This is not a campground per se. It is a boon dock area. Belle does not charge, but much appreciates a donations of money, or help on the ranch. You need to be self-contained, but it is an experience you will not soon forget. You will LOVE Belle. We camped here in a Motorhome.
This little 40 acre ranch is a step back to days of old: old wood on the Belle Starr cabin, old fashioned campfire at night, old school attitude about hard work and pride. We stumbled upon a listing for the ranch during a search for ‘free campgrounds’, and decided to check it out. When we arrived, the gate was closed and there were a couple of campers on site within view of the highway, so we let ourselves through the gate and approached the house. A little western lady rolled up to the door who turned out to be Ms Belle Starr herself. She directed us to camp wherever we wanted, and she would talk with us the next morning about what ranch chores there were to do (which we asked for). The ranch is situated about 6 air miles from the Mexico border, and has seen illegals crossing the land in years past- although Belle reports it’s been a couple of years since she’s seen any unwelcome visitors. Maybe they’re not coming anymore because of the heavy Border Patrol presence? Along the roadway, the BP comes along about every 8th vehicle- whether it’s vans, tahoes, pickups, 4 wheelers or aircraft- they are every very active in this area. At night, we were treated to no less than 2 close by flyovers as the BP studied every inch of the land surrounding the Silverado Ranch (it seemed). Looked like the Close Encounters of the Third Kind scene when the spaceship lands with all of the spotlights and dramatic noise and flashing lights- it leaves an impression of power when they fly over and take a look at you. We didn’t see anyone crouched in the median or running across the highway, but I’ll guess that it happens. So that being said, and reading reports of the history of border issues, safety would be a consideration to think about when visiting. Belle calls her land a safe place to say, and she’s been here for 18 years, so I guess she knows best. The morning after we arrived, Belle laid out some projects that needed doing, and since it was only her, and us on the property (the campers were empty)- we had the esteemed privilege of haying the horses and clearing the yard and cleaning up the campfire ring and building a fountain… Those were exactly what kind of projects we hoped to be able to take part in when we arrived! Our timing was in step with her helper being out of town, so the horses did get fed. With Belle in a wheelchair following her unfortunate fall and hip injury a year ago, she isn’t physically able to throw the hay herself any longer (so she would appreciate you stopping by). It sounds like she does have help lined up when no one is camping and volunteering, so you could just pull in and sit in a chair, but why? This is really a great chance to get involved and make a contribution. No horse experience necessary (but it would be helpful). Speaking of horses, Belle has a beautiful Clydesdale that can pull her modern stagecoach- if you know how to hitch it and drive him. There’s a stable of miniature donkeys, and a collection of healthy horses that enjoy carrots more than conversation with visitors, but will put up with you if that’s what it takes to eat the orange treats. Throw in the pair of peacocks, chickens (including early rising roosters), and gentle dogs- and you’ve got a nice collection of ranch animals just waiting for you to stop by. Remember, we visited with our 7 children, and every one of them enjoyed the time here immensely. The unsupervised, close up contact with these animals is unlike any other stop we’ve made and places the responsibility for handling the animals properly, on YOU. Study up! Belle has all of the answers if you ask her on one of her ventures outside the house on her electric scooter, but she’s not always right there to chat with. Make a point to change your ranch schedule when you see her, and listen to her rich stories about this place, her grand plans, and her colorful history. She’s ‘sailed with the jet set’, managed Nashville acts, written #1 C&W songs, married into the mafia (briefly) and left it all when she found this little slice of desert that called her 18 years ago. Belle is a generous woman, to the point of suffering herself to give to others. She raves about the relationships she’s made meeting campers here from around the world- who stay anywhere from one night to several weeks or months. She welcomes anyone to visit, but has realized that she can’t give everything away forever, and it looks like she’s setting some guidelines for visitors to know what to expect when they get here. It will still be free to visit for a few days, but with upgrades to sewer and water, she would appreciate a donation to help offset the cost of those projects. Check before you visit for the current status of this free camping opportunity. For what we took away from the Silverado Ranch, we’d have paid up front, and still do the chores for the life experience that cannot normally be bought. Thanks Belle! We love your ranch, and will tell our friends to visit. Belle Starr’s Silverado Ranch is located on Highway 80 right at mile marker 353. It’s just 12 miles from Douglas, about halfway between Douglas and Bisbee, Arizona. On site, there is well water, sewer dumping but no electric service or trash collection. She’s working the bugs out of the WiFi, but hopes to offer that to visitors. Expect to stay for a few days for free if you help out with ranch chores, or make a donation to her and help feed the animals. Someone posted a suggested donation sign that lists a day at 10., a week stay at 50. and a month at 150. I’ve heard of people that stayed a few days and left a hundred dollars. If you’re a cowboy or know ranch life well enough to do it (and not just talk about it), Belle would like to talk with you about an opportunity that may never cross your path again. We posted several photos on our trip blog: www.ourBigtrip.us In the end, we left a couple of hundred dollars and bought some ranch supplies, but you wouldn't have to. Belle was good with accepting 'thanks' and a hand with chores, or a few dollars a night- just don't take advantage of this little lady. We camped here in a Motorhome.