Getting out in the open - Albuquerque Journal

Getting out in the open

Mujeres Valley Campground will offer three upcoming Nature Discovery Tours. (Courtesy of the Mujeres Valley Campground)

Somewhere south and west of El Malpais National Monument – in an area many city folks would think there is not a lot there – sits Mujeres Valley Campground.

The area is a rugged, 20-acre site open to everything from tents to recreational vehicles, which makes the area such a welcoming escape from the urban grind.

Overhead in the meadows stars loom at large at night.

Pine tree canopies deliver welcome shade and a haven for indigenous wildlife.

Golden sunsets stretch across unbroken terrain that has essentially been left in its original, untainted state.

Here, campground owners and life partners Cristina “IxChel” Mooney and Daniel Mooney, Los Angeles escapees, have made it their mission to carve their own homesteading niche while providing a respite and educational opportunity for others.

Toward the latter end, they have three Nature Discovery Tours coming up at campground.

“Typically, we pretty much meet with groups of people and walk through the campground,” IxChel Mooney said. “It’s 20 acres. It’s expansive and daunting to people because we haven’t really carved out paths for nature trails.”

Instead, it is more of a wild experience of wandering through the trees and volcanic hillocks, free of societal constraints, she said.

“We personally walk with people, show them around campground so they can find out where they’re at and give them reference points to be able to get back to where they started,” Mooney said.

Mujeres Valley Campground will host an upcoming Forest Fiesta in August. (Courtesy of the Mujeres Valley Campground)

A visit “can be life-changing, really,” she said. “A lot of people have that experience. We see a lot of shooting stars out here and I think it’s underappreciated for how dark it is.”

The couple first bought the land in 2018, totaling 67 acres, using the remainder for homesteading.

“We didn’t have any experience farming or starting a farming ranch but we built the house with our own hands,” Mooney said. “Now we have eight dogs, 13 chickens and four cats. We’re starting small on the farming front and we want to expand into goats to continue my family’s legacy of making cheese. I don’t want that to die out. It’s a generational journey. We’re doing things we were called to do even though it’s not conventional. We just kind of want to encourage people who feel different and want to go down a different path.”

The campground played host to a grand-opening festival in the spring, and coming up on Aug. 12-13, the Forest Fiesta will be filled with comedy, music, food, local artistic vendors and more.

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