I’ll be honest. Moving mid-summer totally cramped my style last year. We only went on one camping trip (albeit an awesome one), and while I went hiking quite a bit, I stuck closer to home and to easier trails while I was reacclimatizing. But with a new summer nearly upon us, I’ve whipped up a bucket list that is sure to make this summer an epic one. Without further ado, I present my Summer 2017 Bucket List!

Camp at the Cosmic Campground in the Gila Wilderness

How amazing does this place sound?! The newbie astrophotographer in me is dying to camp here on a moonless night to see just how many stars my camera can capture. The Gila Wilderness is one of the world’s first designated wilderness areas and is one of the most remote-feeling places I’ve ever been. I can’t wait to spend more time exploring the area.

Astrophotography stars over Bernalillo New Mexico

My second attempt at Astrophotography, looking west towards Bernalillo from Perdiz Canyon in Placitas. Featuring lots o’ light pollution.

Hike to a hot spring

I can’t believe I haven’t done this since moving back home. New Mexico is brimming with amazing hot springs, both wild and developed. Hiking to a hot spring always feels like a treasure hunt, where the bounty is a trickling oasis hidden far from civilization. Pure desert magic.

Take a road trip to Durango, Colorado

I love Durango’s vibe. It’s one of my favorite Colorado mountain towns, and it’s only three and a half hours from Albuquerque. Steph has been wanting to take a trip there on her motorcycle, so I’ll probably just follow her up in the Land Cruiser. Win-win!

Hike all nine quadrants in the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Wild Guide

My mom is the Membership Coordinator for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and gifted me with a copy of their Wild Guide for Christmas. This 255 page guide is packed with beautiful photos and information on New Mexico’s varied wilderness areas, along with info on climate, geography, hiking guides, and history. In short, it’s an AWESOME resource, and I’ve decided to take on the challenge of doing a hike from all nine quadrants listed in the guide. These include the Jemez Mountains, the Central Rio Grande, Western New Mexico, the Datil-Mogollon Volcanic Plateau, the East Central Region, the South Central Desert Region, the Desert Southwest, and the Desert Southeast. I think it will be a really fun way to see more of this state, push myself to hike new trails this summer, and also develop a greater understanding, appreciation, and awareness of the crucial role endangered wilderness areas play in this state. This challenge may bleed into Fall/Winter because I have a day job, but I’m cool with that!

Camp at White Sands National Monument

I did this when I was twelve and 80% unaware of how truly incredible the experience was. All I remember is barrel-rolling down a dune in the dark over and over again with my sister, so I am itching to camp here again now that I fully appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of White Sands. There’s nowhere else like it in the world, nor an experience quite like spending the night on stark white dunes under a flood of moonlight.

Not my photo! Found on this awesome blog: http://northtosouth.us/

Go caving

Or spelunking, as non-cavers say. I spent almost 10 years volunteering for the National Speleological Society as a kid, spending my long weekends restoring sections of delicate formations with a toothbrush deep within Carlsbad Caverns, and the experience had a profound impact on my kid self. It’s been at least 7 years since I’ve been underground, so Steph and I are looking forward to getting involved with the local Sandia Grotto branch of the NSS, hopefully joining them for at least one caving trip this summer!

My last time underground, somewhere in Carlsbad, 2010

Climb Cabezon Peak

It’s hard to miss this 7,785 ft volcanic plug that punctuates the horizon west of Albuquerque, and I want to hike to the top of it. ‘Nough said.

Also not my photo! Found here.

Ghost Town Road Trip

Few things fascinate me more than ghost towns, so this is definitely happening this summer. New Mexico is dotted with old ghost towns, some more preserved than others, and exploring them (when you’re not being held verbally hostage by a ghost town resident named Dan – story for another day) is so much fun. The photo opportunities! The weird stuff we might find! I can’t wait to map out a little route that will take us through several in a day or weekend, and get exploring.

Mogollon New Mexico

A partially restored building in weirdo Mogollon, a ghost town in the Gila National Wilderness.

Camp at Elk Creek Campground, Colorado

This campground sits a little over 3 hours from Albuquerque, in Southern Colorado’s San Juan forest. I mostly want to camp here again with my sister for nostalgia’s sake, as it was the spot my dad used to take us camping at almost every summer as kids, and some of my favorite memories of my dad took place here

Camp and Explore Cedar Mesa in Utah

Cedar Mesa is a large plateau in Southestern Utah, near four corners. It’s home to a series of well-preserved and hidden ancient Anasazi ruins and weird geological features like arches, hoodoos and such. After seeing the photos my mom took from her trip here last summer, I am dying to pay the area a visit. I’m picturing a big group camping trip, with friends and family sitting around the campfire after a day of hiking and exploring ruins. Yes, please.

Gah, how amazing does this look?!?? Photo c/o Lois Manno

Go Kayaking

Before we moved to Alaska, Steph and I used to drive around New Mexico with her tandem sit-atop kayak tied to the top of the car, hunting out the best lakes and reservoirs to paddle around in. Yes, the pickin’s are slim in NM, but we still had a blast on these trips. They also spurred our love of sea kayaking in Alaska, which I miss dearly. Spending time on the water is a perfect way to cool off on hot (read: melt your skin off) summer days!

Tacoma and Kayak

Ah, this makes me so nostalgic! 7 years ago with Steph, pre-falling in love.

Explore Glacier National Park

As I mentioned in this post, I’m photographing the wedding of friends this September in GLACIER NATIONAL PARK! #dreamlife. Steph and I haven’t yet decided if we’re flying up to Montana or road tripping it, but it’s sure to be an epic trip and I plan on making the most of my time at this absolute gem of a National Park. Swoon!

Photo credit holy wow.

Of course, there are dozens of other things I’d like to do that didn’t make this list! I have no doubt that this Spring/Summer will be the best yet, full of fun, quality time spent in the sun with friends and family, all while loving on this incredible planet we get to call home.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

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Written by Sara
Desert dwelling nature lover. Forever striving to live a life of adventure, wholeheartedness, and curiosity.