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Pets allowed
Allowed
Guided tours
Yes
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

In southwestern New Mexico, a geological oddity comes out of seemingly nowhere. Among rolling plains of the high desert, there is one spot of large, knobby rock formations on a low hillside. This is the "City" of Rocks, which are actually the eroded remains of hardened volcanic ash from 35 million years ago. There probably used to be much more of this rock layer, but this cluster of less than 1 square mile is all that's exposed today. City of Rocks State Park encompasses the formations and provides great campsites tucked up in the rocks. There are also a few hiking/biking trails that weave among them, but you are free to scramble and explore wherever you like. The Table Mountain Trail is a longer and more difficult hike, which takes you to the top of the tall, craggy hill that overlooks the City.

A visitor center provides informative exhibits on the area's nature and geology as well as an observatory. The area is especially great for viewing the night sky because it is at a high elevation and far from the light pollution of any major cities. The park regularly hosts guided stargazing events, and lots of information is available on site. Areas of the campground are even named after various constellations to promote the park's theme of enjoying the cosmos.

There are campsites of various types, a few with water and electric hookups, and some are dry with water spigots nearby. Some are vehicle accessed and others are walk-in. They are all interspersed with the rock features and vegetation, which makes a uniquely fun camping environment. There is a comfort station with restrooms and showers, though it is a bit of a walk from most sites. Pit toilets are dispersed around the campground. You can reserve online or get a site first-come, first-served.

 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Interesting geology. Unique campsites. Stargazing.

Cons

Limited activities.

Features

ADA accessible
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Vault toilet
Bird watching
Wildflowers
Picnic tables
Potable water
Guided tours
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Bouldering
Bicycling

Location

Field Guide

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