Now a ghost town, Elizabethtown (4.8 miles north of Eagle’s Nest on NM 38) the first incorporated city in New Mexico and founded by Commander of Fort Union William H Moore, was named after his young daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Moore. At its height of prosperity, in 1870, it had just over 7,000 residents. The most famous being the serial killer Charles Kennedy who was responsible for 14 known murders including his own son, and the famed vigilante Clay Allison.
Today, all that stands are a few old buildings and a cemetery with many graves including children under the age of 3 years old. The overgrown grass makes it difficult to see some of the graves and some without names entirely.
Serial killer Charles Kennedy, who was responsible for 14 known murders including his own son, and the famed vigilante Clay Allison.
Storrie Lake State Park, NM, US, (elevation 6,600 ft) located 4 miles north of Las Vegas, New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is an 81 acre park with the lake itself having a surface area of approximately 1,100 acres. Open year round.
This peaceful lake offers vast opportunities for fishing, bird watching, windsurfing, cross country, and boating.
Park activities include hiking and camping with a variety of campsites – A large lake shore area for primitive camping (grassy and has few trees) practically allows anglers to fish from the comfort of their campsites. There are also developed RV sites several feet from the lake and some back away from the lake – depending on your preference. These developed sites have cabana type shelters and are shaded by large cottonwoods.
There is also a group shelter (close to restrooms and boating dock) Having children (one being autistic) I look for certain things at parks –
There are restrooms and a large playground. The playground is not close to the water.
As always, New Mexico State Parks camp spots can be reserved here – many parks also offer first come first serve camping.
Clayton Lake State Park, NM, US, (elevation 5,186 ft) located at 139 Clayton Lake Rd. Clayton, NM 88415, is a 170-acre recreational reservoir; 15 miles north of Clayton, close to New Mexico’s border with Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas. The landscape of rolling grasslands, volcanic rock, and sandstone bluffs, is set in the western edge of the Great Plains.
Along with a group shelter, picnicking, camping, hiking, and fishing at the lake, you can also experience one of the most extensive dinosaur trackways in North America.
An earth dam was constructed in the 1970s across Seneca Creek that resulted in the formation of Clayton Lake. The excavation of the spillway, and a flood in 1982 that swept away a layer of silt from the spillway, uncovered an unexpected bonanza of dinosaur tracks, preserved in the Early Cretaceous sandstones of the upper Dakota Group, dated at about 100 million years old.
Today, the tracksite, with over five hundred dinosaur footprints preserved, is one of the main attractions at Clayton Lake State Park — and one of the best-preserved and most extensive dinosaur tracksites in the United States. (1)
The dinosaur tracks are embedded in rock near the lake. They can be observed on the dam spillway at the end of a gentle 0.25-mile (0.40 km) trail. The best times to view the tracks are in the morning and the late afternoon.
A sheltered gazebo and a boardwalk trail provide extensive information regarding the dinosaurs.
As a mother of a future paleontologist, this is where you go to watch your pre-teen’s eyes light up! Walking around the boardwalk, there are many footprints along with signs to educate.
My youngest daughter, having autism, we always take that into consideration whenever/wherever we visit. The path to the footprints is easy and fairly flat, the stairs down to the boardwalk area are not steep and spaced nicely. There is also a restroom at the beginning of the trail, which is always a plus before any walk (or activity with children). The only negative, which can be resolved with close watch, is the rocky, steep lakeside.
Overall, we love this park and plan to go back in the spring to camp, fish, and hike.
If you are lucky, you get to see these beauties on your way out – – –
Now living in NM for over 10 years and traveling most of the state, I can say that Jemez is still one of my favorite places. The Jemez Mountain Trail is not something that should be passed up. Google Map here
From start to finish, it’s a 16 1/2 mile section of stunning Jemez, NM. If coming from the south, you will drive through a Native Pueblo (be sure to obey speed signs, they are strict because of children, dogs, etc), then a red rock cliff that is worthy of a quick stop for photos.
First stop is Jemez State Monument –
(This monument has exhibitions and self-guided tours. Ranger-guided tours are also given upon request.)
“The pueblo was first built in the AD 1500s by ancestors of the modern residents of Jemez Pueblo. The Jemez people lived a typical Southwestern lifestyle for that time. They raised corn, beans and squash in Jemez Canyon along the Jemez River and also up on the nearby mesas. They hunted deer, rabbits, elk, and other game from the forests. They had plenty of water from the Jemez River, and hot springs nearby. In the best of times they may have had a somewhat idyllic life, but the climate could be fickle.
Jemez State Monument consists of the ruins of an ancient pueblo of the Jemez people known as Giusewa and the ruins of a 17th Century Spanish mission known as San Jose de los Jemez. The mission had a unique octagonal-shaped bell tower.” (JSM)
Second stop is Soda Dam – –
A unique waterfall that is part of a natural dam, made from calcium deposits. It dates back roughly 5000 years. The water flow continues to erode the dome and the shape has changed since my first visiting the area in 2008. You can walk across the top, climb into the small cave, or sit in the river enjoying to roaring waterfall sound. There have been times where it freezes in the winter. There is a mild sulfur odor but not at all hindering the experience.
Next stop is Battleship Rock – –
Battleship Rock is a 200 ft. tall natural land form of volcanic rock, resembling a Navy warship. The East Fork Jemez and San Antonio Rivers join at the picnic area and offer a cool streamside environment for family picnics, fishing and hiking. There are 33 day use picnic sites with grills, with restrooms and drinking water available. This picnic facility is designated as a reduced impact and recycle picnic area, visitors are encouraged to recycle and pack out trash. Cutting live vegetation is prohibited. Charcoal only in pedestal cooking grills.
Last stop is Jemez Falls – –
Located at an altitude of 7,880 ft above sea level, the river drops 70 feet through a spectacular series of falls. There is a picnic area, hiking, fishing, and camping, info here. The falls are accessible from the trail that starts at the Jemez Falls campground and day use area. There is an overlook at the end of the trail.
I highly recommend, after Jemez Falls, to continue heading East (7 1/2 miles) to drive through the Valles Caldera National Preserve – yes, a caldera (more info here). There is a visitor area and loads of photo opportunities – sometimes there are elk close by!
“There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and the wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of the great human principle.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Vision connects you. But it also separates you. In my work, and my life, I feel a desire to merge. Not in terms of losing my own identity… but there’s a feeling that life is interconnected, that there’s life in stones and rocks and trees and dirt, like there is in us.” ~ Bill Viola