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.
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.
Why we went there: We needed a base of operations for our time at White Sands. The only camping they allow is back-country. Oliver Lee is about a 25-30 minute drive to the Dunes.
How accessible for RV’s: You can fit about any sized rig in any site. There are 44 total sites. About 7 are reservable. A lot of tilt to most of the sites because it’s in the foothills. One note, if you have GPS, DO NOT turn on Taylor Ranch Rd like our Garmin and Google Maps told us to. It becomes a dirt road that gets fairly rough. If you follow the signs it will take you in on Dog Canyon Rd. (We had to disconnect so I could turn the rig around and take Dog Canyon.)
Are there hookups: There is a dump station/water on the left upon entering the park. 16 sites in loop A have 30amp and water hookups. We stayed in loop B which has a few water spigots between sites and no electrical. Love our solar panels!
How much does it cost: For someone staying long-term in New Mexico, they have a great camping pass program. As an out-of-state resident we could buy a pass for $225 which would allow us to camp every night for a year in a state park, with a 14 night limit per stay. If we were going to be staying in the state for a while, it would be a heck of a deal. As it was, we paid $10/ night for our site. To get electrical it’s $14 ($4 with the annual pass).
Quiet Hours: 10pm-6am. Wasn’t too big of an issue as most everyone was staying in loop A with electrical. There was a generator running a few sites down, but it could really only be heard when we were outside.
Why we loved it: Pretty cheap, with the option to be unbelievably cheap. Sites were nice and spread out. Right at the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains. Dog Canyon hike leaves from the visitor center. Free warm showers. Close proximity to White Sands National Monument. Lots of rabbits. Potential for other wildlife too, we just didn’t see any.
Things we didn’t like: Just so I have something to put here, I would say the sites could be more level on a whole, and quite hours could be longer 😉
Why we went there: It’s about a 30 or 40 minute drive to Carlsbad Caverns and there isn’t any camping around Carlsbad Caverns. There is an RV park in White City which is only about 8 miles to the Caverns but we prefer a more natural setting. And we are trying to live as cheap as possible. We would’ve loved to boondock somewhere but did not find a place to do this.
How accessible for RV’s: The drive to the park and campground is no problem. Because of a tight turn on your way out, the max recommended total vehicle length is 50′. The tent and RV camping areas are separate. There are about 8 spaces for big RV’s in a circular parking lot framed by the Guadalupe Mountains. Ours is 38 feet so we used one of these big spots. Three of the spaces are huge and you could easily fit an RV bigger than ours and your car next to it. The other five are not as big but we managed to squeeze our car into our spot right behind the slide outs. The rest of the spaces were for much smaller rigs.
Are there hookups: No hookups and no dump station but there is a place to get water right by the registration board.
How much does it cost: There is the entrance fee to the National Park which is 5 dollars per person. We bought an Interagency Annual Pass for 80 dollars at the beginning of our RV traveling and it has already paid for itself. The camping fee is 8 dollars a night.
Quiet Hours: (This is something Michael loved): From 8am to 8pm.
Why we loved it: The views were spectacular. The sunsets were amazing, this seems to be a staple of the Southwest. A lot of the hiking trails started right out of the campsite including the hike to Guadalupe Peak, Texas’s highest peak. We got to see some wildlife like Mule Deer and Javelinas. It was close to Carlsbad Caverns. The Salt Basin Dunes were not something we expected to find at the park and they were a good warm up for White Sands National Monument.
Things we didn’t like: The RV’s were packed in pretty tightly together. All week long we had neighbors 4 feet from us. It’s nice to have some more space.