City of Rocks State Park
At least fifty thousand people a year visit southwest New Mexico's City of Rocks State Park, located about mid-way between Deming and Silver City. The exotic collection of volcanic "art," set in the middle of a grama grass plain, was formed by a huge explosion called the Kneeling Nun eruption about thirty four million nine hundred thousand years ago.
Located in the Mimbres Valley at the northeastern edge of the Chihuahuan desert at an elevation of five thousand two hundred feet above sea level, the "city" is a fantasyland of wind- and water-sculpted pastel rock columns. Only six other places in the world have similar formations.
By day, the rocks entice the explorer. Visitors can scramble over sun-warmed boulders, walk under cool stone arches through the winding "streets" and dim "alleyways" of the volcanic metropolis, hike up a rimrock trail to picnic and to photograph the panoramic views from the Observation Point, or sit in quiet solitude by a peaceful desert botanical garden at sunset.
At night, campers share sleeping accommodations with bald and golden eagles nesting forty to fifty feet overhead in the rock walls, nocturnal wildlife prowling unobtrusively among the massive stones, and sometimes coyotes serenading the star-filled sky.
People from centuries long past camped among the same rocks, seeking shelter from the elements and predators. Arrowheads, shards of pottery and mortars called "Indian wells," left behind by the prehistoric Mimbrenos and other tribes, are still found among the rocks and trails. Crosses carved into the stone surfaces were left by passing Spaniards.
Rates & Fees
Day use Five dollars per day per vehicle, fifteen dollars per day per bus, no charge for hikers or bicyclers.
Overnight camping (day use fee included) Eight dollars per night per primitive site, $10.00 dollars per night per developed site, four dollars each for electrical and sewage hookups
Annual rates are available at all New Mexico state parks, with discounts for seniors and physically disabled visitors. There is no charge for disabled veterans. For further information contact:
New Mexico State Parks
P.O. Box 1147
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504
PDF file Park Brochure
PDF file Park Map
Reservations are available from May 1 through October 31 for camp sites with electrical hook-upsand for areas for group camping, picnics and BBQ’s.
Open All year
Gate hours 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Visitor center hours 8: 00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (depending on availability of host or Park Manager)
A uniquely designed visitor center/office complex includes a large display area and restrooms and hot showers.
There are restrooms and picnic sites with tables and water hydrants scattered throughout the one-square-mile park. There are also a group campfire area, BBQ group area, RV campground. Several picnic and camp sites with tables and fireplaces are concealed among the city's maze-like streets, amid trees and rock walls, providing a relaxing sense of privacy.
There are no museums or stores at City of Rocks State Park. Food, gas and other supplies must be purchased in nearby Deming or Silver City.
Programs & Events
New Mexico's Cultural Heritage Week, May 12 through 21, is celebrated with a "Desert Grocery Store" presentation, desert botanical gardening education, and archaeological interpretive tours. Interpretive tours, desert garden lectures and other activities are available to groups if arrangements are made with the park staff in advance. For further information, call or send a written request or e-mail to:
City of Rocks State Park
P.O. Box 54, State Hwy. 61, Mile Post #3,
Faywood, New Mexico 88034
The visitor center, all restrooms and several picnic and camp sites are accessible to the handicapped.
Rules, Regulations, & Precautions
Know all park rules and regulations, which are posted in the park.
Drive only on designated roadways and obey posted speed limits.
Camp only in designated areas.
Keep pets on leashes. (It is a good idea to have proof of current rabies immunizations when traveling with pets in New Mexico since it is required by law in some of the state’s recreation areas.)
Do not feed the wildlife.
Be aware that vandalizing, defacing, or removing antiquities, minerals, plants or wildlife is absolutely prohibited.
Bring your own firewood since none is available in the park.
Bring and drink ample water, at least one gallon per day per person, and allow for the extreme heat of the desert in the summer.
Nearby Points of Interest
Fort Bayard (home of the US Infantry "Buffalo Soldiers")
Kneeling Nun (monolith resembling a nun kneeling in prayer, prominent in both Apache and Mexican folklore)
Gila National Forest/Wilderness
Aldo Leopold Wilderness
Catwalk/Whitewater Recreation Area
Rich vegetation provides a near-perfect habitat for wildlife. Yuccas, barrel, hedgehog and other cacti, ocotillo, New Mexico agave, desert bird-of-paradise and desert willow are common. Emory and gray oak grow among the rocks. When the region experiences a wet winter or a spring or summer rainstorm, brilliant displays of multicolored wildflowers as far as the eye can see add an unforgettable dimension to the City of Rocks experience.
At least thirty five species of birds call this rock city their home. These include the universally popular Geococcyx Californianus, or roadrunner, along with cactus wrens and several types of finches. In the highest cracks and crevasses of the rocks are nesting raptors such as eagles, hawks and owls.
An abundance of four-footed creatures also claim the city and surrounding area as their abode. These include animals such as chipmunks, squirrels, cottontails, jackrabbits, mountain lions, coyotes, mule deer, Javelina, and even the occasional five- to six-foot tall, two hundred to three hundred and thirty-pound black bear.
Western diamond-back rattlesnakes, prairie rattlesnakes, mojave green rattlers, bull snakes and garter snakes thrive at the park. So do a wide variety of lizards. Once in a while, human visitors have the rare pleasure of spotting perhaps the shyest of Southwest lizards, the black and orange or yellow scaled Gila monster. Other familiar sightings include the desert tortoise, scorpions and tarantulas.
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