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Often overshadowed by the more well-known national parks and monuments, the New Mexico State Park system offers opportunities to get away from the crowds and enjoy a little more space. These five state parks fly under the radar, and these beautiful hidden gems are worth exploring.
For parks availability and closure information, please call the State Parks office at 877-667-2757.
Set against the dramatic Sacramento Mountains, this park features a historic ranch house, quiet camping in the Chihuahuan Desert, and an oasis of pools of water under the cottonwood trees of Dog Canyon. Enjoy a short walk on the Riparian Nature Trail or a challenging hike up the Dog Canyon trail. Stick around for a stunning tour of the night sky with the Amateur Astronomers Group.
This quiet lake is known for its kayaking and sailing opportunities, but it’s home to one of the best-kept secrets around. The 5.5-mile Rio Chama trail connects the park with nearby El Vado Lake State Park and crosses the river via an iconic suspension bridge, offering panoramic views in all directions.
Just an hour outside Santa Fe, Villanueva State Park feels like it is a million miles from anywhere. The 2.5-mile Viewpoint Loop Trail offers a birds-eye view of the park before heading deep in the canyon under the shade of cottonwood trees.
It’s a fisherman’s paradise — this high-alpine lake (it sits at more than 8,000 feet!) is regularly stocked with salmon and trout. Even if casting a line isn’t your thing, this state park boasts hiking, boating, and birding for recreation enthusiasts of all types.
The nature enthusiast will appreciate the abundance of wildlife, birds, butterflies, and wildflowers among the lakes, creeks, forests, and meadows. A whole world of outdoor recreation activities is possible: fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, and camping. You’ll also find one of the most diverse trail systems in the state — around lakes, into canyons, and up onto mesas — including a trek to a historic coal camp.