These photos were taken on our first visit to Heron Lake State Park. We visited in May and the campgrounds were full of families enjoying the Park.
On this visit we decided to take a drive around the state park. Here are some photos of what we saw.
We are looking at the Osprey who nested on the pole a few miles away. This photo was taken at the visitor center at Heron State Park.
Did you know they offer an array of family projects, crafts, etc. for families and children on a weekly basis throughout the summer and they also do guided tours of the trails?!
If you visit after the 17th of September like we enjoy doing, then, we are on our own.
Our RV Camping Experience at Heron Lake State Park 2016
I contacted one of the Rangers the week of our camping trip this September. I had questions and I sure didn’t want to drive the 3.5 hours North from Albuquerque without asking my questions first (That is just part of my prepper instinct along with my type A personality).
After September 17th there is no campground hosts at the site or volunteers at the Visitors Center but the visitors center is open and you can speak with the Rangers if you have questions or concerns.
Since reserve america does not take reservations this late in the season, the campsites throughout the park are considered walk up and self pay sites. This means you have to drive in and find a site that is not occupied to stay in. For some, this is part of the fun, and for others such as myself, it was a little stressful.
This year we camped at Willow Creek which is the only Campground in the Park with hookups ($14) this includes water and electric. Keep in mind, this time of the year you still need to run your furnace (propane) on those cool nights. A few campsites also have sewer hookups ($18). You can also dry camp for less per day ($10 to $12) but the dry camping sites we saw were more for tents rather than larger Rigs in this campground.
Next to the deer in the photo below you will notice the Dump Station which is conveniently located just outside of the campsite loop.
If you decide to camp here outside of reservation dates please remember to stop by the Pay Station on your way into your campground and pick up a few self pay permits. This will help to save time when you find an empty spot. Pull into it 1) fill out the self pay permit with your license plate number 2) and site number 3) write your check to New Mexico State Parks or insert cash 4) and drive back to the self pay station (it is distant from the campsites) and place your envelope with your fee inside the self pay station. Remember, if you can’t park your Rig before returning with the envelope, place something on the site to let others know it is occupied. Don’t rely on the yellow self pay permit you leave on the post.
THERE IS NO CAMPGROUND HOST on duty during this time and camp sites become a first come first serve space. If you have an extra vehicle (we did because I towed the boat) you need to pay $10 per day. I filled out a separate self pay permit so I could place the white copy on my windshield.
Please NOTE that if you write a check or pay cash for a few days and decide that you want to leave a day early, there are NO REFUNDS, so it may be better to pay for a couple days at a time. As long as you pay before 11AM, you can continue to reserve your current spot.
On this trip, we were fortunate to have found site 3 which had full hookups and lots of room to park my 4Runner and the boat.
My dad was able to park in site 4 which also had full hookups and was conveniently located next to us on the same side of the street.
I was surprised to see the campground being as full as it was in late September. We did notice a few campers drive in late at night and drive out the next morning.
Otherwise, it was a quiet campground and I enjoyed the peacefulness and the thousands of stars I got to see each night. They did allow burning campfires as long as it was within the pit.
I always bring my propane fire pit to every camping excursion we have. I just love the ease of turning the knob to light and roasting the marshmallows easily and not worrying about setting anything on fire because I forgot to put the flames out (don’t want to be that person).
My family uses Verizon as our mobile carrier and we had uninterrupted service with the extended network and we had typical New Mexico weather; windy one day and night, rain a couple days and nights, clear and sunny the rest of the time. We could text, send photos and make calls in site 3 and 4. I was even taking calls at the Dam while my fishing pole was in the water.
HA! Verizon “Don’t get Verizon if you want peace and quiet while camping, you end up with service everywhere”.
I use my Iphone for photos because it is a lot more convenient than carrying a camera everywhere but by doing this I also receive calls.
We had to go into Chama New Mexico which was approximately 25 minutes away from the campground a couple of times and thank goodness for stores like Lowes/Ace Hardware who had fuses we needed for our Heartland Sundance and a connector for our laptop we forgot to take with us.
Lowes Grocery Store also sold fresh produce, bags of ice they make at the store, pet supplies, camping supplies, RV supplies, clothing, fishing supplies, traps, a propane exchange, my wine, my husband’s beer, we even saw washers, dryers and refrigerators.
This was a well stocked, clean store with friendly and helpful staff.
Cumbres and Toltec Railroad is a 25 minute drive from Heron State Park and the train leaves the station daily.
Although we did not get to ride the train this trip it was a beautiful site to see and there were private RV parks and cabins around the railroad. A few were within walking distance to the railroad.
For those of us that need to work while we are on “vacation” I found a Subway sandwich eatery on route 17 not far from the Railroad and approximately 25 minutes from Heron Lake State Park. Their hours are 7AM to 9PM. This eatery has a wifi hotspot so you can access internet services. Grab your laptop, buy a drink and a sandwich, they will supply the password, and enjoy!
On this trip we were fortunate to have seen Wild Turkey, Elk and Deer. I heard from a tourist that one of the RV parks told them to buy some corn nuts and feed the Deer. Supposedly the deer would just walk up to you and eat from your hand. I know there were deer walking around our campsite but I didn’t get to feed them this time around. This photo was taken on our way back from the Dam after fishing. This was also the road we saw the Turkey on. The Elk we saw in a herd on our way to Chama.
This was a wonderful week full of adventure with my family. We look forward to coming back again next year.
Sending great thoughts your way along with happiness and great health.