Step Outside - New Mexico WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - New Mexico 144 144 Thu, 18 Aug 2022 18:24:32 -0500 5 Cool Spots for ATV Off-Roading in New Mexico Riding through the mountains and deserts can take you along a trail a whole lot faster than your feet, and open up vistas you might not otherwise see. Since not every trail is open to all-terrain vehicles (ATV) you have to know where to go. Here are five areas throughout New Mexico that are ATV accessible and awesome! 

Put your paddle tires on your ATV because these 20 miles of trails across 800 acres of Bureau of Land Management land are full of sand, sand, and more sand. It’s a typical desert environment where you traverse sandy arroyo bottoms, climb sand dunes, and scoot between towering sandstone walls. The area is open year-round, weather permitting. Primitive camping available, but there are no services and no water. A permit is required, as are helmets for those under 18 years-old.

If you’re looking for a little night riding adventure, this is the place. It’s 6,000 acres with trails that run through predominately sandy washes and dry, barren desert. At 5,000 feet, there are trails along sandstone and limestone bluffs and into deep canyons. Views of the Rio Grande Valley are impressive during daylight hours. Permit required. Open year-round. Camping is primitive but allowable and free.

The lightly-maintained desert trails in the hills and mountains northwest of town are rocky, steep in spots, with little or no shade on mostly hard-pack terrain. There are, however, lots of diversions into rugged canyons, through desert chaparral and across craggy ridges. Great views of Las Cruces in the distance. It’s free and open year-round. Permit is required. Come prepared. Youth, under 18, must wear a helmet.

Covering 8,700 acres of Chihuahuan Desert, Aden Hills is a great spot for an off-roading adventure. According to the Bureau of Land Management, the area is “characterized by low mesquite or creosote-stabilized coppice dunes, and a variety of dropseed grasses, yucca, and cacti.” Aden Hills has been a designated off-roading area since 1993.

With a 1.2-mile track and 10 miles of ATV trails, this is an off-roader’s dream! The park covers 300 acres of land and is maintained by the Red Rock Motorsports Club. Events are regularly held in the area, bringing the off-roading community together. 

*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.

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10 Best Archery Outfitters in New Mexico Archery can be done in a variety of ways: You can practice target shooting indoors or outdoors, among friends or on your own, or you can try out bow hunting. An Olympic sport since 1900, it’s a dynamic—requiring great practice and patience. There’s a large community of archers in New Mexico, and these outfitters will stock you up with the best gear. 

Whether you’re hunting or just target shooting, you need equipment that gets high marks for precision and durability. That’s what you’ll find at this very large, full-service shop. It’s a licensed dealer for a number of top brands that include Hoyt, Mathews, Bowtech, to just name a few. Inventory includes both new and used equipment, as well as all of the accessories needed to get you sighted in. 

This shop lives up to its name…it has an excellent selection of bows for all ages, cases, arrows, quivers, targets and a variety of other equipment needed for this sport. The service department provides assistance with tuning, sighting, restringing and bow set-up. If you’re a hunter, you can also pick up a New Mexico Game and Fish license, a mandatory requirement for shooting any game. Well-situated to meet the needs of customers throughout the Four Corners region.

How about a birthday party at an archery range? It can happen here, at the largest indoor range in the southern part of the state. That’s not all. There are indoor league activities as well as year-round tournaments and lessons and kid’s camps. It’s a great place to try out a bow before buying. You’ll find an extensive selection of bows and a wide array of archery accessories. Customer service is top-notch and ranges from a basic tune-up to a super one that covers everything from safety-check to lubing.

Take a bow and some arrows into the forest and hunting becomes an entirely different experience than with a firearm. The experts here, who sell all types of hunting equipment, know that and can guide archers in appropriate equipment and accessory purchases. You’ll find bows, quivers, grips, targets and tools. Service options include bow tuning, bow speed testing, and custom bow strings. Buy, sell, transfer and trading equipment also an available alternative.

A 20-year history of serving the southwestern part of the state with specialized products for outdoor activities makes this shop a great first-stop for archery needs. Inventory includes top brands from industry leaders. A full-range of archery supplies available. Archery repairs done on-site. The proprietors of this locally-owned store turned a hobby, a passion for the outdoors, into a thriving business.

If you’re new to the sport of archery, the folks here will walk you through everything you need to know and provide all that you need to be successful. They have an indoor archery range for testing new equipment and for practicing. You’ll find a knowledgeable, friendly staff that offers accurate information and exceptional service. 

With seven indoor shooting lanes and an abundance of equipment to test you might be tempted to hang out here. You’d be welcome. The owners are new to shop keeping, but not new to hunting. They’re authorized dealers for PSE and Prime bows and for Vortex Optics, a first-rate scopes and binocular company. Expert training, a pro shop, great service and accessories galore will keep you coming back.

This is a shop for outdoorsy gear heads, specifically those who like to hunt. Hundreds of products fill the walls, shelves and racks. The archery department is stocked with bows, crossbows, arrows, crossbolts, broadheads, field points, targets and other items for hunting, recreational and competitive archery. On hand is also a bow press for tuning, adjustments and string replacements, as well as an expert who can cut and fletch arrows. 

With multiple locations in New Mexico, these all-purpose stores offer a wide-range of outdoor equipment to those who work or play outside. The archery department has hundreds of items for archers of all ages and experience. This one-stop-shop may cater to a diverse audience of farm, ranch and sports enthusiasts, but a 50-year history of service gives them a unique understanding of their customers’ needs.

Practice, practice, practice. That’s how you get better at anything. Improve your archery skills here six-days-a-week at the indoor range on your own or take some lessons from one of the experts on-hand. Pick out a new bow or exchange an old one with an upgrade. Inventory includes Diamond, Elite, and more, plus an assortment of accessories. Also offer bow service and tuning, custom orders and information on target shoots and competitions.

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5 Best Fishing Spots in New Mexico Good fishing spots are hard to find in large part because anglers are a tight-lipped bunch who like to keep this information close to their tackle box. Whether you’re looking to snag walleye and bluegill or rainbow trout and catfish, New Mexico boasts some of the best fishing in the Southwest. Here are the five best fishing spots in the state. 

At 8,200 acres and 13 miles in length, Ute Lake is one of the longest in the state. It’s fed by the Canadian River and Ute Creek. With lots of coves and inlets, it’s great fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and channel catfish. You can fish round-the-clock every day of the year. It’s worth noting that several state-record game fish have been caught here. There are paved ramps on both the north and south side for launching.

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The translucent blue-green water here is impressive. As is the fishing. Locals know that, traditionally, this lake is notorious for being one of the best for walleye and smallmouth bass. But at 25 miles-long and with 60 miles of shoreline, there’s plenty of room for other fish. You’ll find bass, crappie, and bluegill at the end of your line too. Night fishing is popular but beware of shallow water and sandbars in the river channels. There are two modern marinas for launching and a store just in case you forgot your bait.

The elusive tiger muskie has been known to make an appearance at the end of a fishing line here. They were introduced by the Department of Fish and Game to help control invasive species. It worked. You’ll find some of the biggest here, making for a great catching experience. The lake is also stocked with rainbow trout, native and cutthroat trout, and catfish. Access to popular fishing spots can be reached by car without difficulty. In winter months, this is a popular spot for ice fishing. There are no marinas, but two paved ramps provide boat access.

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The headwaters of this river are located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range north of town. It flows for 926 miles, eventually connecting with the Rio Grande, and offers plenty of access along its banks. It has populations of wild brown trout and is stocked with rainbow trout. In some of the smaller tributaries that feed the river you’ll also find the state fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout. There’s public access at the Dalton Day-Use area. Before you head to the river, stop in at Tererro General Store, which is the “last top for campers and fishermen along the Pecos River.” The store boasts any last-minute fishing supplies you might need.  

Trout fishermen know that this world-renowned river is the place to go for both rainbow and brown trout. Some studies indicate there may be 15,000 fish per mile and average between 16 and 18 inches, if not bigger for the lucky angler. The section of river below the Navajo Dam is known for its trophy-sized fish. If you’re looking for a fish fight, this is the place to go. There are areas that are catch-and-release only, as well as some that are limited to barbless flies and lures and a catch limit. The river is a popular fishing destination…so, the fish are wary! If you need supplies before you go, stop in at Abe’s Motel & Fly Shop, which has been “outfitting fishermen for the San Juan River since 1958.” Now that’s reliable. After your trip, grab a bite to eat at Abe’s and book a room to stay the night. 

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5 Great Paddleboarding Spots in New Mexico The latest in water sport trends takes you a bit above the water—offering a new perspective of scenic natural spaces and shimmering waters. Stand-up paddle-boarding requires a board, a paddle, a lifejacket, some good balance, and an un-derstanding of the basic technique. In New Mexico, you’ll find some of the most naturally stunning places in the U.S. Navigate local lakes and rivers and see New Mexico from a new angle. Here are five great paddleboarding spots in the state. 

If you’re looking to connect with nature in a unique way, then paddleboarding is a captivating choice and this is an appealing spot to do just that. It has 3,500 acres of tranquil water that is a comfortable temperature most of the year. Paddle up the Pecos River canyon for some breathtaking scenery of granite crags, a little birding, and peaceful contemplation. At four miles long, this relatively uncrowded reservoir is a great place to practice your paddleboarding technique. It’s also only about 30 to 40 feet deep. Jump in for a refreshing swim.

Surrounded by the colorful rock formations of the local red sandstone, this lovely lake sits between the rugged Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountain ranges in the northern part of the state. Get out on the water where you’ll see panoramic views of the nearby Cerro Pedernal peak, imposing mesas, piñon pines, and ju-nipers. This is a bring-your-own equipment destination. But with more than 5,000 acres to explore you can make a day or a weekend of it.

This dam was created as a diversion system to regulate water management of the Rio Grande. Because of that, there’s a sweet little oasis right outside of town that’s a haven for water lovers. From March through October, the park is a place to gracefully stand up and direct your gaze outward to the beauty of the surrounding area, complete with migrating birds and desert flora and fauna. This meditative exercise is a soothing relief from the daily routine. If you stay well into the evening, the night sky lights up with stars twinkling in reflection on the calm water.

Nesting bald and golden eagles, our majestic national symbol, are well-known and beloved residents of this slender lake set at the base of the Caballo Mountains. The prickly desert beauty is all around, as well as a 96-foot-tall earthen dam holding the Rio Grande River at bay. Because it’s slightly remote, this park doesn’t draw the numbers of visitors as some of the other lakes, so it’s a low-key spot to get on a board for a great cardio workout that doubles as an absolute stress reliever. At ca-pacity, it’s 11,500 total acres—plenty of wide open water to explore.

This, the state’s first park, is really a series of nine deep lakes along a limestone slope in the Pecos River Valley. The dark blue water of these almost perfectly circular lakes is created by aquatic plants and is in stark contrast to the muted tones of the surrounding desert. Only one of the nine, Lea Lake, is open for water activities, but it’s a definitive summertime swimming hole. A day of paddling around the lake is a low impact workout that’s just plain fun. It’s hot and there’s little shade, go prepared.

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5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in New Mexico When the weather really heats up, New Mexico is full of adventure opportunities that give you a taste of the great outdoors. Kayaking is a supreme way to explore stunning natural spaces with friends and family. And if you’re inexperienced, don’t you worry! You can take along a guide or participate in a few lessons before heading out. Here are five great spots to start off your kayaking adventure in New Mexico. 

The Albuquerque stretch of this river provides a gentle and safe place to learn how to kayak. This is a family-friendly experience on calm water with no technical rapids. The best time to float on this stretch is in the spring runoff season—it’s a little deeper than in the summer time. There are a number of places to launch, too. Generally, most river bridges have walking access to the river. Overall, this is a spectacular way to see wildlife in Albuquerque. 

Nestled in the Jemez Mountains up the road from town is this beautiful, pristine lake, ringed by ponderosa pines. The vibe here is mellow. It’s a perfect place to put a kayak on the water and learn how to paddle. The Rio Cebolla meanders through the park, too. Even at 7,650 feet, the lake is easily accessible, but is at its best in spring and summer. Take your pole for some kayak fishing. You might just hook a rainbow trout.

This lake is 40 miles-long with 200 miles of shoreline. You could go from a beginner to expert kayaker paddling all 40 miles. The warm climate of southern New Mexico makes this a popular place year-round. The sandy beaches are ideal for staging prior to launching a kayak. Paddle near the dam, that regulates the Rio Grande River, and you’ll get a great perspective on the geological formation for which the lake is named (that presumably resembles an elephant). 

The area of the Rio Chama, a tributary of the Rio Grande, is known for its tranquil waters, unlike the white water farther up river. It’s just right for children, seniors, and anyone who’s looking for a relaxing day on the water. Drift along past sightings of Indian petroglyphs, river animals, and some of the best birdwatching around.

Together at last! #riochama

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This is a no-wake lake. That makes it an excellent place to kayak without the stress of boats tearing around the lake making waves. It’s located within the boundaries of the Pueblo de Cochiti Indian Reservation and was created when the Cochiti Dam, one of the largest earth-fill dams in the U.S., was constructed. There are two public areas: the Cochiti and the Tetilla Peak Recreation areas. A fun place for families looking for a first-time kayak experience with kids. There are incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, too. 

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5 Energizing Hikes in New Mexico A hike is an invigorating way to exercise that gets you out-and-about in the great outdoors. It doesn’t take much—a pair of shoes, a hat, a water bottle, and the desire to see nature on its own terms. Here are five inspiring and energizing hikes that take you through some of New Mexico’s most beautiful terrain.

This trail, roughly eight miles roundtrip, is the longest in Chaco Culture National Historic Park. It winds its way past Pueblo and Navajo petroglyphs etched into a cliff face, the spectacular “Supernova” pictograph, the Penasco Blanco great house where you’ll see a number of great kivas, as well as remnants of an irrigation system that included canals, ditches, and storage ponds. At certain points in the ruins, there are lovely views of Chaco Canyon and Escavada and Chaco wash. It’s relatively level, but the sand along the way makes for some difficult hiking.

This trail takes hikers right across sections of a very rough lava flow, making trav-ersing strenuous but exciting. Along the way, the trail winds through a vibrant forest of aspen, ponderosa pine, piñon and juniper, and areas of beautiful wildflowers. The trail also crosses a lava bridge as you wind your way around the lava tubes, one of which is the longest in North America. Be sure to get a permit to explore the caves in this same area. Not a super long hike, but one that takes you over some rugged terrain.

Views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia, San Pedro and Ortiz mountains greet you when you finally make your way up this, at times, steep climb. The trail follows the Tesuque Creek for awhile before making its way up and into the San-gre de Cristo Mountains. The three-mile roundtrip loop is challenging and makes for a good workout.  

In the desert, the length of a trail doesn’t define its difficulty—conditions do. This trail is primitive and the surrounding area is desolate so the almost four-mile out-and-back can be exhausting. However, the landscape it takes you through is spec-tacular: sweeping views of the New Mexican terrain for miles, views of chaparral covered canyons, an occasional cactus in bloom, and plenty of lizards and other reptiles (watch your step!). 

This day hike takes you through a thick forest wilderness to a crest of the Manzano Mountains. The seven-mile trail traverses through a wilderness area that features a waterfall, multiple creek crossings, occasional wildlife spotting, and beautiful scenery filled with wildflowers, giant ferns, and striking aspen trees. This high elevation, out-and-back trail is best done from April through November.

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5 Best Dirt Motorcycle Trails in New Mexico Want to rev an engine and zoom across the New Mexico desert or along a forested trail on a dirt bike? There may not be a more scenic place to hit the trails on a dirt bike than New Mexico. Grab your helmet and check out our favorite spots. 

The ride along many of these desert single-track trails overlooks the Pecos River, providing beautiful scenic vistas, if you take the time to look. There are three square miles of mostly hard pack terrain to crisscross that take you up some hills, along sandy washes and over loose, rocky sections. No trees along the way means no shade so take plenty of water. Camping available with restroom facilities but there’s no potable water. Open year-round. Entrance fee is $3 and an OHV permit required. Youth, under 18, must wear a helmet.

There’s some big air that can happen on the 14 square-miles of trails through desert scrub brush west of town at this 8,700-acre off road area. The 50 trails are fast and sandy with plenty of exciting terrain features. It’s free to ride out here, but an OHV permit is required. Open year-round. Helmets are required for anyone under 18. Primitive camping is available.

This small trail system is great for those dual-sport motorcycle enthusiasts who love to ride both on and off-road. There are three miles of single track trails through this part of the spectacular Lincoln National Forest. The trail loop begins at Silverwood Campground and ends at the Silver Overflow Campground. An OHV permit is required but there are no entrance fees, only campground fees. Open year-round. Helmets a must for those under 18.

Gordy's Hill is one of the most thrilling places for a dirt biking adventure in the whole state. Situated on 6,000 acres, this scenic spot overlooks the Rio Grande Valley. The best part? It's accessible to a variety of skill levels. Enjoy picturesque routes with immaculate canyons and limestone bluffs on trails that can offer a little bit of a challenge no matter how exerpienced you are.  

With 20 square miles of open riding, you can really ride at full throttle. The landscape is relatively flat and sandy, with a smattering of hard pack. You will reach some fenced boundaries, since the area is bordered by a bombing range and some private property, but there is so much space it can’t curb your enthusiasm. Safety flags are recommended. No fees, but an OHV permit is required. Opened year-round with very primitive camping. Under 18, helmets required.

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5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in New Mexico Hiking in New Mexico will provide all types of hiker a memorable experience. The in-credible landscape of mesas and mountains, forests and lakes, desert and plains provides such a diversity of grandeur and splendor it’s impossible to not just put on a pair of hiking boots and get out on a trail. Here are five that showcase the best of the state.

The Rio Grande Gorge is a 50-mile-long canyon teeming with a diversity of plant and animal life. The river, itself, is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The views from the top are magnificent panoramas of sage-brush dotted high desert mesas. The hike takes you down into this rift valley where you’ll pass stands of ancient juniper and ponderosa pine trees. As part of the Wild Rivers Recreation Area, you might happen upon big horn sheep or mule deer. Look up for spottings of red-tailed hawks and migratory birds. The moderate to difficult hike has a 1,300-foot elevation gain. Take plenty of water … and a camera.

This 3,100-mile trail traverses 770 miles of magnificent New Mexican landscape. An eight-mile, well-marked loop of it passes right through the beautiful San Pedro Parks Wilderness, a vibrant area marked with crystal clear streams, lush, grassy meadows dotted with wildflowers and dense stands of spruce, conifers and aspens. The man-made San Gregorio Reservoir is along the way for a peaceful resting point. In the fall, you might see deer, elk and bear. Although the elevation is about 10,000 feet, the trail is moderate trek through stunning scenery in the peace and quiet of the mountains. Lots of snow in winter.

The Pecos Wilderness, where this trail is located, is home to the highest number of 12,000 foot-plus peaks in the state. It is a true mountain wilderness complete with invigorating alpine lakes, thickets of fir and pine trees on steep rugged ridges, broad mesas, and gorgeous wildflower-laden meadows. This 12-mile out-and-back trail is a comfortable and moderate trek along a well-maintained path. It climbs steadily to the picture-perfect goal of Stewart Lake in the shadow of Santa Fe Baldy Mountain, the highest peak in the Santa Fe County. If you take your dog, be sure it’s leashed.

This is not a strenuous hike, but it’s covered with all manner of eye-catching rock art that makes it a dramatic one. With more than 21,000 petroglyphs to look at the mile-and-a-half out-and-back trail could be an exhaustive walk. Carved by the Jornada Mogollon people, the sunbursts and animals and geometric designs carved more than 1,000 years ago are evidence of another culture’s form of communication. The trail winds through the basalt rock on the ridge of the Three Rivers Valley and through desert landscape. Who really knows what all those horned beings and crazy-haired figures mean, but it’s a fun place to let your imagination go wild.

Dripping Springs Natural Area is a desert terrain dotted with mesquite trees, creosote bushes and native grasses. This three-mile loop trail provides breathtaking views of the Organ Mountains, named for the pointed pinnacle shapes reminiscent of the pipes of an organ. The area is noted for its weeping walls—there’s a waterfall along the way. The hike is moderate, through desert scrub and oak woodlands. It has about a 500-foot elevation gain, but since you start at 5,500 feet it’s a noticeable difference. There are historic ruins of an old hotel and a sanatorium to explore. Keep your eyes peeled for a golden eagle, mule deer or even the elusive mountain lion.

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5 Exhilarating Jet Skiing Spots in New Mexico Discovering the majestic, wide-open lakes of New Mexico that allow for a jet skiing adventure is a true treat. These spots are unforgettable because of their glistening water and stunning surrounding nature. Fly across the open waters, catch some air, and take in the beauty at these five exhilarating jet skiing spots in New Mexico. 

Located at about 7,000 feet, this high mountain reservoir is filled by the brisk waters of the Rio Chama. The best jet skiing time is mid-season when the water warms a little. The five-mile-long lake is a mile wide and about 2,500 acres of boating fun. No wake zones are in place at specific spots—be prepared to slow down. Other types of watersports are allowed on the lake, so share the space. This is also a great birding spot for bald eagles and other birds.

You won’t find a crowd at this lake, which makes it a great place to do some figure eights, jump a few wakes, and get some speed going. The Pecos River runs through this reservoir which creates canyons to venture into. They’re narrow and shallow, plus there’s a no wake zone, but the scenery is spectacular and the wildlife abundant. Islands in the middle are worth circumnavigating. With 3,500 acres of relatively warm water in this arid part of the state, it’s viable throughout the year.

From the seat of a personal watercraft at lake level, the magnificence of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range on the horizon is awe-inspiring. The water is serene, allowing for a smooth ride across this 1,100-acre lake. It is a popular place for windsurfers and Hobie Cat racers, so no cutting through the regatta, it’s not allowed. The wind picks up regularly creating some white caps just right for flying across.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier spot to scoot across than this lake’s surface. Created in 1939 by the Sumner Dam, this 4,500-acre reservoir has miles of shoreline to explore. You can ride all the way to the dam which is holding back the Pecos River. Along the way, venture into some of the coves for wildlife viewing and slice through some lovely, pristine water. Located in an area of grassy plains, it gets a little windy, but early morning and evening time are calm.

Plan to spend days here jet skiing around the state’s second largest lake. Located at 6,000 feet, the water coming in from the San Juan River keeps things on the chilly side. On a summer’s day, however, skimming across this long, skinny reservoir is a thrilling escapade. Long fingers stretch off the main portion into canyons and coves rife with possibilities to see birds, wildlife, incredible vistas and spectacular habitat. Be sure the gas tank is full!

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ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Red Sands OHV Area For a successful off-roading day, you’ll need a few things: An excellent space to take your off-highway vehicle, a great restaurant to fuel up before and after, and a comfortable place to sleep after a long day. Here’s how to have an excellent ATV off-roading adventure in New Mexico! 

If you try nothing else, get the big-as-a-dinner plate homemade cinnamon roll, filled with nuts and raisins and slathered in icing. It’s the way to kick-start a day of off-roading. Comfort food is what the menu is all about: biscuits and gravy, country scrambles, pancakes and fried egg sandwiches. A cozy place that’s just like home. Only open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. for breakfast and lunch.

There are some iconic oddities in this country that shouldn’t be missed. This is one of them. Ham, short for Holloman Aeromedical which was the lab where he was trained, was the first chimpanzee in space. He was trained to do a few simple tasks as a test to determine if humans would be able to perform the same tasks. He came through with flying colors in his 16-minute flight aboard a Mercury Redstone rocket. His reward? An apple. After that, they retired his space suit and he lived out his life in a zoo. He’s buried here, memorialized by a bronze plaque. 

Flying across desert terrain, racing up-and-over sandy dunes across more than 100 miles of trails is just plain fun. This large open-ride area, which covers more than 12,000 acres, is a playground of hard-packed trails and sandy play sections. There are no fees, but a Mexico OHV permit is required. There are no facilities on-site, but the area accommodates primitive camping.

This park was named in honor of a local rancher who settled here in the 19th century. His homestead near Dog Canyon consisted of a ranch house, barns, corrals, reservoir and irrigation system. The ranch house is well-preserved and offers a glimpse of what life was like in the hot, arid desert more than 100 years ago. There are bits and pieces of the irrigation system still visible. 

Get out of the desert and into the cool mountain air of for some dinner. Cowboy heritage and good grub greet you at this family-owned restaurant. Getting here on Highway 82 takes you along a scenic highway through the Sacramento Mountains and through the only road tunnel in the state. The menu highlight is the famous mesquite wood cooked barbecue, but there are plenty of other mouthwatering choices. Depending on the day, there are some all-you-can-eat specials…catfish seems to be the local favorite.

Located right smack dab in the center of town, this historic building has only eight rooms available, just enough for the ghost who hangs out here to greet every guest. It was built in the 1930s and still has much of that era’s distinctive flair. Rooms are large with rustic furniture, claw foot tubs and a few have kitchenettes and a balcony overlooking the town’s main street. The cozy beds are welcome comfort at the end of a long day. 

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5 Great Hiking Trails in New Mexico When it comes to natural beauty, the Land of Enchantment is king. Across New Mexico, you’ll find some of the most challenging hikes in the nation because of both terrain and climate. But if you’re looking to explore something a little more family-friendly, we’ve got that too. Now gear up and get ready to navigate these five magnificent hiking trails in New Mexico. 

The Gila Wilderness was the first to be designated as such in the world and con-tinues to be one of the largest uninhabited backcountry in the U.S. This 20-mile loop is an awe-inspiring hike that takes you through narrow pine-covered canyons up 8,600 feet to the top of the mesa. Along the way, you’ll see impressive geological features, as well as remnants of indigenous people’s culture. This is a rugged and difficult hike that can be done in a day, but is more fun as a two-day camping overnighter. Don’t miss the Gila Cliff dwellings! 

The Wheeler Peak Wilderness is in the Carson National Forest, which encom-passes more than 1.5 million acres of mixed-use land. It is one of six wilderness areas within forest’s boundaries. This 10 mile out-and-back hike takes you through mature pine, fir and aspen trees, past Horseshoe Lake and along the ridgeline between Wheeler Peak and Simpson Peak. Plan for a full day of hiking along easy to moderate trail. Elevation gain is about 2,000 feet. Best done between May and October. Great for birding and nature walks.

The trailhead for this hike begins at Battleship Rock, looks just like it sounds. The midway point for this six-mile hike is McCauley Hot Springs, where a relaxing foot soak makes the return down the mountain all the more enjoyable. Along the way, you’ll see impressive obsidian rocks from the caldera, groves of Ponderosa pine, stunning red sandstone mountains, and a breathtaking waterfall. The winding trail is a series of switchbacks up the mountain, with some very steep sections. Be sure to follow the trail signs. 

This loop trail is about five miles roundtrip, which will likely take 3-4 hours to trav-erse. With only 270 feet of elevation, and a relatively short distance, this moderate trail is kid-friendly. Take in the scenic overlook views of beautiful Chacoan buildings. The trail is also dog-friendly (but make sure to have a leash for your four-legged friend!). This is an excellent, beautiful hike the whole family will enjoy. 

This trail may be 16 miles, but it’s easily navigable because it’s paved. The trail passes through the Rio Grande Valley State Park, and is accessible for hikers, runners, and bicyclists. The area is even wheelchair accessible. Have a baby in a stroller? No problem. This trail can accommodate. Guests can access the trail from one of the following areas: Alameda Boulevard, Paseo del Norte, Montaño Road, Campbell Road, and several other locations. Enjoy scenic views of Albuquerque along the Paseo del Bosque Trail. 

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5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in New Mexico With the right pair of shoes and a little determination, trail running in New Mexico can be one of the most rewarding athletic experiences. With vast expanses of desert terrain and spaces of lush vegetation, the diverse topography of New Mexico makes for an excellent trail running state. Here are five awesome spots to do so in the Land of Enchantment.  

This paved urban trail wanders along the banks of the Rio Grande River for 16 miles through the center of town and the Rio Grande Valley State Park. It was put in place as part of an open land initiative and is just lovely— beautiful, lush vegetation, flowing water, wildlife and birds of all types and sizes help make the environment a pastoral oasis. Most of the trail is away from streets so there are no cars to contend with. If you run the whole trail you’ll pass the Rio Grande Conservation Center, Albuquerque Bio Park and the Zoo. Bosque translates to forest, so it’s shaded, mostly by cottonwoods. 

Built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp, this trail is still in good shape. Under the oversight of the Cibola National Forest for the past 75 years, it’s a wide smooth multi-use trail that’s been well-maintained. It’s basically a run up the mountain and then a loop back down. Along the way, you’ll experience the heady aroma of ponderosa pine, junipers, and piñon pine. At the top, is the historic McGaffey Fire Lookout Tower. Take a moment to enjoy the panoramic view of the landscape below. Switchbacks to the top of the ridge make this run a little easier on the uphill—the downhill is just fun.

For most of the year, spring through fall, this multi-use trail is a must-run. On a mesa above the Rio Grande and Red River, it traverses the Wild Rivers Recreation Area. As you run along the canyon rim, at just about any point, there are panoramic views of the 800-foot canyon below, snowcapped peaks in the distance and the breathtaking desert plains laid out before you. It’s about a five-mile loop with a 400-foot elevation gain—all gravel, packed and smooth.

Part of a mosaic of trails that wander through the Gila National Forest, this 11-mile network is accessible year-round. Running the entire network would give you an invigorating workout. The Continental Divide cuts right through the entire running maze and connects trails to other sections of the forest. This largely unspoiled area is an outdoor tableau of majestic mountain scenery. The area is also home to lots of wildlife, including black bear and timber wolf—be on the lookout. Elevation is about 6,500 feet.

There are a number of trails in this area that actually overlook the Rio Grande River Gorge and provide stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Most of the terrain is fairly level, no huge ascents or descents. As you cross the mesa, you’ll run along the gorge, into forested areas and wide-open meadows, all the while surrounded by sagebrush, piñon, Junipers, rocks and arroyos. Accessible year-round.

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5 Awesome Campgrounds for Families in New Mexico Pack up the cooler, grab your tent and sleeping bags, and load up the car with the kids—it’s time to head into the wilderness! Reacquaint yourself with nature and introduce your family to what life is like without technology. Here are five great campgrounds to visit in New Mexico! 

This newly-refurbished campground accommodates tent and RV camping for single, double and even triple-sized units. It sits on a hill near spectacular sandstone cliffs in the Santa Fe National Forest with views of the Jemez Valley. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, as well as those for off-road vehicles, plus wildlife viewing and some fishing opportunities in the small stream nearby. Picnic tables, campfire rings, vault toilets and drinking water on-site. Take a drive along the Cerro Pelado Lookout for views of an ancient volcanic crater.

Take the family into the forest for a great outdoor adventure at the base of Hermit’s Peak. Activities include hiking, biking, fishing, picnicking, horseback riding, climbing, whitewater paddling, wildlife watching, and in winter, a variety of snow sports. You are up-close-and-personal to the nature that surrounds you. Tent and RV camping available at 13 camping units complete with picnic tables, fire ring, and grills. There are vault toilets, bear proof food bins and potable water. No utility hookups, dump stations or shower. A taste of roughin’ it for those looking to escape the urban setting! 

You can choose the type of camping experience you want since both developed and primitive campsites are available here. The difference is that the former has amenities and the latter doesn’t. The primitive site, however, includes boat-in and beach camping—who needs amenities when there’s a beach? Activities are plentiful: swimming, boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, water skiing, sailing, bird and wildlife spotting, hiking and mountain biking trails and a variety of kid-specific educational programs. There’s a visitor center with exhibits and a small store. Dog friendly, too! 

This park truly lives up to its name. Visitors are encouraged to prospect and remove specimens. You can take out up to 15 pounds of rocks. It sits on the rugged slopes of the Little Florida Mountains where you can search for quartz, crystals, geodes, jasper, perlite and a host of other minerals. The campground has 29 spaces as well as vault toilets, showers, potable water, and a dump station. It’s a great place for picnicking, bird and wildlife viewing, hiking, with some interpretive trails. There are educational programs for kids, too.

You can put you camp chair right on the shore of Lake Heron and wiggle your toes in the sand from your campsite. Camping at this beautiful, peaceful spot is made even more enjoyable since the park has been designated a “quiet lake”—no-wake speeds. It’s a great place to fish, canoe and kayak, swim, paddle board and sail. There’s hiking on miles of trails where you might see elk, deer, marmot, bald eagles, osprey and maybe even a bear. Campground amenities include 250 developed campsites, some with electric sites, potable water, RV dump station, restrooms with water, showers, vault toilets, and beach and boat-in camping.

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10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in New Mexico Gone fishin’ is more than just a figure of speech. For many, it’s a passionate pastime. Sitting on the banks of a river as it courses by, letting a fishing line drift along waiting for the telltale tug that signals a snagged fish is a relaxing and fun way to enjoy the outdoors, and to bring home some dinner. But make sure you have the right gear before you go. Here are the 10 best bait and tackle shops in New Mexico! 

You certainly don’t need a custom rod to fish, but it you’re hankering for one, this is the place to go. These handmade rods are made with top-quality materials and are quality workmanship that’s built to last. You’ll also find plenty of off-the-shelf rods, plus lures, line, flies and everything else you might need to catch a fish. Classes in fly fishing, casting, fly tying, and even rod building available.

Tying in action! #projecthealingwaters #flytying #flyfishing #supportourtroops

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This multi-layered family-run business has been a cornerstone of the local community for 60 years. It began as a resource for fly fisherman looking for trout in the cold waters of the San Juan River. Throughout the years, it’s morphed into a full-service company catering to all types of fishermen. Product inventory includes wader, rods, reels, plus one of the largest fly selections in the area.

The town’s first fly shop is still going strong more than 30 years later. Now, with 2,500 square-feet of retail space, it’s even bigger and better. It boasts the largest selection of fly fishing equipment, tackle and outdoor clothing in all price ranges and for all levels of ability in the northern part of the state. New to the sport? They offer classes and instruction, outside, knee deep in the river. Rental equipment available.

When you start talking Canadian night crawlers, water dogs, minnows, and salmon eggs it’s a good bet you’re in a bait shop. This store bills itself as one that’s operated by fishermen for fishermen. As such, you’ll find an extensive selection of lures, a fish cleaning station, pull through boat lot, cabins and fishing guides standing by to take you to the best fishing holes. Guided fishing trips include rods, reel, tackle, fish filleting and a knowledgeable guide.

The hard-to-catch tiger muskie is prevalent at Bluewater Lake State Park. A hundred or so yards from the shore is this store, a local hangout due to the owner’s knowledge of the local fishing scene. Step inside and you’ll find bait, tackle, lures, rods, reels and other gear, plus information about where the best spots are for muskie, as well as trout. Local fishing updates posted weekly.

Whatever you need, or want, to catch a fish, you’ll find here. Located right on the main drag in town, you can’t miss the giant blue fly fishing sign. Plan on spending some time here. Once inside the store is packed wall-to-wall with clothes, rods, reels, bait, lures, line and the largest eclectic selection of flies you might every come across. A good jumping off point before heading to the river.

This mobile bait and tackle outfit will come to you. It’s fully-stocked with red wiggler worms, European night crawlers, power bait, garlic salmon eggs, plus hooks, sinkers, floats, spinners, spoons, fishing line and stringers. If you need something after hours, they’ll come to you. Rental fishing gear also available.

Situated near some of the premier fishing areas in the state, this is truly an all-service enterprise. Everything you need from flies to bait to lures, in addition to rods, reels, spinners, knives, rain gear, waders and clothes is at hand. You can also book a guided fly fishing trip that includes rod, reel, flies, food, and a local guide who knows the rivers. Take a fly fishing lesson and practice trying to catch trout, northern pike, carp, walleye and fresh water Kokanee salmon.

Explore the Pecos, Chama, Rio Grande, Brazos, and Jemez rivers with a guide well-versed in river lore. Before heading out, though, pick up any last-minute gear from a wide-ranging selection of top quality products—outdoor clothing, fishing vests, lures and flies, fly tying materials and tools, rods, reels, wading boots and more. Fly fishing and fly tying classes take place regularly.

The trick to catching a fish? Patience. And knowing the best spots. Owner Ed has been casting a line in the local rivers long enough to know where those are. In addition to an inventory of various lures, flies, bait and tying supplies, he also custom builds rods and flies to order. Plus, he’ll share his local knowledge. 

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5 Awesome RV Campsites in New Mexico Being on the open road in New Mexico in an RV is the ultimate road trip. Beautiful landscapes roll by under cobalt skies, dotted with puffy white clouds. It’s mesmerizing. You could drive forever. But no need, there are some great RV parks perfect for a road trip layover. Here are five great ones. 

When you’re driving your home around the country, it’s refreshing to find a place to park that feels like, well, home. This 12-acre park has big sites with lots of space, patios and picnic tables. You’re close to shopping areas which makes restocking supplies easy. Amenities include wide sites and good roads, full hook-ups with 30 or 50-amp service, laundry facilities, and free high speed internet. The Mesilla Valley, framed by the Organ Mountains, is about as pretty as New Mexican landscape gets. Old Mesilla Village is just a few miles away—a great place to discover another era.

A river, the Rio Bonito, runs through this lovely park and if you get up early enough you might just catch a fish since it’s stocked regularly. Set in the Lincoln National Forest, the home of Smokey the Bear, this peaceful and scenic campground is an ideal place to relax and unwind. Services include large, convenient sites for 30 by 60 RVs, pull-throughs with water, electric and sewer, campfire rings at every site, a dump station, free Wi-Fi at each site, spots on the river, as well as some with a forest backdrop. Ruidoso is just a short hop away and Bonito Lake is a three-mile jaunt.

If you’re tired of getting your kicks on Route 66 and need a place to park for the night, you’d have to drive for miles to find a better spot. With 100 different sites available, some with full hook-ups for rigs up to 90 feet-long, 50-amp services, water, sewer and cable hook-ups and free Wi-Fi, this is a full-service park. The beauty of the surrounding desert is on full-display, as is the heat in summer—good thing there’s a pool to cool off in. There’s also a gift shop and a barbecue restaurant on the premises that delivers to your site.

Whether you need to stay for a day, week, month, or longer, this cozy park can accom-modate any length of visit. There are more than 150 level pull-through sites with full hook-ups. The sites are spacious, under shaded trees with picnic tables for outdoor eating. After a road-weary day of travel, enjoy a dip in the heated pool or a soak in the hot tub. Two laundry areas, a large recreation hall and free Wi-Fi and cable TV round out the services. There’s even a dog park to keep your pet happy and healthy.

Take a sunrise or sunset stroll around the lake, maybe even drop a fishing line in and see what you snag at this island-like retreat right off I-25. Spend some time here and enjoy the beauty of the Rio Grande and the panoramic desert scenery. There are 50 full-service sites that include water, sewer, 30 and 50-amp electricity, Wi-Fi and Direct TV. Catch up on your laundry at the laundromat. All sites are covered and equipped with private grills. Restock, if necessary, at the full-service convenience store on-site. When you’re relaxed and ready, Albuquerque is just down the road!

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