Count your catch and compare weights in a fishing derby, held seasonally at parks including Cimarrón Canyon, Eagle Nest Lake, Oasis, and Ute Lake.


At City of Rocks, a new mural depicts the desert in front of the park’s iconic Table Mountain. Moving from dawn to dusk, the scene shows a night fire merging with the volcano whose ash formed the city’s iconic rock towers. Students from local schools spent a week painting the project, which park manager Gabriel Medrano says helped build connections to the local community (some of those kids had never visited the park) and offers a new way for visitors to engage with the park’s wildlife and scenery.


Birding at Rio Grande Nature Center.


State parks often play host to birding hot spots, particularly when they’re along the Río Grande corridor, an ancient flyway used by more than 350 bird species during spring and fall migrations, says Evaristo Giron, southwest regional manager for state parks. Visitor centers often provide bird lists and brochures featuring common species and seasonal visitors, and many loan binoculars to aid with spotting. “It’s like a scavenger hunt for families,” Giron says.


Before Sugarite Canyon housed a state park, it was home to a coal-mining town. The former post office is now a visitor center, with retired mine equipment and photos of the coal layers. Outside, an interpretive trail meanders among the remnants of homes, mining equipment, and even a ballfield.