City of Rocks State Park is located in the Chihuahua Desert region of southwestern New Mexico at an elevation of 5,200 feet. It receives its name because it resembles a “city” from the geologic formation made up of large rocks rising as high as 40 feet in the middle of the grass plans.
Many of the rocks are close together with small separations that bears a resemblance to “alley ways” between buildings. Some of the “alley ways” are large enough to walk between the huge rocks.
The main feature of the park is to explore the rocks. Paths wind through the maze of stones sometimes making me become disoriented. Many of the stones are easily climbable while others are a little more difficult but I have always enjoyed the accomplishment of challenging activity.
One of my favorite activities in unusual rock formations is to search for odd shaped rocks. The City of Rocks site had plenty of odd shaped rocks that will leave you wondering “how did that happen?”
Most of the boulders are much taller than anything within eyesight turning the park a sun drenched oasis.
The boulders can become hot from the sun exposure but there is plenty of shade to be found under the native trees, the shade of the boulders or under stone arches.
The park has a designate Desert Botanical Garden but the entire area is really a natural botanic garden. Almost all of the park is in its natural state with small bushes, native trees, cactus and grasses. Deserts are not known for colorful plants but some of the small flowering plants can be pretty if you take the time to look at them closely.
The park has 41 camp sites that allow visitors to stay overnight. At first glance these sites may not look like more than a picnic table and a fire pit but each site is located with a picturesque backdrop of huge boulders. During the heat of the day, it might be wise to stay in the camper but mornings and evenings should be really nice. At night, the remote location should provide for light pollution free views of the star filled sky.
Outside of the stone city the park has over 5 miles of hiking trails that allow visitors to experience the Chihuahua Desert and sea the beauty of the desert plant and wildlife.
The City of Rocks State Park is a geologic oddity in an unexpected place. The vast number of giant boulder grouped together in a relatively small location rising up from the grassy plains look like a city of rocks.
While planning a trip to the southwest, I discovered this park and thought it would be a great place to see. My experience in the park actually exceeded my expectations. We went to the park for a day trip but we were having fun and would have enjoyed staying longer.
Climbing on the rocks made me feel like a teenager again and standing on top of the tall rocks provides a great view of the rocks and the surrounding area. Many of the rock formations make for great photo spots and there seemed to be endless photo opportunities.
Aside from the rock, the surrounding area has easy hiking trails that lets you easily experience the desert and surprisingly there is wildlife to be seen also. The park is home to 35 species of birds but around 150 species have reportedly been seen in the park along with other small animals.
I always try to find places that are not on everyone’s top 10 list of place to see. Going to the City of Rock State Park turned out to be a great experience. Who knew you could have so much fun on a bunch of rocks!