Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Mexico State Parks--

2012 April 24

New Mexico State Park Camping

 When checking the website for New Mexico State Parks, we couldn't find anywhere that would take a reservation, so we decided to wing it and just drive up and hope for the best. Since the area we were entering had four state parks in an area of about 80 miles, we figured we'd try the first, and see what happened. We also figured we couldn't possibly strike out four times, but if we did, our backup plan was a private RV campground.

New Mexico State Parks are very, very affordable. If you dry camp, the cost is $4 per night. Want water and electricity? That's $14 per night. Most state parks have shower houses, dump stations and lovely little shelters to keep you out of the sun, for at least some of the day. There are also yearly passes that can be purchased, either for camping or for day use and they are available for residents and non-residents.

Raymond & Greyla @ Leasburg Dam SP

As we drove toward our next State Park stop, just a little farther up the road, we realized we had a choice between Percha Dam SP and Caballo SP, since they were very close to each other. We opted for Caballo, which turned out to be an excellent choice.

Sunset at Caballo State Park

We spoke with a Ranger at the entrance who assured us there were plenty of sites with water and electric available in Appaloosa loop, and that we should drive around and pick out whichever one we wanted, as it was first come, first served. We drove through, found several spots to our liking. Then Raymond mentioned that he wanted to go to the store. But, since there were multiple sites, off we went to the store. Luckily when we got back from our little excursion, there were still several available campsites. We found one to our liking, set up and prepared to enjoy three nights under the New Mexico stars. 

Our "yard" @ Caballo SP

I can't say enough about the skies at night in New Mexico. It is beautiful and breathtaking. At least for a city girl like me. And the other plus, is that after the sun goes down, the night air is cool. You can sit out, looking at the heavens and never see a mosquito. Moths, yes. Mosquitoes, no. The area of southern New Mexico we were in doesn't have a lot of big cities, so light pollution is much less than even what we experienced in Arkansas. And, the altitude is generally around 4000 feet, which adds to the effect, along with the lack of major air pollutants. I was enthralled.

Our neighbor @ Caballo SP, John Fields
It was at Caballo SP that we met John Fields. He was extraordinarily informative. He told us things about the local area, wildlife, plants as well as, about RVing, himself and his life,about gemstones, and about Montana, where he and his wife had spent thirteen summers after his retirement, about their trips to Alaska, and about his wife of fifty-six years, whom he lost last summer. I so enjoyed talking to him. At one point, I told him he should come along with us. It would've been like having our very own expert historian and guide. The night before we left, I spent a couple of hours talking with him and petting his two dogs. I am so glad I did, because when I got up on Monday morning, he was already gone. But, it is this kind of serendipitous meeting that makes the whole RVing experience so great. And as John said, "You never know who you're going to meet, or when you'll see them again."

Before we left Caballo, we had already decide to head a few miles up the road to Truth or Consequences, NM, to camp at Elephant Butte State Park.  Along the way, we stopped for some groceries, then proceeded to the park.

Elephant Butte

Elephant Butte is a very large park. When we drove up to the entrance, there was a lovely volunteer couple working the entrance booth, who were extremely helpful and full of information. They gave us a map and instructions regarding which loops were available for "walk ups", and off we went in search of the perfect spot.

There was only one space left on the lake, and we opted against it since those sites seemed a bit close to together. We headed to Quail Run Loop. Here we found we thought was a "perfect site". Only after we were hooked up did we realize how unlevel the site was. But, no worries, that's why we have all those leveling doodads. Again, the site had a nice shelter as protection from the heaviest rays of the sun, a grill/ fire pit, and water and electric hook ups. In no time, Raymond had his satellite up and running. Ah, home sweet, motor home.

Sunrise from our bedroom window @ Elephant Butte SP

Our view was super. We could see part of the lake, as well as the actual elephant butte, for which the area is named. In addition, we found out why our loop was named "Quail Run" - as we sat and watched in late afternoon, we saw covies of quail running up and down the sandy hills. It was great! Then, a bit later, rabbits came hopping out to join in the fun. One of my favorite things to do is to sit and observe wildlife, so I was once again, very happy. Along some of the trails the various cacti species are identified, which helps those of us unfamiliar with the local fauna. Over all, we have enjoyed Elephant Butte SP. The great thing is that there are lots more New Mexico Sate Parks awaiting us.

A bunny visiting our site
The quail after whom Quail Run Loop is named @ Elephant Butte SP

When we leave here tomorrow, we're headed to a Corp of Engineers Park. I'll let you know how we like that, especially compared to our positive experiences in New Mexico State Parks, so far.  

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