City of Rocks State Park was formed from volcanic ash that exploded 30 million years ago. This area was carved by wind and water into rows of blocks, City of Rocks State Park takes its name from these incredible rock formations. There are cactus gardens, hiking, and mountain biking trails at this location too. The State Park also offers some of the darkest night skies in the country and they have a Star Observatory at the park. The Star Observatory offers a green laser tour of the cosmos. People who visit this park will see southwestern plants and animals. The State Park as a botanical garden which is home to cow’s tongue and bunny ear cacti, Yucca and tall Century plants. There are deer, antelope, javelinas, and jackrabbits that are frequently seen along with over 35 species of birds ranging from Golden Eagles to finches.
This State Park reminded me of some of the outdoor scenes from the old Lost in Space TV series, where the Robinson’s wondered among boulders, always exploring and looking over their shoulder for the next alien to pop out and surprise them. This State Park is a little off of the beaten path, but well worth the trip to explore this unique Park with Stonehenge sized rocks huddled within a valley. The rock formations at the park are so unique that they are only known to exist in six other places in the world. Visitors who have imaginations may see the rock formations that look like a small city, complete with houses, chimneys, courtyards, and streets. The park encompasses a one square mile area in the Chihuahuan desert region of southwestern New Mexico at an elevation of 5,200 feet. The Mimbreno Indians settled in the area about 750 – 1250 AD. Pottery, arrowheads, and other artifacts show evidence of prehistoric Indians in the area. The Park was created on March 20, 1953. This legislation provided for the lease of 640 acres of land from the New Mexico State Land Office for the purpose of a State Park and recreation area.
This State Park is open all year round and is located in southwestern New Mexico. The Park facilities include electrical and water hookups for camping, with restrooms and hot showers. At least 50,000 people visit this Park annually. There is also a group campfire area, BBQ group area, and an RV campground. Several picnic and campsites with tables and fireplaces are concealed among the City’s maze-like streets, amid trees and rock walls, providing a relaxing sense of privacy. New Mexico’s Cultural Heritage Week, May 12 through 21, is celebrated with a “Desert Grocery Store” presentation, desert botanical gardening education, and archaeological interpretive tours. Interpretive tours, desert garden lectures, and other activities are available to groups if arrangements are made with the Park staff in advance.
The park lies in the Mimbres River Valley, halfway between Deming and Silver City. From I-10, in Deming take exit 82 onto US 180 ( N Gold Ave.) to NM 61 and turn onto City of Rocks Road into the Park. From Silver City, continue on US 180 south to NM 61 and turn onto City of Rocks Road and follow it into the Park.
This State Park has 52 well-separated sites (10 with electricity), some nestled in alcoves right among the rocks, all furnished with fire grills and picnic tables. The sites are distributed all over the formations, which are encircled by a 1.5-mile dirt track. There are vault toilets around the park and showers with hot water in the bathrooms at the visitor center. Around the back side of the park near the windmill, there is a vault toilet which has a faucet labeled drinking water if you need to fill your fresh tank. The visitor center also has water spigots in the bathrooms if you just need to fill a container.
Based on https://freecampsites.net/#!deming, nm there are 12 free campsites within 50 miles of Deming, New Mexico.
—-Hiking & Biking—-
There are 7 hiking trails here at the Park. The longest of the hiking trails is the City of Rocks trail which is 6.4 miles long. It climbs a little over 500’ in elevation but is not that hard to do. There is a relatively new mountain biking trail at this State Park. This part of New Mexico has tons of mountain biking trails including the Gila National Forest area.
—-Things to do—-
The Gene and Elizabeth Simon Observatory features a Meade 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope at the State Park with cool (bright) green lasers to point out the stars and planets that are being viewed. The observatory also features an iPad running Sky Safari software, on a tripod with handles so people can move it about the sky to identify stars and constellations for themselves.
Another thing to do in this area is off to the north of Silver City, New Mexico. Located there is the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The cliff dwellings were built in the 1280s by the Pueblo people as homes in caves and in the open, there are examples of both kinds at this park.