I’d been hearing about Rockhound State Park near Deming, NM ever since I’d started hanging around rock people in Taos. It was a state park, they’d tell me with wonder in their voices, where you could mine for New Mexico minerals. Maybe I’m just a Negative Nelly, but I doubted there would be many shiny rocks left in the park after thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of visitors had already taken home all they wanted.
I finally got to visit Rockhound State Park in December 2017. I was heading west from Truth or Consequences, NM, and I had a state parks pass, so I decided to spend the night in the park’s campground. I arrived late in the day, so I didn’t stop at the visitor center. I didn’t go to the visitor center the next day either. I can’t remember exactly why. I remember I was sad because of recent relationship troubles, so I guess I was content to stay close to my van home.
When I pulled into the campground late on a Sunday afternoon, most of the developed campsites without electricity were occupied. I didn’t want to pay an additional $4 for electricity I didn’t need, so I was happy to get what seemed to be the last available basic developed site. My site was close to the day use parking area and the adjacent trail. My site was also within walking distance of a clean pit toilet. I was grateful to have a flat spot to park my van.
The campsites are quite close together in the area where I found my spot. During my first evening there, I very clearly heard my next door neighbor’s side of a phone conversation. He was sitting outside near his large rig, but I could hear him so easily, he might as well have been sitting at my picnic table. By the sound of his accent, he was from Wisconsin or Minnesota, and he wasn’t too impressed with the campground we were in. He and his wife preferred Oliver Lee State Park, he told the person on the other end of his conversation. I would have preferred silence, but I guess we were both destined to be dissatisfied that night.
I drove around the campground while looking for a site, but once I found my place, I didn’t venture away from my loop. I just didn’t feel motivated to walk around the campground. I suppose I wanted to stay close to the security of my cozy home. I certainly didn’t want to experience yet another cold New Mexico state park shower, so I didn’t seek out the bathhouse.
The loud Midwesterner and his lady left in the morning and I had a few hours of quiet early in the day. I cooked some breakfast, then tidied the van. I planned to leave the next day, and I wanted to be rested upon departure.
In the afternoon I decided to go for a walk on the nearby Jasper Trail. The trail started just across the pavement from my van, so I didn’t have far to go to get to it. I wasn’t so interested in the trail itself, but I did feel like I needed some exercise. I wanted to stretch my legs and get my blood circulating.
I walked for maybe half an hour. I saw scrubby bushes, cacti, and some rock formations, but no cool shiny rocks. I wasn’t really looking for shiny rocks, and I didn’t get off the trail, so I’m not really surprised that I didn’t find anything I wanted to load into the van. I’m sure a lot of people had walked that trail before me and any nice rocks were long gone from the immediate vicinity.
The State Parks website says of Rockhound State Park,
Located on the rugged west slope of the Little Florida Mountains, Rockhound State Park is a favorite for “rockhounds” because of the abundant agates and quartz crystals found there.
I suspect folks who are interested in collecting rock specimens in the park know where to look to increase their chances of finding what they want. Perhaps the workers at the visitor center advise rockhounds on where to dig for the minerals they seek.
Not long after I returned to my camp, a loud, slightly dilapidated, medium-size motor home pulled into the campground. I noticed it right away. It circled the campground, then chose the site right next to mine. To be fair, the site right next to mine may have been the only available one in the place.
After the loud conversation from next door the night before, I was hoping for a quiet evening. Unfortunately, the man who disembarked from the noisy moter home was not a quiet man. Fortunately (for me at least), he latched onto the couple on the other side of him. The man was loud and animated and quite possibly on meth. There was just something about him that made me want to avoid eye contact.
The motorhome man built a campfire and convinced his other neighbors to sit around it with him. I avoided eye contact with all of them by keeping my head down while I cooked dinner. When my meal was ready, I ate it in my van. Once the dishes were washed, I got in my van and locked the doors. At some point the newcomer settled down and went into his own rig, where he was quiet enough not to disturb me for the rest of the night.
I was out of the campground the next morning before check-out time. I had a list of thrift stores I wanted to visit before I left Deming, and I was on a schedule, so my time of lingering was over. The motorhome man didn’t bother me, for which I was thankful.
I would stay at Rockhound State Park again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to stay there. It was a fine campground, but not spectacular in any way I noticed.
What a shame you didn’t enjoy this park! We found it an absolute pleasure staying for 5 days in November and then again in March. The view is spectacular being sniggled up to the mountain range. We were in the primitive camping area both times (26’ TT). They visitor centre is large and staff are knowledgeable. The washrooms are excellent! The trails (one down by the Visitor Centre) are perfect if you’re out for a stroll, but we had been told to feel free and meander off the path. We’re not rockhounds, but we did go out for a few discovery hikes! Hosts were very accomodating – overflow in the group area, as well as off the road just past the VC. We’re looking forward to stop in here again on our way through NM.
Thank for sharing your experience at Rockhound State Park, Gail. I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as you did, and thank you for sharing a different viewpoint.
I didn’t realize there was primitive camping at Rockhound State Park. If I’m ever there again, I will certainly look for it. If I can’t find it, I will talk to the hosts or go to the visitor center.
I am sorry I skipped the visitor center. I usually enjoy them very much.
Did the showers have hot water? Not just lukewarm water, but truly hot water? I didn’t even try to take a shower at Rockhound because my shower experience at other New Mexico state parks was so bad.
In any case, thanks for reading and commenting. I love it when my readers share additional/different information.
The showers were wonderful! Newly constructed, wheelchair accessible (if needed), HOT water! They must have been booked solid because where you parked is the ‘day use’ for picnickers and is considered the overflow. The loop behind you, to the right in your picture, is the primitive area loop. This is a nice small State Park that fills up quite fast from my experience. It’s off the beaten path, no highway noise at all, close to a Winery, and Deming – definitely worth using instead of Walmart or the other campgrounds that are in Deming itself right beside the highway.
Thanks for this additional information, Gail. I’m sure sorry I missed those HOT showers! I totally agree with you about the lack of highway noise. Both nights I stayed at Rockhound State Park were very quiet.
If I’m ever in the area with dollars to spare (I’m sure my parks pass will be expired before I go back that way), I will check out Rockhound SP again.
Pingback: New Mexico State Parks Pass | Rubber Tramp Artist
Pingback: Weather and the Travel Trailer | Rubber Tramp Artist
Pingback: Black and Grey Water Tanks | Rubber Tramp Artist