Rusty’s RV Ranch is located in the town of Rodeo, New Mexico, specifically in a valley between two mountains. The property is notably located near the Chiricahua National Monument. Other draws to the area include hiking, astronomy, and “birding,” which the property describes to be bird watching. The current owner says that she set up the property to be primarily geared towards astronomers and those going bird-watching. There are 40 RV sites available for reservation, as well as 15 dry camping sites and two rentals. On the 50-acre property, there are various features, such as a duck pond, koi pond, aviary garden, an orchard, and a goat pen. All the animals on the land are provided for guests to interact with, especially if they are unable to go bird-watching in the mountains. Rusty’s RV Ranch is open year-round, with the best season of operation falling between the months of September to May.
The town of Rodeo, New Mexico, is home to Rusty’s RV Ranch. About 50 acres of land make up the ranch, and it is adorned with 40 RV sites that include full hookups and 15 sites that are designated as dry campsites, meaning there are no utilities included at the site. The RV sites, according to the owner, “are not [like] your standard RV park. You are next to your neighbor, but they are at least ten feet away from your rig.” Due to the relatively large amount of space, the establishment deems itself “big-rig friendly.” There are two additional rental accommodations available for patrons. These rentals include an astronomers pad that has electrical telescopes available for visitor use.
On the premises, multiple areas are designated for specific activities such as swimming, a swim spa, and a clubhouse. Twice a week during the winter months, the clubhouse hosts potlucks for all guests staying on the property. The clubhouse is also where a kitchenette, showers, and laundry are located. Other features on the grounds of the property include multiple gardens, including an aviary garden, walking paths around the park, a duck pond, orchards, a picnic area, and various animals living on the land. Such fauna includes black swans, goats, porcupines, and other “critters,” says the owner. All animals are owned by the business allowing patrons the opportunity to interact with said creatures. The owner mentions that the “little zoo” they have set up is primarily geared toward their guests, some of which are “senior citizens” that aren’t always able “to do all the hiking to be able to go birding (bird-watching).” With all this in mind, the aviary gardens and various animals are meant to substitute that experience. “We cater to birding [and] we cater to astronomers,” says the owner when describing how they have set up their establishment.
The valley in which the Rusty’s RV Ranch is located is “geared towards astronomers,” says the owner, which means the area is supposed to respect the dark skies and not add additional light pollution to the atmosphere. Specifically, the RV park asks that all guests use red light flashlights to reduce light pollution. For those that come to the area for birding, the business can provide them with a bird-watching map that includes what they deem “hotspots” for spotting birds. Also on the map are various sight-seeing spots as well as additional history of the area and the various pictographs drawn on rocks by natives to the area years ago. Chiricahua National Monument is another attraction to the Rodeo area that sits between two mountains.
On the grounds of Rusty’s RV Ranch, there are various activities and animals to see. As mentioned before, animals such as birds in the aviary, goats, iguanas, and black swans are kept on the property to cater specifically to the “birding” and astronomer demographic that typically visit the ranch. The owner says that one of their goals in providing such features is to “give [visitors] the best experience we have to offer” during their stay. One thing the property does to enable this at their property is to putting patrons staying at the property for bird-watching in one area of the park and astronomers in another so they can all be together. Additionally, she also tries to do this with those coming to hunt so that if they leave early in the morning, their headlights won't disturb astronomers trying to view the sky. The owner says that they are trying to find “that happy balance of different personalities that come to [our] business.”
The biggest goal the owner has for anybody who stays at her business is that they feel “at home and like family.” With all the property does for its clientele, the owner says they have high interactions with their guests throughout the week. Patrons have been found to leave reviews about the hospitality of the establishment, with one such guest saying, “The staff here is very helpful and very friendly.” Another previous visitor to Rusty’s RV Ranch remarked, “The owner has spent a lot of time, effort, and money fixing this place up. We loved the koi pond, its menagerie birds, porcupines, relaxation, and walks. Sites and RVs were huge, and quite a few trees provided some shade.”
Rusty’s RV Ranch is open year-round, with the busiest season of operation falling between September to May. Activities popular in the Rodeo, New Mexico area include geocaching, hiking or biking trails, and riding in ATVs on various trails. One specific attraction to the area includes the Chiricahua Desert Museum, which features a live exhibit of animals native to the area. The owner recommends her visitors to stop by some restaurants in the area, including Portal Lodge, Sky Island, and a café located in town.
Policies set out by Rusty’s RV Ranch include keeping pets on a leash at all times, picking up after oneself, and not keeping porch lights on after dark. The property is an “open range,” meaning that various types of wildlife may enter the property. The owner says that things the property does are geared towards “catering to the customer on a regular basis. We try to reach every customer’s needs.” She says that this goal they have created for their property has made them successful throughout the years.
Rusty’s RV Ranch has been owned and operated by the current owners since 2006. Not only are they the current owners of the business, but they are also the original owners. Adding all the buildings on the property has happened during the owner’s time there, and she says that she continues to make improvements to the land every year. Before the land was converted into a campground, it was used as a “rodeo,” says the owner, which is Spanish for “round-up.” According to the owner, the land had railroad tracks that led to a “booming little town” that featured cattle ranches.
The owner says that camping is how she grew up; specifically, she says that “my mom and dad have been doing it since I was little.” Once her parents retired, they entered the lodging industry and eventually led her to pursue the same career. “This industry was perfect [for me],” she says.