Leasburg Dam State Park

Compared to the excitement of our day playing in the dunes at White Sands, the rest of the week has been rather anti-climatic. We arrived at Leasburg Dam State Park just north of Las Cruces a little past noon on Sunday.

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Us, a bridge & a bird

I know I run the risk of ruining a good thing by saying this, but I think I am ready to declare that we’ve perfected the art of snagging one of the first-come, first-serve sites at the New Mexico State Parks. The trick is to arrive on a Sunday between twelve and one. All the weekenders will be leaving on Sunday, and since most people need to a few hours to drive home they leave an hour or two before the 2:00 check out. Technically check-in at the NMSPs is 4:00, but from what we’ve seen there’s no way you’ll get a site if you show up that late. By the way, don’t you find it funny that check in times are typically two hours later than check out times at campgrounds. What happens during those two hours? I mean, it’s not like they’re making up your bed, or cleaning you bathroom. Some campgrounds rake the site, but from what we’ve seen the majority do not. It’s very puzzling. Anyway, I digress. So we showed up on Sunday sometime between noon and one to find only two of the 31 sites open. One of the them was a very large, no hook-ups site on top of a bluff overlooking the diversion canal and Rio Grande River below.

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Site 10 at Leasburg Dam SP

You’ll notice in the above photo that we don’t have any tables or chairs outside, there are lots of large rocks holding down the mat, and a few random flip flops laying around. That’s all the result of the very, very windy week that we’re having around here. Far too windy to even think about sitting outside. On the plus side, up until Thursday it was really warm, like almost 80-degrees, which we have been enjoying immensely.

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Two more views of our site including the adobe picnic shelter

There’s nothing really special or exciting about Leasburg Dam SP. But that’s okay, because we knew ahead of time it wasn’t going to be the kind of campground that blew us away with beauty. I know I said last week that I was spoiled and always wanted to find the absolute best campground, but I’m also realistic and know that sometimes we’re going to end up in a place that is just okay. The major reason we decided to stay here is to take advantage of the close proximity to Las Cruces. For the first time since we left Tucson over a month ago we have access to some larger stores for shopping. This meant we could buy the part for our black tank that we desperately needed (you don’t want to know), stock up at Target, find a birthday present for our little niece who is turning one this month, get some new running shoes for me, and take care of a bunch of other stuff that just can’t happen in the tiny towns we’ve been near lately.

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The view from our site. The foot bridge crosses the diversion canal, and the trees beyond are on the banks of the Rio Grande River

Besides shopping and working we have spent some time exploring the nature that surrounds us here in the park. There are a few short trails that meander around the campground, and down below us is the day use area with access to the river and a few more trails. The day use area is closed during the week this time of year, but we may have snuck around the fence anyway. Shhh…don’t tell. My best guess as to why it’s closed is because hardly anyone wants to visit it this time of year. Why don’t they want to visit? Could have something to do with the lack of water in the river. Below is what the diversion canal looks like right now. Pretty dry.

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No water here

The reason the diversion canal is dry becomes pretty evident when you see the dam. The dam by the way, is not there to hold back water, but to divert it into a series of canals for use by nearby farms. As you can see, there’s nothing to divert right now.

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The Leasburg Dam not damming a dam thing

The lack of water is due in part to the time of year, which is typically very dry, and also the fact that by the time the river reaches southern New Mexico it has been diverted so many times that it often dwindles down to nearly nothing.

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The Rio Grande

Despite the lack of water, we did discover some signs of spring down by the river. I’ve really been longing to see some green lately, so as you can imagine I was excited to find green leaves, some pretty pale pink flowers, and even a path lined with trees. Trees! What are those? We’ve been in the desert so long that I nearly forgot what it felt like to walk down a tree-lined path.

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Signs of spring

Back at the campground, we’ve also spotted a few signs that spring has sprung in southern New Mexico. Check out this impressive Yucca flower.

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A Yucca flower

And these cactus flowers!

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A type of Hedgehog Cactus called Claret Cup

I Spotted these the day we arrived and posted a photo on Instagram. Since then a ton more blooms have opened.  Aren’t they pretty?

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So pretty!

As usual we’ll be heading out to a new campground on Sunday. In the meantime, we plan to spend tomorrow exploring some of the hiking trails in the Organ Mountains just east of Las Cruces. If we’re lucky we might even find some more trees.

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4 Responses to “Leasburg Dam State Park”

Comments

  1. Laurel

    Wow — gorgeous claret cup cactus! We camped at Leasburg SP several years ago and there was plenty of water in the river — can’t believe it’s so dry now.

    Reply
    • Amanda

      I would love to see the river full of water. I actually thought it was kind of beautiful the way it is now, so I bet it’s really pretty when it’s full.

      Reply
  2. Lynn B~Tales From the Mutiny

    Gorgeous pictures!! We absolutely LOVED Leasburg Dam State Park and were pleasantly surprised that they even had wifi (it worked better in the reserved sites though). We old really enjoyed visiting Hatch (home of the famous green chiles) and Old Masilla.

    Oh, and we may or may not have climbed a few small barriers on our hike…I wonder if and when they open those areas up?!

    Reply
    • Amanda

      We really liked it there too and thought we got one of the best sites in the park. The wifi reached us, but just barely. A saw a sign that said the day use area was open from March-November, but I guess not this year.

      Reply

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