This week we’ve been hanging at New Mexico State Park number two: Rockhound State Park.
It’s not the most exciting or stunningly gorgeous park we’ve ever been to. I will even admit to a twinge of disappointment when we first pulled in, but that’s probably just because I’m a tiny bit spoiled. The way I figure it, why shouldn’t I be? We didn’t embark on this lifestyle to stay at scary looking RV parks with neighbors 3-feet from our front door (there seems to be a large amount of those in this area), or even so-so campgrounds with boring views and crappy sites. What it really comes down to is that we don’t have the luxury of treating a campground as simply a home base while we drive around exploring all day. The fact is that most days we are at the campground, working from the Airstream for 8 hours a day, and that means we want our surroundings to be as scenic as possible. With all that said, this is really not a bad campground, and after getting over my initial disappointment, which probably stemmed from that fact that nothing was going to live up the cool factor of our last two stops, City of Rocks, and Indian Bread Rocks, I decided that I liked it here. It turned out to be a very pleasant place to spend the week, with large sites, quiet surroundings, and some nice (although short) hiking trails. I may be a tiny bit spoiled, but I am not soooo spoiled that I expect every place we go to be perfect and gorgeous and wonderful…just close.
Here is our site. This photo is a little bit deceiving. We do have an RV in the site behind us, and there are several others behind it, but I crouched down low enough that you can’t see them. Sneaky right? Rockhound is a fairly small park with only 29 total sites. Twenty-three have electric and water hook-ups, and 6 are dry sites. All the dry sites were full when we arrived, so we ended up in a site with electric and water. This kind of partial hook-up situation offers absolutely no advantage for us, as we have all the electricity we need from our solar panels, and a full tank of water plus a few of our extra jugs gets us through the week just fine. But since the site is only $4/night with our park pass, we’re not complaining. The very best sites in the park are located on the outer edge of the loop and offer up uninterrupted views of the tall mountain behind us. Most of these sites are reservable though, and were all full when we arrived, so we settled for one of the (huge) interior sites.
It’s been a pretty low key week here at the Rockhound. We spent a little time at the visitor center learning about the flora and fauna of the area and talking with the volunteer about the different rocks people have found here over the years. Every park visitor is allowed to “hunt” and take home 15 pounds of rocks. We certainly don’t need 30, or even 15, pounds of rocks riding around in the Airstream with us, but it was fun to see the examples of some of the cool rocks you might find. It’s probably just as well that we didn’t have our hearts set on finding a Thunder Egg (agate filled rock) or chunk of Jasper, because the park’s been open since the mid-60s which means you’re going to have to do some serious off-trail hounding to find the good stuff.
There are two short hiking trails in the park. If you do both together you get 2 miles of hiking in. Not much, but there are a few steep sections, so if you go fast enough it could be considered a good, yet short, workout. We hiked these trails a couple times and found a few cool looking rocks, but will probably narrow the selection down to only one that we keep.
From the top of the Thunder Egg Trail you can see the campground below with the town of Deming off in the distance.
We didn’t make it out of the campground for any additional hiking, but we did find a nice dirt road nearby for biking and running. That’s right, I said running. Eventually I am going to write an entire post about our new form of torture-I mean exercise. But for now, I’ll just tell you that we started a 3x a week running program. It’s been nearly 2 months and we’re doing well, although we both still hate running. Basically, we wanted to get more exercise without having to carve out 3-4 hours a day for a long hike or bike ride, and running seemed the best way to do it. We’ve been following the Couch to 5K program that starts you off with some easy intervals and gradually increase your running time. It’s a nine week program and we are just finishing up week seven. At the end of week nine I plan to write a blog post all about our experience. Right now I can tell you that while there is no risk either of us will ever become one of those those crazy run-loving freaks (no offense to all you freaks out there), we are learning to tolerate the pain and are committed to keeping up with our running even after we finish the program.
We originally planned on heading out tomorrow to our next state park, Leasburg Dam. But then yesterday we made the spontaneous decision to spend Saturday at White Sands, followed by a night at the Walmart in Las Cruces, and then head up to Leasburg on Sunday. And that right there is why we prefer to wing it with no reservations. Cause you never know when you might want to spend the day playing in the sand.
Here’s the updated New Mexico State Park Spreadsheet. As you can see after 13 nights the With Pass per day price is still higher than the Without Pass per day, but by the end of next week it should be almost even.
I’m still chuckling regarding your take on running….can so relate. We may have to add a little running here and there to our routine but it’ll be begrudgingly :-) After some research, Rockhound appeared a little boring thus we bypassed and opted for City of Rocks. We do get spoiled with amazing scenery. I’m dreaming of a meadow of wildflowers in Crested Butte!
Yeah, I am fairly sure I will never love running. Rockhound turned out to be a nice spot for the week, but City of Rocks definitely has more of a wow factor. And I ‘m with you on the wildflowers. Love the desert, but already looking forward to our summer in CO!
We’ve stayed at Rockhound a couple of times on cross country journeys and have always enjoyed the peace, spacious sites, dark night skies, and the hiking trail, even though it’s short (twice around works). You’re right, it’s not spectacular, but it’s pretty sweet. We definitely do NOT collect rocks! Not a good hobby for traveling full-time. :-)
We did end up enjoying Rockhound after I got over my initial impression. Most people only seems to spend a night or two, so I suspect it is a popular stop over spot for people traveling through.
We’ve stayed at Rockhound many times and for some reason we really like it there. There is better hiking in the day use area, Spring Canyon, just up the road, and unlimited hiking in the surrounding BLM land in the Florida Mountains.
I have a feeling you will be disappointed with Leasburg Dam. It’s another park we’ve spent quite a bit of time at and there aren’t any long trails there, either, but Las Cruces is surrounded by BLM and national forest. Each time we go back we discover new places. Prehistoric Trackways NM isn’t too far from Leasburg where we went on an excellent ranger-led hike. http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/las_cruces/trackways.html
We wanted to hike at the day use area, but sadly it closes at 3:30 during the week and Tim can’t get away from work before that. After my initial disappointment we ended up liking Rockhound, it just didn’t have the same wow factor as City of Rocks. I am already not expecting much from Leasburg. We met some folks here who just came from there and they gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect. It’s more of a stop over for us on our way up to Albuquerque for a commitment. We’re already planning on visiting the Prehistoric Trackways, it looks like a cool place. Will have to check out when the ranger led hike is.
I’m cycling through the Elephant Butte parks and thinking about meandering. You’re saying I should stay at Rockhound BEFORE going to City of Rocks. That’s how I’m reading it. It’s what I’m taking away from this. It’s how I’m hearing you.
Yes! Because if you go to City of Rocks first then Rockhound will be disappointing. But if you go the Rockhound first then it will be a nice little campground, and then when you get to City of Rocks it will be like wow! If that makes any sense.