New Mexico is known as the “Land of Enchantment”, and that’s not to be taken lightly. Famous for UFO sightings, ancient Puebloan sites, dunes of white sand inhabited by African antelopes, old Wild West towns, and numerous hot springs, New Mexico can sometimes feel like another country, or even another world. Being the fifth largest state in the US and covering over 120,000 square miles, the climate tends to be very diverse. Because of this, let’s focus on southern New Mexico for the best places for RV camping in the winter.
1. White Sands National Park
As of December 20, 2019, we can officially welcome White Sands as an official national park, instead of a national monument. This basin is tucked between the Sacramento and San Andres Mountains and is filled with gypsum, which has the appearance of white sand. People have been coming to the White Sands National Park area for over 10,000 years, whether it was for homesteading purposes, or even to collect the gypsum to use for building. Gypsum is rather sturdy and was actually used as an early mortar when the pyramids were built.
White Sands has the traditional activities that can be found in national parks, such as biking, backcountry camping, hiking to spectacular vistas, scenic driving, and ranger-led programs. It also has an activity that cannot be found at most other national parks: sand sledding. Waxed, plastic snow saucers are available for purchase at the gift shop on site, or you can bring your own.
When you’re ready to hit the hay, you have a few options. About thirty minutes away is Oliver Lee Memorial State Park Campground. This pet-friendly campground offers water and electrical hookups and has a dump station on site. For those experienced with boondocking, or dry camping, there is public lands camping just outside of the state park (32.7442, -105.9306) at Dog Canyon.
2. D.H. Lescombes Winery and Tasting Room
Did you know that the wine industry in New Mexico is older than California’s? With the territory still controlled by Spain, in 1629, two monks smuggled in grape vines from Spain in order to produce communion wine. The vines survived and multiplied through the ages until the Rio Grande river flooded in 1920, killing the entire vineyard. In 1977, La Vina Winery planted French hybrid varieties which kicked off the rebirth of New Mexico’s wine history. There are now over 60 wineries scattered across many different microclimates. New Mexico has six wine-related festivals including Santa Fe’s “Wine and Chile Fiesta”.
Grab your Harvest Hosts membership, because on your next trip to New Mexico, you have the opportunity to stay at the largest winery in the state for free at D.H. Lescombes Winery. Their location in Deming has four pet-friendly, reservable spaces for rigs of any size. This winery offers tours and tastings, and serves light bites, such as sandwiches and cheese trays from the bistro. They have a large variety of wines, including bottled mimosa, reds, blushes, whites, bubblies, and other specialties.
3. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
This national park is almost a double feature with the attractive sights above and over 119 caves below. The limestone caverns formed about 265 million years ago due to an inland sea and have since been used by Native Americans for thousands of years. Carlsbad Caverns has two main trails below ground: the Big Room Trail and the Natural Entrance Trail. Of the two, the Natural Entrance Trail is more strenuous and is the equivalent of walking up or down a 75-story building. There are also several surface hiking trails varying in length.
Another fun activity is observing the Bat Flight Program in the Bat Flight Amphitheater. Beginning Memorial Day weekend, rangers educate groups about bats while spectators get to watch them take flight for their evening hunt. On the third Friday in July, there is an annual celebration where a ranger leads Dawn of the Bats, where you can watch the bats return to their cave and partake in bat-related activities, and end the day watching them leave their cave.
When you’re ready to retire for the night, we recommend White’s City Cavern Inn. This hotel and RV park is near the park, and a nearby shopping center and can accommodate big rigs. All sites are pull-through, and most are shaded. They offer full hookups, WiFi, picnic tables, grills, fire rings, showers, and coin-operated laundry machines.
4. Sonoma Ranch Golf Course
If you’re ready to kick back on this trip to New Mexico, then Sonoma Ranch Golf Course has you covered. This award-winning golf course is suitable for golfers of all skill levels. They have a restaurant on-site, and participate as a Harvest Hosts location. They have two reservable, pet-friendly spaces for rigs of any size. Be sure to upgrade your Harvest Hosts membership to include golf so you can get in on the fun.
5. Roswell, NM
Roswell’s claim to fame began in the summer of 1947 when a rancher discovered unidentifiable debris in his sheep pasture. He found a mess of metallic sticks, tape, foil reflectors, chunks of plastic, and heavy, glossy, paper-like material. The rancher called the sheriff, who then called the local Roswell Air Force Base, who then collected the debris into their armored trucks. From this moment on, most residents of Roswell became suspicious of the government for covering up this incident, and others believed this was proof of the existence of aliens. This suspicion trickled out to the rest of the country, and aliens and UFO theories continue to be popular today.
Roswell has their own International UFO Museum and Research Center that attracts visitors from all over. In addition, Roswell is home to the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Robert Goddard Planetarium, and the Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge.
After a long day of exploring, you can enjoy your stay at the Red Barn RV Park. This park features full hookups sites with friendly hosts. They are pet-friendly and offer cable, renovated private bathrooms and showers, and amenities such as a snack bar, book and DVD exchange, a game room, laundry, and WiFi.
If you’ve never visited New Mexico, we hope this list changed any preconceived notions. After all, this is just a taste of what the “Land of Enchantment” has to offer. Keep following along as we write about all the best places to take your RV in northern New Mexico.
Where do you take your rig when you visit New Mexico? If you’ve never been, which place on this list excites you the most? Tell us about it in the comments!
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