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However, the state has so much more to offer than most people realize or know. These five State Parks fly under the radar, often forgotten or unknown to the public. But these beautiful hidden gems are worth exploring.
Set against the dramatic Sacramento Mountains, this park features a historic ranch house, quiet camping in the Chihuahuan Desert, and the unique 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.
Picturesque Heron Lake is set among the tall pines of northern New Mexico. Access the hiking and fishing trail along the gorgeous Rio Chama from the dramatic caprock stairway near Heron Dam. The 5.5-mile trail, which crosses the river by suspension bridge, affords panoramic views and an adventurous route to neighboring El Vado Lake.
Just an hour north of Santa Fe, Villanueva State Park feels like it’s a million miles from anywhere. Nestled between high sandstone bluffs that form a canyon along the Pecos River, this hidden gem is the perfect location for a serene hike in the shade of cottonwood trees.
The Cimarron River flows through this narrow, forested canyon, located near Eagle Nest on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. The park offers beautiful views, interesting geology, quiet camping, fly fishing, hiking and equestrian trails. The wildlife viewing opportunities are amazing, as the park sits at the center of the Colin Neblett Wildlife Management Area.
The nature enthusiast will appreciate the abundance of wildlife, birds, butterflies, and wildflowers among the lakes, creeks, forests, and meadows. Nearly all outdoor recreation activities are possible: Fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, and camping. You’ll find one of the most diverse trail systems of any State Park at Sugarite. It boasts nearly 13 miles of trails and a historic coal camp.
Visit a New Mexico State Park this summer NM State Parks Interactive Trail Map
Looking for more Wild Land Adventure opportunities? Visit our Public Lands pages HERE!