We spent the month of April here in 2023. The park is at 7400′ above sea level and April can still be fairly cold with average highs of 66 and lows of 34. We had several nights in the mid to upper 20’s and it could be quite windy in the area but luckily we were somewhat protected from the worst of the winds. Although a lot of area activities are not up to full speed in April, it’s still a great time to visit with fewer people and abundant wildlife.
The Eagle Creek RV Resort where we stayed is owned and operated by the family of Don Maynard a professional football player from the 1950’s and 1960’s who was a wide receiver known for playing for the New York Jets. He also played with the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals; and the Shreveport Steamers of the World Football League. Don’s daughter Terri and her husband Rusty are among the best hosts we have encountered in our travels and they keep the park in tip top shape along with making sure guests have everything they need.
The area around the park is known for abundant wildlife and even in nearby Ruidoso it’s not uncommon to find lots of deer, antelope and wild horses. We heard that they have seen bear, mountain lions and even wild turkeys in the RV park but with the possible exception of a wild turkey we didn’t see any of those. Wild horses came by nearly every day and deer and antelope also were frequently seen in the evenings.
Cloudcroft is a mountaintop tourist community (8,676 feet) about an hour south of Ruidoso and located in the Lincoln National Forrest. It was named by Fodor’s in 2002 as the Number 3 “Most Overlooked and Underrated Destination Spot.” It’s a beautiful drive to get up there and we love to arrive early to get some great Texas BBQ at Mad Jack’s which is run by a Lockhart, Texas native. Lockhart is well known as a BBQ hot spot in Texas.
Monjeau Fire Lookout
Monjeau Lookout was completed in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps to serve as a fire lookout tower within Lincoln National Forest and is visible from Eagle Creek RV Resort. The structure is a 14-by-14-foot native stone tower which contains living quarters, and is topped with a 7 ft × 7 ft metal-frame cab. The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Places.
Park Review – Eagle Creek RV Resort
Location: Alto, NM
Site Quality / Amenities: Gravel pads and roads with picnic tables at each site. They also have a pavilion complete with tables and a BBQ grill, laundry facilities and a putting green. Hiking trails are available going up the mountain behind the the park with a climb of less than 500′. They can be a bit rocky and the best route is from the east side of the park. The east side has the old ski trails that switch back and forth up the mountain. The west side is mostly a steep climb straight up. At the top of the trail is the end of the old chair lift along with some good views of Sierra Blanca Peak.
Type: Commercial Park
Access: On Ski Run Road off New Mexico-48 north of Ruidoso in the town of Alto. Although you can access the park from NM-48 going north through Ruidoso there is a steep climb and the roads through town are quite narrow. We prefer to get there from NM-48 or NM-37 from US highway 380 from the north. They are both 2 lane roads with some elevation but they are easier to traverse.
Staff: The park is run by the family of Don Maynard of New York Jets fame from about 1960 to 1972. Terri and Rusty are terrific hosts who take a lot of pride in the park and take good care of the guests. The hosts cater to longer stays and in fact there is a 3 night minimum.
Cellular/WiFi: WiFi was available and fast at 61 MB download and 24 MB upload although the park wasn’t very full when I tested. Verizon was decent if not intermittent at times with download speeds of about 40 MB and upload speeds <1 MB on 5G. AT&T speeds ran about 9.5 MB for downloads and about 4.3 MB for uploads. AT&T was also intermittent at times.
Restaurants: Cafe Rio Pizza – Some of the best pizza I’ve had anywhere. We like the Tuscan made with Olive Oil rather than red sauce. Hall of Flame Burgers – We ate there last time we were here and I only remember they were just OK but not great. El Paraiso Mexican – The food was pretty good but the service was lacking. Alto Cafe – Good catfish on Friday’s. Mad Jack’s Mountop BBQ (Cloudcroft) – Great Texas BBQ but get there early!
Nearby parks: There are many nearby parks that look pretty good but most are gated, like Eagle Creek, so it is difficult to drive through them. We did get a chance to drive through the Eagle Lake Campground and RV Park even though they initially asked for $20 to do so (which we declined). The park is further west along Ski Run Road and is deeper into the mountains. The park had full hookups including 50A sites and was in a pretty area but that was where the good news ended. The roads into the park were very rough and the campground itself needed a lot of TLC. Most sites also looked too small for us. We wouldn’t stay there.
What we liked: Very clean, and very well run park. In April, the park was mostly empty and there was lots of animal activity including wild horses, mule deer, and elk. Our bird feeder and Hummingbird feeders were busy with a wide variety of birds and hummingbirds from sunup to sundown.
What we didn’t like: The downside of being in the area in April is that the area isn’t up to full speed yet. Of course, that’s good as well because everything is less crowded. Even the park could be less desirable and more crowded when it fills up later in the year.
Verdict: Although the park was allowing a few people to stay for short stays of less than a week, they really prefer folks staying a month or more with many sites reserved for their season (April through October). This is absolutely one of the nicest parks we have stayed in and we will return in the future.