We arrived at Rusty’s RV Ranch in Rodeo, NM on — and after the first night we went up to the office to extend our 1-month stay to 3 months.

I haven’t seen a night sky that dark since my childhood.

Listed as a “One” on the Bortle Scale, this very rural area has some of the darkest skies in the world.

Rusty’s has 200 ft long sites. If you’ve been to larger motorcoach resorts in Las Vegas, Dallas, and California you can get some idea on how large the sites at Rusty’s are. On the same size plot of land at most of these resorts cover there are usually over 350 individual sites, at Rusty’s, there are 40. The walking loop around the ranch is 1 mile, and there are offshoots from the main loop, so you have plenty of paths to explore the 360-degree view; to the West, you have the Chiricahua Mountain Range, to the North Granite Peak and the East Peloncillo Mountains.

Every Friday Rusty & Tim host a potluck for the guests of the park. You can hang out inside the clubhouse or out on the patio by the fire pit. There is always some interesting stories going around, and everyone is eager to chat about their travels and finds.

After nearly 12 years of full-time RVing, I’ve never experienced such a sense of community. This feeling went on past the guests at the park as well. Locals quickly embrace and include you in their tight-knit family.

In Animas to the East, you’ll find Valley Mercantile – the closest fuel at a mere 19 miles from Rusty’s. So it is safe to say that this is the kind of area that you can’t just WING IT. You need to be aware of your food, water, fuel and such.

On the drive South to Douglas, AZ you can go the whole 60 mile trip without passing a car.

Close to Rusty’s you’ll find plenty to do. The local museum, an art gallery, a bite to eat, a hike, watch some birds, Cave Creek Canyon, Portal Library has free wi-fi. From Portal, AZ you can continue onto Paradise, AZ on a dirt road, or you can hang a left and cross the cattle guard and head into the Canyon. We have the Model X, and I was able to get pretty far into the mountains before the road became an actual “JEEP TRAIL,” there was plenty of room at that point to turn around safely. I will say you will not have cellular coverage at all in this canyon. You need to make sure you plan accordingly. For me, this was putting a flag on Google Maps of where I was driving and sent it to Michael. I had a blanket in the car (it was Dec/Jan) and plenty of water and some snacks. Yanno, just in case.

If you are so inclined, there are several easy day trips from Rusty’s place. If you want to check out historic sites, funky art towns, or take your 4X4 out into the vast open space, you can do that too.

Bisbee, AZ – start at the Mining Museum and see Bisbee up and close. There are shops, dining options and a funky vibe of the locals that makes Bisbee a favorite for me. It is a 90-minute drive from Rusty’s, but there is so much to see and do there – it is worth the trip. I found the drive there relaxing, surrounded by some of the last “untouched” space in the Southwestern US. A traffic jam in this part of the country is about two cars long, and they are just waiting on the cow to get out of the road. *smiles*

Chiricahua National Monument – plenty of trails, and epic views.

Silver City, NM – Bullard Street has quirky shops, great dining options. At the visitor’s center you can check out Billy the Kid memorabilia, and you can walk the path along THE BIG DITCH.

Mount Graham International Observatory is about 2 hours away near Safford, AZ – they are not open year round, and we didn’t make it up there, but it is on the list.

Check out some of our pictures from around Rusty’s RV Ranch and for more general information about the area — check out the Portal-Rodeo Community website.






Lehnanne has shared with the internet her love of research, animals, and writing since 1996. She created and ran several independent online directories and communities. The desire to travel nurtured by every new duty station of her military family moves has stuck with her. When she is not busy being a cat servant and dog-mom, she enjoys exploring new places and dark chocolate.

MastodonLehnanne @ TurtleToot.usMichael @ TurtleToot.us