Camping, Campfires, and Getting About on the Trails Oh My!
Many of the trails you see through this fragile environment are well worn. In one season, a new path can form and take decades to repair.
Please stay on the paths and camp only in designated areas. There are likely to be gardens mottled throughout the land in unlikely places, as well as trees as small as a few inches high that are part of our reforestation project. Several paths lead into the camping areas.
Try to camp close to the path to avoid destroying the soil crusts & plant life, which has little tolerance for trampling and, in some cases, can take decades to reestablish. If you would like more information on the abundant yet extremely fragile cryptobiotic lifeforms on the land, please ask a Steward. Never drive or park your car off the road. Designated parking spots are easy to find.
This arid climate experiences its share of wildfires, which can destroy an area our size in less than a day. So, before lighting a fire anywhere, you must check with one of us.
Campfires / Bonfires are allowed only in Authorized Fire pits / Stoves with sufficient water barrels. Also, be cautious when smoking.
We have a designated smoking area, with plenty of containers for proper disposal of flammable materials. We request that you smoke in that area only, especially during “High” fire danger.
Carry out what you carry in. If you plan to leave something behind consider containers that are reusable. We do not have municipal garbage or recycling pick-up, so mindfulness and forethought keeps things easier for the maintaining the natural beauty by offering to carry out an extra load of trash if you are able. Recycling cans are located near the tool shed, providing a place for plastics, brown glass, green glass, clear glass, paper and metal. Think green & give us a hand with this important responsibility.
It’s a good idea to keep in mind that whatever you put down our sink is dumped onto the land, almost at surface level. We request that you use only biodegradable products (ie. Burts, Dr. Bronners, Kiss My Face, anything labeled “Free & Clear”). Even “non-natural” commercial toothpastes and shaving lotions contain trace quantities of petroleum products, which, over time, will harm the environment. We will provide biodegradable soap and may have other natural toiletries available. Please remember: on fragile land such as ours, a little bit of responsible consumption goes a long way. Maintaining balance in the desert has different considerations than in most other environments.
Please report any emergencies to a steward. The nearest medical services are 40+ minutes away. Two hours away is the nearest, major city: Albuquerque. If you simply need a Band-Aid or dose of aspirin, we have an infirmary set up for day-to-day first aid needs. See a Steward for first aid box locations.
Well, it may not look like it, but you are 7,200 feet high in the Zuni Mountains. The sanctuary is situated on a little over 300 acres of land with rich-sodden arroyos cutting through the property. Lands to the east, west, and south of ZMS are private property. Please do not cross these fences. Want to hike? Directly north of Sanctuary land is the Cibola National Forest, which includes thousands of acres of semiarid forest. The hike to the top of the mountains takes 3-5 hours.
Here are just a few things to keep in mind:
- If you’re not used to being at high altitudes, you may want to take it slow for a couple of days & rest often.
- Remember to drink plenty of water.
- Remember to breathe.
- Remember to drink plenty of water.
Some visitors may experience a mild headache or nosebleed. Do not worry. If you experience more severe symptoms, like major shortness of breath or heart palpitations lasting longer than an hour, PLEASE contact a resident immediately.
Note the arid climate.
The dry heat and strong sun will tend to tucker you out a little quicker. Seek shade. Rest when needed. Drink plenty of water! As you bask in the sun, don’t forget the temperature will plummet as the sun goes down, so prepare to dress warmly or cuddle up. Preparing layers of clothing to bring with you prior to sundown also helps. Clothing is optional, but be aware of weather & bug seasons to make your visit more enjoyable.
We discourage bringing your pets. To avoid pet dramas, please leave pets at home.
Animals On The Land & Can I Bring My Little Darling Pet?
You may encounter wild animals on the land or in the adjacent National Forest area. We have seen signs of mountain lions, bears, and bobcats. Elk and deer occasionally come here to graze and, of course, you will hear the call of coyotes or wild dogs almost nightly. We have several different species of snakes, including rattlesnakes, which are the only poisonous ones of the bunch and will give you fair warning with their distinctive rattle sound. Respectful humans are generally free of danger, but when leaving the land, you may want to consider going in groups of two or more.
If you must bring your familiar with you for spiritual or other health related reasons, **you will be expected to keep it contained or on a leash at all times.**When you arrive at ZMS you will notice that we already have furry friends running around. The land animals are already acclimated to this environment and to one another. They provide us with both safety (walking visitors to their tent sites, catching mice) and companionship that is essential for living in such a remote location.
We respect the animals here, both wild and domestic and seek to foster better accord between them and those living on the land. If you need to bring your pet with you, & if problems should arise, the community on the land will ask that the visitor find an alternative for boarding their pets.
Water consciousness is multi-faceted in the desert; each with ideal uses and considerations. We use water from catchment sources for gardens (lower mineral content) and bathing – as it is generally softer than land water. Currently catchment water is not suitable for human consumption as it has contact with roofs, bird excrement and possible bacteria. Our drinking water comes from a well. Any water that comes from faucets or blue-handled spigots on the land is drinkable.
During the Summer, hot water for showering is available during daylight hours (on sunny days) via our solar water heater, which feeds the outdoor shower located between the common house and Camp Hill. Personal sponge bathing is also a possibility in most of the indoor spaces; see a resident so we can better accommodate your preferences. An indoor hot water shower is available; please do not hesitate to ask.
For your health and that of everyone else….please wash your hands frequently.
Breakfast is usually “help yourself” although it is preferred during busy (or warm day) times to limit the need to go into the walk-in cooler space.
We serve primarily vegetarian food at our gatherings, and we promote an atmosphere where diet needs are met where necessary. If you have any other special dietary needs or food allergies, please tell a Steward.
+++ Generally, we circle together before dinner and sometimes before lunch.+++
ZMS is a healing sanctuary and safe space. We respect visitors and residents who are on paths of sobriety. We ask visitors to uphold a community wellness code of honor around alcohol & drug use; in other words, if you bring distilled or fermented spirits, please be responsible and contain your beverage in a “shrouded” vessel or private camping space.
Do not leave any alcoholic beverages of any kind in public areas. The primary intention around this issue is having fun while respecting others.
ZMS abides by all State and Federal Laws regarding illegal substances.
We DO NOT tolerate abuse of any kind.
We strongly encourage you to fully enjoy your time at the Sanctuary by minimizing electronic communications.
With the closest AT&T cell tower located 23 miles away we generally do not get good cell reception where we are so plan to wrap up any needed communication before visiting the land. There are spotty areas where cell signal may be obtained – if you need to make a call, please ask a Steward for more information. If you need to make a call, we may have a landline able to call anywhere in the USA. For international calls, please use your own calling cards.
There is limited Wi-Fi service in the Studio to check email…but don’t plan on watching any movies. Please see a Steward for more information.
If you are driving we ask that you kindly leave your car in the parking circle or the RV Park during gathering times. While visiting, if you’re planning on going to town (Ramah – 10 miles away, Gallup / Grants – each are 1 hour away, Albuquerque – 2 hours), give us a holler. There may be others with town needs, emergencies or for shuttle pick-ups.
Carpools save energy and also “wear and tear” on the roads. Also, it’s common practice in these parts to give a friendly wave to local folks along the road. The locals really do appreciate us in these parts and see us as a valuable asset to our larger community.
And don’t drive too fast and leave clouds of dust in your wake.
Directions can be found here.