A year ago this month, I was hanging out in New Mexico, enjoying the desert landscapes. Some people might be heading to the great Southwest this winter, so here’s a few of my favorite places from 2017. And for those of us who aren’t going west this winter, here’s some ideas to dream about over the winter.
About as far north as we’re going to get in this post is central New Mexico and Elephant Butte State Park. Bring your kayak or paddleboard, it’s a big lake. Most of the spots have hookups, but are not on the waterfront. Those sites that are right on the lake are sans electricity, but if it’s sunny and you have solar, you can make it work. Oh, and the hot springs of Truth or Consequences are about 30 minutes away, and definitely worth the drive.
In southern New Mexico, hard up against the Sacramento Mountains and about 8 miles south of Alamogordo is my favorite state park, Oliver Lee. There’s one loop of hookups and a whole lot of sites on the periphery without them, but those are the ones with the best views, where you can see 50 miles or more to the west. On a clear day, you can see the thin line of White Sands National Monument. Birds sing you awake in the mornings and the stars overhead lull you to sleep at night. It’s a magical place to me.
To the west is Rockhound State Park, a tiny little campground southeast of Deming. There are some lovely short hikes around the park and the scenery is gorgeous. If you get one of the higher campsites, you can see for miles. I once watched a dust storm approaching for more than an hour, only to see it fade away before it reached the campground.
About an hour’s drive north from Deming is City of Rocks State Park. (If you’re getting the idea that this part of New Mexico is very rocky, well done!) The hookup sites are like an RV park – all lined up next to each other. If you can live without hookups, go for one of the dry sites and you’ll find yourself surrounded by huge rocks and desert silence.
There are several hiking trails that highlight the views but maybe the best part of this place is the hot springs campground next door. You can drive five minutes over to the spot (you’ll pass it on the way to the City of Rocks campground) and make a reservation for a private hot springs hour or two,. It’s wonderful. I camped there for a few nights, and there’s a free “campers only” hot springs pool (with medium hot and hot water options).
I’ll leave you with a moonlit view of Rockhound State Park. On moonless nights, the stars are amazing, so you really can’t lose either way, moon or no moon.
I had been to New Mexico many times. I loved it. It’s a very exotic, interesting, severely crazy environment. I don’t know if I could live there all year. It’s such an intense place.