As you may recall from earlier articles NM is my native state. I had planned this trip for many years but had to wait until I was retired to take it. A friend of my Dad spent his winters at Elephant Butte for many years and the pictures I saw of the fish he caught there had enchanted me since I was a teenager. New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment. However my wife and I were having so much fun sight seeing I didn’t fish, so that will have to wait for another trip.
Here we are hooked up and all ready to pull out of snow country and head for warmer conditions in SW New Mexico.
We were lucky to have another couple join us. They are actually our partners in the ownership of the Caravel. They have since purchased a 5th wheel for additional space so Phyllis and I have pretty much 100 % use of the Airstream.
Fortunately I did a last minute inspection of the trailer tires and discovered the valve stems were about to pop out so I drove to my friendly tire shop 3 blocks away and they quickly jacked up the trailer and replaced the stems. A short half hour later and we were on our way. Our plan was to make it to Albuquerque the first night, which we did. My wife located a nice KOA in the east part of town and we checked in for a peaceful first night.
Here we are parked in the KOA with our friends parked next to us with their 5th wheel. This was our first stay in a commercial campground; it was a very pleasant experience. We usually stay in National Forest camps.
Next morning we were off to a nice early start with plans to get to Los Lunas, about 20 miles south of Albuquerque, for our first fuel stop. Then it was on to Elephant Butte, which we made by mid afternoon.
The camp sites at the lake are owned by the state and are very nice, as well as reasonable; fees are from $8.00 to $18.00 per day. Go to www.nmparks.com to make reservations. Our site had electric, water, paved parking, covered picnic table at each site and hot showers about a half block from our camp sight. The fee was $14.00 per day. We were about a half mile from the lake shore. The lake was down about 30 ft. from its high water mark or we would have been only about 50 yards from the water line.
It was easy to get our canoe to the water by driving right to the shore. The temperature was near perfect, high 70’s and low 80’s which having left snow this was a very pleasant surprise. I did miss a couple of ski days but made up for it when we returned home. A couple of mornings we turned on the heater for a few minutes to take the chill off before we got out of bed.
The city of Truth or Consequences is only about 3 miles from the lake and offered all the services we needed. There are several Hot Springs there for relaxing. The town of Elephant Butte also had many services and a couple of nice eating establishments.
We really enjoyed each morning being treated to a visit by a very large covey of Gambel Quail. Next trip I plan to take a bag of Bird Seed to entice them in closer.
We took several side trips around the SW corner of NM. Our first was to Silver City, which is a historic silver mining town turned copper mining. There is a very large copper mine which sustains the economy of the community with a few tourist dollars to keep up the antique and art shops. We also toured Chloride, which too is a historic silver mining ghost town. There is a very nice museum there which displays artifacts of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I think the road leading to each of these towns has to be the curviest I have ever been on. We could only drive about 30 mph due to the curves and ups and downs. This picture is at the high point of the road looking east about 30 miles toward the Lake.
The southwest part of NM has many more mountains than I expected. The area also got me very interested in Geology so when I got home I signed up for a college class in Introduction to Geology. I am really enjoying this new venture. The Rio Grand River follows the Rio Grand Rift which goes all the way to the north end of the San Luis Valley which is 20 miles west of our home in Westcliffe, CO to the Gulf of Mexico. The Rio Grand River is the water supply to Elephant Butte Lake. Much of the water from the lake is used for agriculture all the way to the Gulf and supplies a big portion of our produce, pecans, oranges, grapefruit and almonds and other vegetables. I bet you didn’t know that New Mexico has been under water at least twice in the last 20 million plus years. That is part of the reason for Carlsbad Caverns as well as much other water affected geology.
Another side trip was to City of Rocks which is a volcanic formation out in the middle of great expanses of grass lands. The formations are fascinating and the park service has set up camp and picnic sites interspersed in the formations. I am guessing the formations cover approximately 100 acres. We didn’t camp there but it would be a very nice place to do so. There is a well improved State Campground adjacent to the formations.
Our next excursion was to White Sands National Monument. I had the strangest feeling as I drove through the park that I needed to drive carefully not to slip on the roads as they looked like they were covered with snow and coming from snow country I expected to slide if I went too fast. Here we are hooked up and all ready to pull out of snow country and head for warmer conditions in SW New Mexico. As you may recall from earlier articles NM is my native state. I had planned this trip for many years but had to wait until I was retired to take it.
My wife climbed the dunes with ski poles to assist her. The dunes are not really sand they are gypsum and just as white as snow. There is a very interesting informational trail telling about the wild life that live in the dunes. The most interesting to me is the Kit Fox which is smaller than a house cat. They survive with no water only the fluids derived from the Mice they eat.
What with bicycling, canoeing and side excursions the 2 weeks went by much too rapidly. It is a trip well worth taking and most especially if you live in a cold spot and wish to get to spring time a little early. I imagine it gets pretty hot in mid summer so I don’t plan to go there except in Spring or Fall. Elephant Butte island below does look like a sleeping Elephant, if you use a little imagination.
Come enjoy my native state, New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment.