This City in New Mexico Rocks

On the way back from Silver City, New Mexico last week, my mom and I stopped in at the City of Rocks, a massive rock outcropping in the middle of the desert.


Admittedly, when we turned off on Highway 61, we were dubious City of Rocks existed at all, because we had heard of “beautiful, towering rock formations” but there was nothing on the horizon besides vast, flat plain. Granted, a gorgeous flat plain but a flat plain nonetheless.


But after about five minutes (and passing a “Hot Springs Resort” that was not resort-like in the least) the road made a bend and we descended into a valley, and it was as if we had unfolded a pop-up book of the desert.


Here in the middle of what seemed like nothing were mounds of rock up to forty feet high, as if a giant had swept pebbles into a pile.


A 3D blip on a 1D landscape.



I love the desert.


The City of Rocks was formed when a giant volcano erupted 39.4 million years ago and sent lava soaring across the countryside. Wind and rain over the millennia have worn away the earth surrounding these rocks, like an archaeologist uncovering a relic with his brush on a dig.


The narrow “streets” between the rocks reminded me of the narrow streets in Italian villages we saw this past month.



Ocotillo dot the landscape around the rocks, making for a very picturesque desert scene.



The visitor center is contemporary and chic, and looks like the setting for a Longmire episode. (Pardon the obsession..)



Just as I was posing by some rocks for a picture, a voice behind my shoulder shouted “HEY!” and I jumped. I turned around to see a giant white Pyranees and a man waving from his RV, which was parked behind a nearby boulder.

One of the best aspects of City of Rocks is the camping privacy, as the RV and tent locations are tucked behind rocks and dispersed along roads winding throughout the park. Picnic tables are private and scenic as well. Considering that one of my least favorite things about camping is the sight of RV’s and tents lined up next to each other, the City of Rocks is a PERFECT camping and picnicking destination in my book!


The entry fee is only $5, and we found it to be worth every penny.

A must see if you’re ever in Southwest New Mexico.


Official website here:

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