There are very few developed sites for RV campers, but there are plenty of primitive sites. The restrooms and showers are dated, but the do everything that you need. The dinosaur tracks are a true bonus and the information that they have posted with the tracks are very informative. The park ranger and camp host are great and most of all, you can’t beat the New Mexico State park prices.
Clayton Lake State Park, Clayton, NM…5200 ft elev.
Beautiful oasis nestled away in the windswept high plains of NE New Mexico. Not only for today's travelers but for yesterday's pioneers we take the Cimmaron Cutoff from the Santa Fe trail. We pitched tent at Chicano Beach site #2 (there are only two on that ridge), far away from any crowds upon a knoll overlooking a western "dog-leg" of the 170 acre reservoir. Even though the man-made Clayton lake was down from 32' to 19' depth…it was tranquil and bustling with wildlife. Coyotes barked in the distance, strutting turkey's gobbled, jackrabbit's darted, fish jumped and mule deer grazed the shoreline grasses and taking in late night and early morning drinks. Bring your binoculars to glass the shore and ridge lines. Fascinating park, the sandstone formations were varied and interesting…worn away by generations of rain. The rock garden is worth a scramble…very cool columns…(R4 campsite is nestled deep within them and the most highly coveted tent site). Highlight: The dinosaur tracks (uncovered at the spillway around 1982 after a flood) at the spillway are of particular interest. Informational signage lines the spillway and the small pavilion atop the levy. The 471 acre state park was quiet and peaceful. Mark, the park ranger, is full of great information of the area…and incredibly helpful, having spent his entire life in these parts…truly as nice a man you could meet (and the first ranger to ever return my phone message when calling for last minute availabilty). The visitor center and every other aspect of this park is spotlessly clean and meticulously maintained. The visitor center, though small, utilized every inch to bring you desired information of the park's history. New signage and informational displays were going in as we left. A heated restroom/ shower house was a wonderful creature comfort. Plenty of very new and clean pit latrines and water spigots dotted throughout the campground. If you don't want crowds avoid the fishing tournament the second weekend of June when about 900 campers descend to camp and fish…and most summer holidays. Other than that there is room….and no bad spots. I'd recommend using the online reservation portal. Tent sites are cheap($10 developed/$8 primitive)…actual too cheap, in my opinion…the state parks are nearly bankrupt, if not already so. Skeleton staffs are underpaid, yet they worked tirelessly to keep the parks to the highest standard. http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/claytonlakestatepark.html
•A nearby highlight is the Capulin Volcano National Monument an hour away up Rt 87. The walk around the rim of the dormant volcano offers epic views of the surrounding high plains, Sante Fe trail and the jagged snow capped mountains to the West.
We were passing through on our way to Colorado from NC and found this place. It was a beautiful drive to get there. The showers were clean and the campsites were also. I think most sites have concrete slabs with a roof to pitch your tent. Heard coyotes at night, saw deer and rabbits. The lake was hopping with fish, and looked clean. Signs said there was an algae bloom so jumping in the lake was not advised.
We were driving through to Oklahoma City from Carson National Forest and decided to pitstop here along the way. This was a really wonderful park with very nice amenities. The bathrooms and showers were clean, the ranger was kind and accommodating, and the campsites were well manicured. The lake was beautiful and clear. I would absolutely recommend this park, and look forward to returning.