Rockhound State Park, New Mexico, yes, you can TAKE rocks here!
It was established in 1966 as the first park in the United States that allowed collecting of rocks and minerals for personal use. Each visitor is allowed to collect as much as 15 lb of rocks and minerals from the 1,100-acre park, mineral dealers are not allowed to collect for sale though. Is that cool or what! Not that I have actually scoured the ravines with a pick and hammer, there are enough cool little rocks on the trail to keep me happy! You are limited to the size of tools you can use, no jackhammers;) The park is located about seven miles South of the I 10. You get to negotiate cattle crossings and vados to get there but no big deal!
The park sits at an elevation of 4250′. It deserves more than the one line on the park website! It’s small, 29 sites in total, 23 with electric, I chose the only uneven pull through as that was the only site available. I’m told there are groups of snowbirds that rotate around in these sites, from Rockhound, to City of Rocks as they are only allowed to stay 14 days at a time, I get it, beautiful spots.
Next time I’d choose one of the outside sites, 15-19 are huge and very level! There are over three miles of trails, some with interpretive signs pointing out different types of plants. After we arrived Mike wanted to go into Deming to refuel, to see if the check engine light would go away so we did that, and a quick stop at Pepper’s, the local grocery store, todos estaban hablando español, I felt right at home!
Back at our site, yeah, the check engine light went off with a new tank of diesel! We took the cats for a quick walk and then settled to leftover turkey! No train whistles or horns, no sirens, no jets and NO lights, not a single friggin’ light. Halle-f-ing-lujiah!
I was up early, I could hear the chatter of a Cactus Wren and sure enough, one was building her nest in a clump of opuntia at the front of the trailer. I love Cactus Wrens, they are chatty, bratty and cute as can be, they can wiggle their tail like no other!
She yelled at the cats when they got too close and she might have dive bombed them! The wind was howling, I was hoping it was going to die down but no luck! There were a lot of feathers being blown about! This is a Groot, Gamora and Rocket approved park. Gamora froclicked all over, chasing grasshoppers, climbing all over the stone walls, learning what pokey things were again, those chollo cactus!
I grabbed my camera and took the hike around the top of the campground, the Thunder Egg Trail. I started at the top of the campground and was immediately surprised to find a few flowers blooming and so many butterflies, small and medium sized, and bugs, so many grasshoppers. A black one, about 3.5″ long was spectacular, when it jumped/flew away it’s wings were bright red!
Scattered along the trail you come upon benches to sit, I did, the wind was cool but I was working getting up the hill. One bench is in front of some kind of cedar, or juniper, I could make out several small birds foraging in there, yellow, fast, flighty and eating bugs, must be Ruby Crowned Kinglet, one did finally show him/herself! As well as a Rock Wren and a small flock of Chipping Sparrows.
There was the coolest little yellow butterfly, Dainty sulphur, when it’s wings opened they were the most incredible shade of yellow, he was uncooperative so no picture of the wings open! There was a tan coloured butterfly as well, this little guy blended right in with the reeds he was sitting on! Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe) it’s called. I wasn’t expecting all this beauty in November!
By the time I got back Mike had everything ready to leave, I would have stayed an extra day or two but there were no sites available, Kartchner Caverns State Park awaited us, it will be goodbye to New Mexico and Hello Arizona! Stay tuned!