping (boondocking) in the area. I also tried to ignore the 3 men who carried a chain saw in the wash behind me that cut off some branches from a dead tree. Geez I thought that that was illegal (it’s not). The kids were screaming and playing and the music was blasting in the site next to me. There was also a fire warning, but they made a big fire anyway. Here I thought I was going to have a peaceful weekend of solitude, but I was wrong! I thought about calling the rangers at that point.
The moon didn’t come up until about an hour after the moon rise and it got cold, but it was so pretty. That kind of made up for the noisy campers and it did get quiet toward the end of the evening. Later that night, a car drove up and parked in the last spot across from me. I slept well considering, but hightailed it out of there before 8am the next morning.
Boondocking in the Dragoons was a little disappointing. I don’t think I’ll do it again in this area, but do plan to camp at a State Park soon. Lessons learned mi amigos!

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