Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
THE CAMPGROUND AT Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, about 20 minutes south of Alamogordo, perches on a hillside above the sandstorm-prone Tularosa Basin. “You can sit there and just see them gathering on the valley floor, then running out,” says Greg Wood, a volunteer who has visited 33 of New Mexico’s 35 state parks. Restrooms are equipped with showers, and 15 sites allow for plugging an RV into water and electricity (the other 15 have water). Schedule a tour of the Oliver Lee Ranch House to peek into the restored 1893-era home of a state politician and local rancher.
Percha Dam State Park
Shade is a prized commodity in southern New Mexico’s summers, and it’s in thrilling abundance at Percha Dam State Park. At this birding hot spot along the Río Grande north of Hatch, sites tuck in among the cottonwoods, with a couple along the riverbank best suited for tents. The setting is ideal for popping up the camp chair and breaking out a cold beverage and a card game or book.
Manzano Mountains State Park
The 32 campsites at Manzano Mountains are scattered among glades of ponderosa pines, with packed-earth spots to park a trailer or pitch a tent. The state park perches on the eastern edge of the Manzano Mountains, where the elevation just starts to climb and gains enough ground that campers in some sites can look out over the grasslands below. Amenities here are lean—some water, no flushing toilets—so come prepared for real camping.
Storrie Lake State Park
Among sun-soaked grasslands with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains lining the horizon sit Storrie Lake’s 45 campsites, 22 with water and electric hook-ups, and many with a three-sided stone or adobe structure to shelter from the winds that lure sailboats and windsurfers to the lake. Developed options are complemented by beach camping, where you can drive right to the water’s edge and park a trailer for the night, and even boat-in camping, so you can really escape all hint of civilization.
Hyde and Seek
A little rustic and a little otherworldly, the yurts at Hyde Memorial State Park offer a unique experience for a night in the woods. The circular dwellings with latticed wood interiors, wood floors, and skylight domes borrow a style from nomads of the Central Asian steppe, but these three yurts were permanently installed among the pine trees near Little Tesuque Creek and trailheads into the Santa Fe National Forest, which surrounds the state park. Single beds with foam mattresses sleep up to six, while propane heaters warm the interiors to a toasty level that makes it possible to sleep here comfortably all year.