New Mexico’s volcanic past is on display in all directions, from the volcanic mountains that pepper the horizon to geologic oddities in unexpected places. Located about halfway between Silver City and Deming, City of Rocks State Park is one of the latter. This family friendly destination may qualify as one of the most unusual campground & RV Parks in the world. Imagine the Flintstones taking the Jetsons camping on Mars. That captures the ambience. A photo of your RV shadowed by enormous rock pinnacles is definitely one to send to folks back east as a testament to your desert adventure.
City of Rocks gets its name from the amazing volcanic rock formations found here. The park is nestled in the scenic Chihuahuan desert region of southeastern New Mexico. It about one square mile of giant, wind sculpted boulders. Some of the rock columns are 40 feet high. There are paths, resembling city walkways, winding between them.
The boulders were deposited by the Emory caldera during a massive eruption about 35 million years ago. The caldera is located at the southern end of the Black range. Over millions of years, erosion whittled the columns and spires seen today, creating a stunning, surreal, alien landscape.
The Mimbreno Indians (Mimbres) lived in the area between 750 – 1250 AD. “Indian Wells” are visible in the rocks. The conical holes gathered and harvested water. There are grinding stones scattered throughout the park. The ancients used them to grind seeds.
Dark Skies and Wildlife
There is little to no light pollution, which provides outstanding dark sky conditions. There is an onsite observatory for astronomy aficionados and star gazers.
Bird watching is popular. There are at least 35 species nesting in the cavities and crevasses of the boulders, which is also snake habitat. Watch for them, because there are three varieties of rattlesnakes in the area.
Bring groceries or water, because there are no urban amenities nearby. The closest grocery store is in Deming or Silver City. Available activities include camping, hiking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and birding. The site features interpretive trails, an observatory, picnic areas, a desert botanical garden, a new visitor center, clean restrooms and hot showers. Faywood Hot Springs, a rustic geothermal resort, is 2.4 miles southwest of the park.