The Old Girl Got Us There and Back Again: LR3 Overlanding in New Mexico and Colorado


I was reminiscing about our late summer trip and thought it might be nice to post here, so fellow Land Rover owners, or those considering the platform, can see the vehicle out where it belongs, possibly in different part of the world.
This was a 9 day trip (2 days highway travel and 7 days of mostly trails). We explored Big Bend last winter, where the Rio Grande defines so much of the landscape and culture. When planning for a summer escape from the Phoenix heat, we noticed that the areas of New Mexico and Colorado where we were planning to explore roughly followed the arc of the Rio Grande, and we came up with a loose theme of checking in on the northern part of the Rio Grande - all the way to its headwaters in the San Juan mountains.
This trip made me appreciate again the versatility of the LR3: it's great for blasting down the highway at 75 mph, allowing us comfortably travel from Phoenix to the Jemez Mountains near Sante Fe in a single day. And then it's also a great platform for overlanding / camping / exploring for 7 days in remote, beautiful, rugged country.
Here are some photos highlighting the vehicle and the trip:

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Sunrise in the Jemez Mountains - first campsite after a full day's drive from Phoenix. We're not in Phoenix anymore; my wife is wearing a coat!

Forest Road skirting the Valles Caldera. Nice and smooth here, but 5 min later, we were in low range, lifted mode, carefully picking a line through a rock garden.

One of our favorite dispersed sites - on the banks of the Rio Chama (near Abiquiu, NM -- Georgia O'Keeffe country).

The dawn of a beautiful day on the Rio Chama (good coffee just makes it better)!

Another nice campsite on the Rio Chiquito (near Taos)

Rio Grande gorge, north of Taos.

Medano Pass Trail starts at the Great Sand Dunes National Park (tallest dunes in the US) and goes over the Sangre de Cristo range

I got a kick out of the sign "Point of no return"!

Backcountry camping off of Medano Pass - some monsoon rains this day.

Alpine section of Medano Pass

Bishop's Castle in the middle of nowhere in CO - a funky, interesting, amazing building and story

As we headed up into the mountains, the Rio Grande became a mountain stream

We parked here and hiked toward where the Rio Grande first appears on our Benchmark Atlas

I stand astride the mighty Rio Grande

Here's a link to a photo-narrative trip report, in case anybody is interested in seeing/reading more.

-> "A Rio Good Trip - Checking in on the Rio Grande From New Mexico to Colorado"



Nice! great places to see, I've always wondered what it was like to be small enough to sleep in the back of a vehicle.


The fold-flat rear seats and large(ish) rear cargo space are a plus for the LR3. I'm lucky that my wife enjoys dispersed camping, but when camping in bear area, she pretty much insists on sleeping inside the vehicle. We can fit a megamat duo in the back (77.6 x 52 x 4in ).

I roll the sleeping pad and everything up for daytime travel:

Then it's a quick job to roll it out and inflate when we get to where we're camping ("insta-bed")!


I love my LR Tent. Mine is starting to show wear after 13 years and looking for someone who might be letting go of a gently used one.

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did ya manage a soak in any of the Jemez hot springs while you were in that neighborhood?

that one pic looked like you were just upstream from STONY PASS

that Rio Grande crossing can go from inches to feet deep in a heartbeat




Awesome trip! Thank's for sharing! I love trips that have a little bit of purpose as well. Makes it more fun.

I sleep in the back of mine as well and the hatch tent is great idea. I might need to invest.

Nice! great places to see, I've always wondered what it was like to be small enough to sleep in the back of a vehicle.
It's roughly 6.5' from the hatch to the front seat. How tall are you? :eek: :ROFLMAO:


Another trip that needs to come with a map and waypoints so we can see those amazing places!
Hi Victory, glad you enjoyed! I usually plan routes and have gpx files for each day, but for this trip, we winged it, although we did have a list of interesting sights, places, and trails to explore if our travels took us there. The plan was to spend some time each evening making a plan for the next day. In the end, we probably hit fewer than half the sites and trails on the list, but we also found many new and interesting places. We did hit our Spot device every night, so I'll add that info to the Trip report in case it can help anybody else planning adventures to the area.
Here's that link again for the Trip Report:

Consulting the Benchmark Atlas, making next-day plans with the light from the moon and campfire.

did ya manage a soak in any of the Jemez hot springs while you were in that neighborhood?

that one pic looked like you were just upstream from STONY PASS
Hi Tatanka, Yes! we did find some some hot springs in the Jemez area. That was certainly a highlight.

Relaxing break from the dusty trail!
And yes, good eye. We took Stony Pass trail to the headwaters of the Rio Grande. It was a fun, scenic trail, and then we met friends for pizza and beer in Silverton at the end of the trail.

6'6" and just under 4' at the shoulders.......
We sometimes sleep with the tailgate open, just for a bit more open feeling, but yeah, with your dimensions, you're probably not sleeping inside most SUVs.