Well it looks like we discovered yet another fabulous New Mexico state park. Huge sites, great views, a fantastic location for exploring. But you know what my favorite thing about Oliver Lee state park is? The quiet. I don’t know if it just seems quite because our previous park featured an oh so lovely constant roar from the interstate, or if it really is especially quiet here. All I know it that as I sit here in my living room with the front door and all the windows open the only sound I hear is a faint bird chirping off in the distance. Ahhhh….silence.
My other favorite thing about this campground? The flowers! I guess the profusion of pretty blooms probably has more to do with the time of year than the campground itself, but it’s still a huge plus in my mind. When we first pulled in and drove around looking for a suitable site I noticed right away that all the Prickly Pear cactus were sporting gobs of yellow and orange flowers. Yay!
It’s long been my dream to see the desert in bloom. Before we started traveling we used to talk and dream about the things we wanted to see, and I always mentioned cactus flowers. Last year we missed out on most of the blooms by spending the spring in Utah where we spotted only one or two cactus flowers. And then this year I was sure we had missed the show again when I started seeing blooming cactus photos pop up on all the travel blogs from Phoenix and Tucson – after we had left both cities. About a month ago I was thrilled to spot a few crimson red claret cup cactus flowers at Leasburg Dam SP, but that was nothing compared to what’s going on here. There are flowers everywhere! I can’t even tell you how happy this makes me. It’s not only cactus flowers either. I’ve spotted carpets of yellow daisies, hot pink blooms on tall spikes, pale lavender flowers covering a Desert Willow tree, and even a fascinating flower called the Mexican Bird of Paradise.
Along with the flowers, we’ve also noticed something curious about the desert around here. It’s green. A green desert seems strange right? But it’s definitely green. Check out the view from our bedroom window.
Oliver Lee has a nice looking trail that climbs up and back into the canyon. We checked out the trail sign on our first day, and fully intended to return and hike at least part of the 10 mile round trip trail. But for some reason it never happened. We found a service road that was suitable for our dreaded runs, but the hiking trail got no love from us. We did get out for a second excursion to White Sands. Even though we spent an entire day there about a month ago, we couldn’t resist a return visit. How could we pass it up when it’s only a half hour away? We went one afternoon after Tim was done work. This time is was much less crowded.
We spent a glorious few hours frolicking in the sand, marveling at the beauty, and munching on our picnic of homemade burritos.
This time around we got a unique perspective of this unique landscape – from above!
Tim finally got a kite big enough to carry the GoPro camera up into the sky.
It wasn’t a perfect process and he kept having to take it down and adjust the angle, but in the end we got a few cool shots. More than anything it was fun. We now have three kites and White Sands is the perfect place to fly them.
That’s it for our stay at Oliver Lee. Tomorrow we’re headed out with a stop at the famed Museum of Space History and then up into the mountains for a few days to explore the tiny town of Cloudcroft and escape the 90 degree temps that are coming our way. I leave you with the obligatory New Mexico state park sunset shot.
Here’s the updated New Mexico SP fee spreadsheet. We had another week with no added fees since we chose a dry site ($10/night or free with the pass). You’ll notice that 40 days in our per night fee with the pass is pretty low. But you’ll also notice that the per night fee without the pass is fairly low as well. You really can’t beat the value of New Mexico state parks!
Beautiful spot. Love the quiet and the flowers.
It’s funny how only one week in an RV park makes me appreciate the quiet that much more. And the flowers were such an unexpected delight!
Beautiful photos. I’m glad you’re seeing a desert bloom. There’s really nothing like it. It’s just amazing to me that such spikey plants produce such beautiful flowers.
It is pretty amazing that those gorgeous flowers come from those spiky, sometimes ugly cactus!
I am totally loving the flowers and the kite pics! So glad you got to enjoy that park. The hiking trail is actually pretty sweet so maybe next time you’ll get up there.
I actually read your post from here and saw that you three conquered the trail. It looked beautiful. Next time!
Greg has a quadcopter which can be finicky – love, love, love the kite and go pro pics. Super cool! We’ve thought of strapping our go pro to a balloon when the weather is too bad for the copter. The flowers are amazing. We will have to visit in May next year. Great post!
The kite is kind of finicky too, but it was a pretty cheap way to get the GoPro up in the air. I think May must be just the right time of year for the cactus flowers because they are everywhere!
Looks like we’re strolling past the same bathroom cactus. :o)
Gotta love a good bathroom cactus! We must have just missed you at Oliver Lee. Left yesterday morning to escape the heat up in Cloudcroft for a few days.
Good timing! It’s hotter than the Sun’s surface here today (I have escaped).
The cactus flowers are beautiful, it’s great that you get to see them this year. I definitely have to mark that down on our to do list.
Great post, Amanda. My sister lives in NM, so I imagine we’ll be spending some time there so I’ve been very interested in your experiences. Those aerial shots are fantastic!!!
I LOVE those aerial photos of White Sands! I couldn’t get enough of that place…went back two days in a row, and still regret not parking the rig and doing the back country camp to sleep out under the stars. It was so cool to be able to see what it looked like from above. What a great perspective!
It really is one of those places that you could visit over and over again. I LOVE the idea of going on a back country overnight in the park. How amazing it must be there after dark, and to see the sun rising over the sand!!!
I still haven’t seen the desert in bloom, so beautiful. Maybe next year…