While staying in the Elephant Butte Lake RV Resort we met several of our neighbors and they were all into exploring the trails around New Mexico with their Side-By-Side ATVs. We were lucky enough that Doug and Susan, our next door neighbors, had a 4-seat unit and they invited us out for a couple of trips into the desert and mountain areas around Truth or Consequences and Caballo in the Rio Grande river valley.
New Mexico has an abundance of trails that are open to the public and most are only accessible by 4-wheel ATVs like theirs. There are many rocky, steep and narrow areas that most normal vehicles even with 4-wheel drive could not navigate. We were amazed that they could follow all the trails without getting lost!
Our trip took us into the mountains and up to several old abandoned mines. The views of the desert valley on the way up were spectacular and we were even surprised to find sand dunes and red dirt way up there.
At each mine, there were opportunities to search in the discard piles for amethyst, quartz and other rock specimens. Anna took home quite a few smaller rocks hoping to make jewelry out of them at some point in the future. One of the mines we visited had partially collapsed inside and was clearly not safe but we were able to go several hundred feet inside another. It was interesting to imagine how difficult it must have been to mine here with mostly hammers and chisels. At least they had spectacular views of the valley below when they emerged from the mine!
Rating: ⭐⭐ Site Quality: Dirt/gravel pads and roads. Our site was long enough for our rig and truck. Type: Commercial Access: Easy access from Interstate 25 just south of the New Mexico / Colorado boarder. Staff: The manager we checked in with was friendly and helpful although we had to wait for her to return from an errand. Once before we came here to get propane and the office was also closed during the day when it was supposed to be open. Amenities: There were Restrooms with showers, laundry facilities, and a dump station but we didn’t use them. I believe they may have all been closed in winter when we were there. Propane on site. Cellular/WiFi: Verizon and AT&T were decent. The park had WiFi but we did not use it. What we liked: Ease of access along I-25. Full hookups during the winter. Nice views of the mountains west of Raton. Propane is available on site. What we didn’t like: The park is mostly dirt and could be very muddy – luckily although there was still some snow on the ground the mud for the streets was not bad. There was some mud near the entrance to our rig. There is an alley that separates the front of the park from the back. Verdict: The Raton KOA is good for a short stopover on the way to or from Colorado along I-25.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2 Site Quality: Concrete pads with asphalt roads. Our site was long enough for our rig and truck. Type: State Park Access: Easy access from Interstate 225 a few miles east of Interstate 70. Staff: We visited the park in the winter and only one loop with 16 sites was open (although we found out that normally two of the sites were not available). During the summer there are 6 loops with about 140 campsites. With a confirmed reservation you could skip the office and go straight to your site. Unfortunately, when we arrived someone was still in our reserved site and they were two hours away. We agreed to take one of the two “unavailable” sites and were happy with that. Amenities: Restrooms with showers, laundry facilities, dump station (closed in winter). There are numerous hiking trails in the park but we didn’t use any of them due to the winter weather. Cellular/WiFi: Verizon service was weak and only 1 bar on our phones. Our data rate was between 2 and 20 Mbps depending on the day. AT&T through our wireless setup was fast at about 30 Mbps. The park had WiFi but we did not use it. What we liked: Ease of access along I-225. Full hookups during the winter. Nice views of the lake and some of the Denver skyline and mountains west of the park. What we didn’t like: Sites are expensive for a state park and on top of that you need a daily or yearly vehicle pass which just adds to the cost. Since they weren’t expecting to use the site we were in, they had not cleared snow from a major storm about two weeks prior from the site. There was still quite a bit of snow left right in our pathway from our truck to the RV. Verdict: Cherry Creek is a very nice park with a lot to offer with camping, hiking, boating and fishing to name a few. For us, we would stay here again but it is about 40 minutes away from family in the area so it is a bit far. In the winter while Chatfield State Park is much closer, it does not offer water and sewer so it is a trade off between being close and having full hookups.
Rating: ⭐ Site Quality: Gravel (mostly dirt and mud) roads and pads. Our site was barely long enough for our rig and truck. Since we were only going to be there one night we just left the truck hooked up. Spaces are tight. There are no amenities like picnic tables. Type: Commercial Park Access: Easy access from Interstate 70 on the east side of Limon, CO. Staff: No one was in the office when we arrived but a quick call to the emergency number and someone was there within about 5 minutes. Amenities: Laundry, restrooms with showers. Cellular/WiFi: Verizon service was 4 bars on our phones and our data rate was over 52 Mbps. AT&T through our wireless setup was fast at over 29 Mbps. What we liked: Ease of access along I-70. What we didn’t like: Expensive for what it was at ~$42/night. The park was mostly dirt and was muddy. Most of the people in the park appeared to be long term residents and the park was probably about 90% full. Not much in town, mostly fast food with a few local restaurants. Diesel was expensive here – about $.40 higher than what we should pay in Denver. Verdict: We would stay here again if this was convenient for our travels but likely only as a last resort.
Fort Hays was an important frontier military fort built in 1865 to protect the Union Pacific Railway. As you might suspect from the pictures below, the buffalo was important in this area. Some of the famous characters around the area when it was known as the most lawless town on the frontier were George Custer, Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody.