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  • Valley of Fires Recreation Area, NM

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    This is a "must visit" place if you're traveling in New Mexico. Valley of Fires is a BLM-operated campground just west of Carrizozo, NM. The campground is situated on a small ridge in the middle of a 44-mile long lava flow. We decided that it rates a place in our Top Five Campgrounds list. There is so much to see and the view changes constantly as the sun moves across the sky. Great sunrises and sunsets as well.


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    The ridge, called a kipuka, has a high spot in the middle of the campground area that gives a great overall view - this is looking north towards sites 1-14. Most of these sites have electric and water hookups. All that dark area is part of the lava flow that dates from 1500 to 5000 years ago.

    Date of Visit: Nov 2013

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    We checked out all the sites and decided that #11 offered the best view in all directions.

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    Sites 17 and 16.

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    Site 9 is a large back-in site.

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    Sites 7 and 6 are pull-throughs.

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    Sites 1-4; 2-4 have electric and water hookups.

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    There is a large, modern bathhouse with free hot showers.

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    Looking southward from the kipuka's high point one sees the tent area at the far end of the campground.

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    Sites 21 and 20 have very short parking areas. Although designated a tent area, we did note a couple of pop-up campers there.

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    Site 25 is a very interesting site - it's tent pad is nestled behind some trees up against the edge of the lava flow. Just off to the left of the canopy is a small grotto.

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    The tent area boasts a modern vault toilet.

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    In the middle of the campground is a set of horseshoe pits, complete with horseshoes. I gave up trying to throw a few - the pits are surrounded with cement, even in front, so the shoes go bouncing all over the place - I guess the only solution is to throw a ringer every time.

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    There is a 3/4 mile handicapped-accessible paved trail through a portion of the lava flow. Signs along the way explain some of the features one sees, such as pressure ridges, collapsed lava bubbles and tubes, fissures, pits and rock shelters, as well as flora and fauna.

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    This ropy-looking lava is called Pahoehoe.

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    On our morning walk one day we came across this female tarantula. Wow - I've never seen such a large spider before. Her leg span was about 5 inches!

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    Most days we were blessed with amazingly colorful sunrises...

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    ... and sunsets.


    25 sites: 13 with W/E - $18, 6 with no hookups - $12, 6 tent-only sites - $7

    50% off with Golden Age Pass

    Dump station


    Good VZW coverage

    Coordinates: 33.684739 North, 105.920101 West

    Elevation: 5250'