On the Move From Yuma to Ajo, Arizona

Greetings, everyone, from a brand new location for us! We just arrived at our new campsite on BLM land just outside Ajo, Arizona. We left the Pilot Knob BLM Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) about 9:30 this morning and had a fairly easy drive of 165 miles to reach this spot.

We enjoyed our time in Yuma, although we didn’t really do anything all that exciting. We’ve already seen the old Territorial Prison Museum, and that’s about the most significant historical site in town. We spent the better part of one day in Los Algodones, Mexico where we ate lunch and picked up a few trinkets and some almond-flavored tequila. We always enjoy our excursions to Algodones, but it takes forever to get through U.S. Customs to come back over the border. We waited in line over two-and-a-half hours, the longest it has ever taken us to get out of Mexico.

Far right, people standing in line waiting to go through Customs to get back into the US. The cars are waiting to drive across the border. And yes, that’s the wall–higher and more substantial than the last time we were here in 2020.

In the fourteen days we stayed at the LTVA, we had the breakfast buffet ($8.95) at the Quechan Casino three times, and we also had their Saturday night seafood buffet once. They definitely know how to treat the RVers and snowbirds who flock to their area in the wintertime.

We thought we might move over to the Imperial Dam LTVA after our stay ended at Pilot Knob. We drove over there one day in the car just to check things out, and we weren’t impressed. Yes, they have dump stations and potable water, but the place was crowded and a lot of the rigs looked like they had moved in permanently. A lot of people camp there in the winter because of the nearby water, but really there are a limited number of spots where you can actually see the water from your rig. Unless you get there early in the season, or you just get extremely lucky, you’re just going to have a view of your nearby neighbor’s yard art. We decided to nix the Imperial Dam idea.

Nothing like a propane firepit to keep things simple and smoke-free.

We did have one little incident while we were at Pilot Knob. Andy had to take the rig to the nearby RV park to dump the tanks, so of course we had to bring in the slide. When he returned, I hit the button to extend the slide and kept my eye on the far left side where it barely clears the valance over the window. What I didn’t notice was that the door on the wardrobe had come open while the rig was moving, and the right side of the slide got hung up on the door pull. Before I realized what was happening, some of the trim around the slide had popped off, and the wardrobe door handle had gotten bent sideways. Fortunately, the slide mechanism doesn’t appear to have suffered any ill effects, and we’ll repair the trim when we get home.

Damaged trim on the slide from where it caught on the left door pull on the wardrobe. The top corner completely fell off, and the vertical trim was pulled loose at the top.

I spent one morning doing a little geocaching, and found two that were within walking distance (less than two miles) from our rig. They were both small caches made of pill bottles that had been wrapped with duct tape, and each contained a paper log for signing. But neither of them had any trinkets to trade, so I left something in each of them for the next person to find.

One of the geocaches I found in the desert.

About the most exciting thing that happened was on the second-to-last morning we were there. Keep in mind that the LTVA is only about 1.5 miles from the border wall, which is on the opposite side of a large irrigation canal that waters all the crops in the area. Around 4:30 AM I got up to go to the bathroom, and when I returned to bed I noticed there was light shining on our bedroom window shades. The light was moving like maybe a vehicle was driving by, but I didn’t hear anything. I raised the shade on my side of the bed a couple of inches and looked outside, and it looked like there were at least a dozen Border Patrol trucks setting up a perimeter around the LTVA. In addition, there were several Border Patrol vehicles inside the LTVA, driving over the dunes and into the washes, obviously looking for someone. Several agents were on foot with flashlights, searching the area. And then at one point I distinctly heard someone run past our rig in the darkness. I woke Andy up to let him know what was going on, and we lay there in the dark and watched out the window for awhile. Andy fell back asleep pretty quick, but I was awake for good at that point, and I watched until they left after about an hour. No idea if they found the person or persons they were looking for, but they were definitely putting in the effort.

Beautiful sunsets in the LTVA.

So, our 14-day permit expired this morning. We had considered renewing it for another 14 days, but it’s already starting to warm up in Yuma, and we wanted to see something new. We had seen YouTube videos from several of the nomads that we follow that recommended the Ajo area, so we decided to check it out. Turns out there is a lot of free BLM camping in the area, and the town of Ajo has a lot of historical significance as well as an art scene to explore.

It’s always a little bit stressful to drive out into the desert to a place you’ve never been before, especially when you’re driving your house. It does help that there are websites and apps where you can get information, recommendations and photos of the places where you’re considering camping. But you just never know until you get there. Usually, our biggest concern with boondocking is whether or not the road will be too rough for the Prius because of how low to the ground it is. Fortunately, all the information we found on this spot was correct–it’s fine for both the rig and the car even though the road is washboardy (is that a word?). We had no trouble finding a level spot and getting set up.

Our spot is on Darby Well Road, right where it turns into Bates Well Road. There are maybe eight or ten other rigs parked in here, all spaced far enough apart to give everyone their privacy. We are about 43 miles from the US/Mexico border, so there are a lot of Border Patrol vehicles driving by. And we’re only about five minutes from the plaza in Ajo, which we’re looking forward to exploring tomorrow. We’re also just next door to the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range, and I’m told that there are a lot of jets that fly over from time to time. So far we’ve only heard them and not seen them.

Our latest campsite just outside of Ajo, Arizona, near the New Cornelia Mine.

But the most significant feature out here is the huge abandoned pit mine that is just across the road from us. Of course it’s fenced in, and all we can see from here is the impressive mound of tailings that were extracted from the mountainside. When we go into Ajo, we will drop by the visitor’s center where there is an overlook that provides a great view of the interior of the pit mine, as well as a museum that tells the history of the area. Really looking forward to that!

My guess is that we’ll stay here for three or four nights, depending on how soon we need to dump the tanks. After that, our plan is to head to the Tombstone/Bisbee area for some more exploration!

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in the RV lifestyle. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/Suzanne.Hight if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

One thought on “On the Move From Yuma to Ajo, Arizona

  1. “Washboardy” may not be a word, but it’s certainly meaningful and descriptive. Y’all are soaking up the sunshine and heat we’d like to have here in IN. We’re hoping spring will soon follow the robins that have already begun to make their appearance.


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