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Old 02-06-2011, 10:51 AM   #1
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Chaco Canyon in April?

We will pick up our new FC23FB in Albuquerque in early April, spend the first night at the Dealership for a thorough inspection and systems test, and then spend a couple of nights at either the KOA or American RV Park while we enjoy ABQ. Our plan is to then visit Chaco Culture NHP on the return to Durango. I've read the horror postings about the access road, so we'll call the park for current road conditions and also drive into the park on the way down from Durango to judge for ourselves. This will be a real 'shakedown' trip for the Airstream. Our camping in our previous trailer (Casita) involved a lot of rough roads, and the Airstream will just have to adapt to our style. I'd appreciate advice on how to prep the trailer for this initial trip. Our TV is a 08 Grand Cherokee Overland Diesel that has taken us off road all over this area, so no worries there. Would you lower the trailer tire pressure on washboard roads? (I carry a compressor for re-inflation). What about added rock protection? Are the cabinets, drawers and doors sufficiently secured or will I want secondary latches? What else?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:32 AM   #2
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Early April is apt to be cold at Chaco, it is moderately elevated and prone to being windy. I have been there at the end of April, and when the wind is up all you can do is batten down and stay inside drinking coffee. As far as the road goes, if you are lucky enough to hit soon after they grade it is reasonably transverse-able given you go slow (SLOW, SLOW, SLOW). If there has been recent rain, I wouldn't do it, and I take my camper everywhere. I would have staying off site and commuting in as an option just in case.

Triple check latches, make sure things are secure as you can make them (maybe move the eggs to the TV) and go slow. Lowered tire pressure might be helpful, but I don't know.

Eye candy from Chaco
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:54 PM   #3
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Congrats on your new AS!

Washboard roads can certainly shake open your cabinets and perhaps the refrigerator.
If your model has a slide out pantry, this can be especially troublesome. Cans and jars will rearrange themselves in a way to block the ability to open the pantry. The gravel/dirt/clay part of the drive in from the north is 13 miles. If this is washboarded then you may need to stay under 10 mph to prevent damage. Instead of installing extra latches, we have used moderate to low stick tapes like masking tape to hold cabinets closed.
On your drive, you may want to check out camp grounds in Cuba as an alternative to towing the AS into Chaco.
BTW, last summer when we were at Chaco, the visitor center was closed for reconstruction. We found no water except for the drinking fountain at the restrooms.
PS: If you need to purchase equipment/supplies, there is a large Camping World store on the I40 frontage road west of ABQ.
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Old 02-06-2011, 03:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamuJoe View Post
We will pick up our new FC23FB in Albuquerque in early April, .... Our plan is to then visit Chaco Culture NHP on the return to Durango. I've read the horror postings about the access road, so we'll call the park for current road conditions and also drive into the park on the way down from Durango to judge for ourselves. ...
Even if the road is in good shape, it will invariably have washboards in some sections, maybe 3-5 miles of the 19 miles. When I got back from my trip there, I tore the back end and bed apart and installed some very air tight dust dams to prevent dust from coming in the back and rafting up to the kitchen cabinet. It was worth one trip, but more than that and I'm sure every screw in the cabinets would have come loose. If you go 5 mph you will shake the shell to pieces. Better to go 40 mph and let the suspension take most of the punishment.

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Old 02-06-2011, 05:19 PM   #5
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What a great place to visit! Wish I could be with you! Above all don't take the road up from Crowpoint! We did that once and was it rough! I think it might be 57 from Seven Lakes. We told the ranger how we came in and he insisted "you can't come that way". We did pop two rivets and the table came loose and fell. Of course the cabinets were open and everything was on the floor. Took us two hours to go 20 miles! Have fun!
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:20 PM   #6
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We've driven in only from the north. An absolutely enchanting place! But would we take the Airstream in? Nooooooooo. It would almost surely be its final voyage.

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Old 02-10-2011, 05:41 PM   #7
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With a new or new to you Airstream on its maiden voyage on a rough road, I would take a few precautions. Tape the pantry cabinets closed with duct tape. Make sure your refrigerator latch sticks, I suggest giving it a sharp pull to see if it opens accidently. Look at the doors under your bathroom sink. Ours derail and fall on the floor so they get taped also.
Inspect your trailer and tape or tighten anything that is likely to open. You don't want to arrive at your destination and clean up a mess.
Spring is the wet season in the dry southwest. Very slippery clay soils are common and are not something you want to deal with towing your airstream. If it is snowing or raining stay on pavement before you venture forth. And if in doubt, make a scout trip in your tow vehicle solo before hitching up.
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:49 PM   #8
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I have to agree with all comments here on the drive in from the north- it is the shortest way in but the roughest road I've ever driven to such a major destination, short of roads in Costa Rica. I hope you get lucky and they have JUST graded it that morning, but otherwise- I would NOT take my AS there. Too bad, because it is indeed very special there, worth a night or 2 or 3... Best of luck- tim
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:44 PM   #9
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We've gone by both routes, neither with the trailer. The southern one is longer. We did it a day after heavy rains and it was pretty sloppy and we ended up rescuing a woman who got stuck in the mud. We had 4WD, so we made it through.

I would like to take the Safari there someday because it's a special place and the only way to stay more than a day is to camp. We've been on bad roads and I can't imagine this is worse than some in northern Canada and Alaska. You could call the park and ask when they grade the road.

My experience is that some people say to never go on roads that I have traveled and didn't think were so bad. Opinions are so hard to translate.

And you are under warranty. It's truly a shake down cruise. A great way to test the trailer. I would not go 40 though.

The Camping World west of Alb. is on the north side of I-40 and the exit is Paseo de Volcan. If you Google it you may get the wrong address on Central and a map that shows it on the south side east of Paseo de Volcan, but it's west of the exit on a service road off Volcan. It is enormous.

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Old 02-11-2011, 10:00 AM   #10
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Thanks for the input, everyone. We do plan to scout the access road on our way down from Durango, and will consult the park rangers about road conditions on the day of our planned entry. Weather in the mountains and high desert can vary in the extremes. I appreciate that some folk are more conservative regarding rough roads, but our style is fairly adventurous (for a retired Safety & Risk Manager) and this is the time to learn if the Airstream is up to the task. Better to find out close to home than in Alaska, which is in the plan for next year!
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:07 AM   #11
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A good fall-back position would be to stay at Navajo Lake SP and drive down to the park. The NM SP system is wonderful, the Annual Camping Pass is a bargain.
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