OK ramble to New Mexico

My kid's summer vacation snuck up on us before we made a solid plan for him so we ended up with a two week gap between school and the first summer camp. I figured we could fill one of those weeks with a father/son trip in the truck. Going solo I didn't want to get into any gnarly wheeling, we live in NW Arkansas not terribly far off the Transamerica Trail route. I got to studying the OK sections of the trail and noticed a volcano to check out in NE New Mexico, my 6yo son thought that visiting a volcano was an excellent idea. The plan fell together pretty easy: we'd spend a couple of days driving the TAT across OK, check out Capulin volcano, head to a great remote campsite in NM, then iron butt back across OK to Arkansas.

Little buddy ready was ready to roll.

Back road attraction before we got on the "trail"

Rode about a hundred miles of these kind of roads. Spent the first night at Great Salt Plains SP.

Day two and OK started looking more "out west".

We ended out in the Black Mesa area at the western tip of the OK panhandle. Planning ahead for a big third day I had reserved a room at Black Mesa Bed & Breakfast, really wanted a nice shower and be able to hit the road early.

Staying at the B&B ended out being a very wise move, one hell of a storm rolled through that night. I'm sure we would have weathered it fine in the tent but wouldn't have got near as good sleep. Overall the B&B was excellent and would recommend it if you're traveling through the area and want a break from camping.
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Hit the road early the next morning, found ourselves in New Mexico about 15 minutes away from the B&B.

This was the most direct route to Capulin from Black Mesa and also the one that Google maps didn't want to suggest. This decision rewarded us with some beautiful views and 17 miles of corrugated dirt road.

Made it to our big destination, the views were outstanding from the rim.

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Now it was time to turn around and head back east. Spent the better part of the morning drive exploring dirt roads in the Kiowa Grassland.

Spent the last night of the trip at the Army Corps of Engineers campground at Fort Supply OK. It wasn't the most serene place in the world but the showers were nice and our spot was tucked away in a nice alcove we had to ourselves.

Last day was a pretty uneventful highway grind back to Arkansas. Not a bad way to spend five days IMO.

As kind of a side note, within hours of getting home I got violently sick from an apparent tick borne illness that must have been brewing in my body the whole trip. Like rush to the ER sick. I'm fine now but realized if that had happened on the trip, especially if it had happened in Mills Canyon, it could have been a very dangerous situation. My "comms" consist of a cell phone and a cb, both were useless on big swaths of the trip. Taking this as a wake up call to get my ham license and maybe investing in a spot or inreach before heading out like that again .


Do you have GPX files of your trip? I'm driving out to NM from MA next summer and it'd be cool to pick up the TAT in OK and take it into NM
I pretty much stuck to the TAT route to Boise City before deviating from it, here is my route from Black Mesa to Mills Canyon.
No technical driving on this route but the scenery is beautiful. About the first 14 miles into New Mexico is pretty corrugated though, air down for comfort there.

That is a cool area thanks for sharing the pictures!
Planning on getting back out there on my kids spring break this year.


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Looks like it was a good time!
We've stopped at Capulin on our way to Colorado from Texas before, it does have great views. I was also amazed by the number of rattlers up there. When we got down into the center of the volcano it was all we could hear. Suffice to say we didn't stay long.