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Wed May 22, 2013, 06:15 PM

Favorite New Mexico State Park?

Last edited Wed May 22, 2013, 07:05 PM - Edit history (1)

My husband and I only have about one more month in New Mexico before we need to start heading East. We'll be back this Fall but, for now, we're having trouble trying to decide which park to stay in next. (We're in a motorhome.)

So far, we've been to Bottomless Lakes and Sumner Lake. We really liked both of those. We're in Santa Rosa now but at a private campground. We drove up to Santa Rosa State Park today to check it out and were kind of disappointed. It might have just been our mood (not feeling well) but the sites seemed tiny and close together and the lake was down so low you could barely see it.

So...I just thought I'd throw out this question and see if anyone here has a favorite New Mexico State Park. We try to keep our travel days down to about a hundred miles but there are several state parks in that radius. We're considering Manzano Mountains, Villanueva, Storrie Lake and Conchas Lake. Anybody been to any of these or know of another nearby that we might like?

Thanks in advance. I'm sorry I've been kind of monopolizing the New Mexico group lately.

Edited to add: I wasn't clear about why we're focusing on State Parks. We have an annual pass where we can camp (with pur RV) with hook-ups for $4 a night so we're looking for state parks that have nice campgrounds. We stay at each park for a week or two and explore the area and then move to another state park.

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Favorite New Mexico State Park? (Original post)
pamela May 2013 OP
Warpy May 2013 #1
pamela May 2013 #3
likesmountains 52 May 2013 #2
marybourg May 2013 #4
King_Klonopin May 2013 #5
womanofthehills May 2013 #7
womanofthehills May 2013 #6
pamela May 2013 #8
Quixote1818 May 2013 #9
pamela May 2013 #10
womanofthehills May 2013 #11
pamela May 2013 #12
pamela Jun 2013 #13

Response to pamela (Original post)

Wed May 22, 2013, 06:32 PM

1. If you can travel just a bit more, consider Bandelier National Monument

Like most NM parks, the improvements are pretty Spartan, but there are cliff houses cut into the tuff (rock from volcanic ash falls from a nearby supervolcano) and it's a truly beautiful area. The drive between San Ysidro and Los Alamos is wonderful, miles of red rocks suddenly dropping away on one side of the road to reveal a brilliantly green valley in the old supervolcano caldera.

http://www.nps.gov/band/planyourvisit/upload/area%20map%2012307%20wo%20overlay%202.pdf

Mesa Verde has more refined cliff dwellings with adobe facades, but it's considerably out of your way.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Wed May 22, 2013, 07:02 PM

3. Thanks, we definitely want to go there eventually.

We're looking for State Parks to camp in with our motorhome because we bought that annual park pass to save money. I'm going to edit my O.P. because I wasn't very clear.

We definitely want to go to Bandelier soon though and I really appreciate your suggestions. I was thinking about you earlier today because I got my first New Mexico nosebleed! We're not at a very high elevation right now so I think it was just from the dryness.

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Response to pamela (Original post)

Wed May 22, 2013, 06:35 PM

2. I agree with Warpy about Bandelier.

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Response to pamela (Original post)

Wed May 22, 2013, 07:52 PM

4. Valley of Fires, Aztec

and Salmon Ruins.

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Response to pamela (Original post)

Thu May 23, 2013, 06:06 AM

5. Chaco Canyon !!

You will feel like you're camping on another planet!
You shouldn't drive a regular car, though.
The 25 mile dirt road will destroy it.

I lived there for 4 years. Ojo Caliente hot springs
was also a favorite place (south of Taos / north of Santa Fe)

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Response to King_Klonopin (Reply #5)

Sun May 26, 2013, 01:34 AM

7. Ojo Calliente hot springs has camping too

with hookups but it's $20 a night. It has a great old hotel, cabins, and a huge swimming pool. The mineral pools - iron, soda, and arsenic run from lukewarm to very hot. My favorite thing to do at Ojo is cover myself in mud (mud buckets) and sunbathe. The river runs thru the property and there is a restaurant and spa - all in a rural setting.

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Response to pamela (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 01:16 AM

6. Villanueva is very beautiful

The Pecos River runs thru the campsite and there is a good restaurant (La Risa Cafe) in the town of Ribera not far from the campsite. This area of the state usually gets the most rain and is the greenest. I haven't camped at Villanueva, but I've hiked along the river - very picturesque. I live about 30 minutes from the town of Manzano. The Manzano State Park has no water near the campsite - it's just a nice wooded area. It's about 3 miles in from the town of Manzano. There is a small peaceful lake in the town of Manzano. It's right off the main street in the tiny town but you can't see the lake from the road . If you stay at Manzano, the Salinas Pueblo Missions are interesting to visit; the Quarari ruins are in the next town, Punta de Agua. It's very dry in this area right now. We have gone to Stage 2 fire restrictions.

Because of the dry conditions , I think I would choose Villanueva over Manzano.

Have fun!! It's a beautiful state. Last week my friends and I went to Capilla Peak in the Manzano mts. My good friend is the fire lookout person and we got to climb up to the lookout for the unbelievable views.

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Response to womanofthehills (Reply #6)

Sun May 26, 2013, 01:54 PM

8. Thank you!

Great information. Do you know what the driving conditions are like for a motorhome into those two parks? I've heard mixed things about the route to Villanueva-a few people said there were steep grades and drop offs.

I just checked Villanueva on the New Mexico state park website and they don't have many available spaces this week so I think we're going to go to Storrie first and then try Villanueva next. We haven't been in a town with a decent grocery store for over a month so we're running low on some essentials. We've been to Las Vegas before and it was a pretty nice town so we were planning to try Storrie soon. That's the only downside to this lifestyle. We try to stay in the really beautiful, out of the way places but, occasionally, we need to get back into civilization for a week or two to take care of laundry and groceries and mail.

Thanks again for the tips. It sounds like Manzano might be nice when we come back this Fall.

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Response to pamela (Reply #8)

Mon May 27, 2013, 01:33 AM

9. I remember a couple of steep spots heading N. out of Villanueva

but I don't remember them being that bad. Have you ever been to Cimarron Canyon State Park? http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/cimarroncanyonstatepark.html

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Response to Quixote1818 (Reply #9)

Mon May 27, 2013, 04:41 AM

10. No, not yet.

We'll probably hit all the state parks eventually. When we first decided to do this (live and travel in a motorhome for a few years) we were worried about how to afford it. Then we found out New Mexico had this great state park system. Four dollars a night for electric sites with the $225 yearly pass. We love New Mexico anyway so we figured we stay here a few months each year and save for more extensive travel in the other months.

I imagine over the next few years we'll stay in all the parks at least once, although I already know that some of them aren't real easy to get to in a motorhome. We're new to driving a big rig now so I'm particularly nervous about getting into a hairy situation. I hope to become less nervous eventually but, for now, I like to check and double check all our routes.

Thanks for the feedback on Villanueva. So far, we've camped in Bottomless Lakes and Sumner Lake and visited Santa Rosa. On a previous trip, when we were still in the planning stages, we drove through Sugarite, Storrie and Red Rocks. New Mexico has some great state parks. We can't wait to get back this fall and hit the one in the southwest corner like Elephant Butte and Rockhound.

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Response to pamela (Reply #10)

Mon May 27, 2013, 08:36 PM

11. I've always entered Villanueva from the south

from I40 and the road curves up and down thru very small towns, but it's a main road. I don't remember any drop offs like you would see in the mountains.

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Response to womanofthehills (Reply #11)

Tue May 28, 2013, 04:44 PM

12. I wish we'd gone to Villanueva.

We went to Storrie today and I'm not really loving it. The lake is way, way down and the electric sites are so close together, we almost couldn't open our slides. Oh well, live an learn.

Thanks again for all the information you've been giving me. I really appreciate it.

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Response to womanofthehills (Reply #6)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 08:36 PM

13. Is there a fire down your way?

We were planning to head to Manzano Mountains State Park next and found out they are closed. Just wondered if there was a fire near there. Hope you are okay.

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