City of Rocks State Park

We went to City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico for the unique climbing opportunities. Instead I spent most of the time stalking some great horned owls. Over the week that we stayed, I took over 1200 photos of owls. On my initial edit, I trimmed it down to about 200 that I really liked. This still seemed excessive, so I got it down to 55. Finally 19 made the cut. Of course this is about City of Rocks as a whole, so I will start there.

View of the park from the nearby lookout. (sorry for poor quality, taken with my phone)
View of the park from the nearby lookout. (sorry for poor quality, taken with my phone)

City of Rocks is located about halfway between Silver City and Deming.  Silver City had a nice little food coop that we went to several times to get some groceries.  They also have a Wal-Mart and Albertson’s.

City of Rocks makes for a good jumping off point to explore Gila Cliff Dwellings, especially if you don’t want to drive your huge RV through the winding mountain roads.

The park itself is quite unique. It’s a giant boulder field that was deposited about 35 million years ago by a volcanic eruption. You are able to hike around and explore the whole area. The campground is interspersed throughout. We arrived Sunday around noon, so not everyone had left from their weekend stays. We still had a good quarter of the sites to choose from. We were able to get one that provided some nice shade on the front of the rig, but kept the back in full sun which worked out great for our solar.


Since it took me over a month to type this up, I don’t remember how the cell service was. The campground itself was very beautiful.

A cluster of boulders in the middle of the park

They had some RV sites which came with electrical and water, but we didn’t need the electrical and we could make the water last a week. There are no dump stations at the park.  Being a New Mexico State Park they have the same great offer for cheap year round camping.

Several stacked rocks right across from our site.
Several stacked rocks right across from our site.
A pretty decent sized boulder being held up by a small rock.
A seemingly floating boulder.

The first few days we did some climbing. We mostly messed around on some O’s and 1’s.

Taking it easy on her still healing ankle.
Taking it easy on her still healing ankle.

This is the only video I have, because I needed a spotter most of the other climbs. The best one I did was a V3 called 20th Century Streak. Its right in a campsite, so I did it while the site was empty.

Sunset photos from different nights



A couple of night time shots when we had a fire going.
A couple of night time shots when we had a fire going.

It wasn’t until our second night that we were there that we realized there were a few owls that called the park home.

A little bit, but I still like it.
A little bit blurry, but I still like it.

From that night on, I was their shadow, and they never noticed me.  Not once.  IMG_3560

Okay, maybe they noticed me this once.

From that night on, I basically stalked them.

Hiding on the rock on the left side.

I even got up nice and early to see where they slept.  At least twice, I was watching one owl so intently in a tree, I failed to notice that there was another one about 8′ away in the same tree.  I usually noticed after about 20 minutes.  The first angle I was at for the below image, I couldn’t see the darker one.  Then I moved for a much better angle.

IMG_2516One morning I just watched them sleep for about an hour.

Big yawn.
I don’t think it sees me.

I saw them mating on two separate nights.

IMG_2919edit IMG_3572

Getting situated in their nest before leaving for the night.

Some other shots I got while following them around.  IMG_3118edit IMG_2752edit IMG_2330 IMG_2932 IMG_3627edit

I really wanted to get some good shots of them in flight, so I setup outside their tree for about 2 hours until they became active and finally decided to depart. Unfortunately, they are still quite difficult for me to capture in flight. Most of the ones I got were fairly blurred.

Getting ready to leave.
Getting ready to leave.

It didn’t help that by the time they were usually active the light was pretty low and since they were moving about so much I had to ditch the tripod and hand hold the lens. Luckily no one stole my tripod cause I just left it leaning against a rock for a while each night.



The whole week was amazing.  I would love to take advantage of the State Park Pass one year and spend most of the winter in New Mexico.


9 thoughts on “City of Rocks State Park”

  1. The owl pictures were beautiful. I also loved thenight sky and sunset. I can’t wait to see where you both go next. 😊


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