My boyfriend and I took a 13 state journey this summer over the course of 3 weeks and this was one of my favorite campsites we stayed at. The site itself was quaint and very nice to tent camp in. The tent sites had raised platforms to put your tent on and the ground underneath was softer, so it wasn’t that uncomfortable to sleep on👍🏻10/10 would go back🏕 they had bear boxes to keep all your food and odorants in over night. They have wood for sale for fires, there’s showers up the road and bathrooms within walking distance of every site. The camp hosts were very kind and helpful.
Sugarite Canyon is a Sweet Park to visit!
Located in NW Raton, New Mexico… Sugarite Canyon State Park ( http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/spd/sugaritecanyonstatepark.html ) borders the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains.
During this two month camping and hiking roadtrip, I chose campgrounds purely based on our traveling trajectory…which landed us in Raton, New Mexico at Sugarite Canyon State Park.
The Sugarite Canyon State Park (pronounced "Sugareet") was easy to locate off I-25 in Raton, (72 to 526 six miles NE straight into the park) just a few miles south of the Colorado border. The only campground area open during our mid April visit was the Lake Alice Campground, roughly 6,664 ft. elevation.
The Lake Alice Campground was perched along 526 inside the state park. Being early spring at elevation, the bare trees and bushes were barely budding, so the other three tent sites were fairly visible (four total tent sites), but nicely spaced out. Water (which, at that time, needed to be filtered or boiled by posted warning) and vault toilets were a 40 yard walk from the tent sites. The shower house was located a short drive down 526 across from the Ranger headquarters…and it had electric, modern plumbing and hot showers (however, check with hours of operation).
Gravel tent pads were raised the height of a 8-10" timber box…and roughly 7'x10' in dimension. Each tent site had a picnic table (which could be moved), a stationary and elevated metal food container, and a fire pit/grill on a cement pad. Because of the tight spaces, I felt the fire pit was located too close to the tent pad for my liking…though the wind blew favorably during our visit, keeping embers off the rainfly.
Lake Alice is a small 3 acre reservoir along the Chicorica Creek that spills from the larger Lake Maloya (120 acres). Fishing and hiking (13 miles within the park) are extremely popular in this state park, drawing daily crowds as well as an annual fishing contest. I was advised around 100,000 visit during each summer. Neighboring Colorado State Wildlife Areas, Lake Dorothey SWA (10 acre lake) and James M. John SWA are a stones throw down the gravel road, offering extended hiking and fishing.
Hiking trails from the Ranger Headquarters offer a history lesson with the remnants of the 1920's coal mining town that prospered in this canyon. Purpose to spend some time in the Ranger headquarters perusing the small dioramas depicting life in Sugarite Canyon during the turn of the 1900's. Rangers Scott and Bob were knowledgeable, helpful and knew the history thoroughly. Artifacts and photos in the Ranger Headquarters offer a tremendous pictorial history of the people and events of that era. A few original stone buildings remain intact and usable…the Post Office, which now houses the Ranger Headquarters and the Mule Barn, now the maintenance facility. Self-guided placqards line a walkway surrounding the Ranger Headquarters.
Trails vary from worn singletrack to wide service roads. Be aware of your surroundings for the wildlife that inhabits this area. Gobblers cackled on and off 24 hours, and the beautiful Towhee mountain bluebird flitted around our campsite providing a photo op.
The rushing Chicorica Creek, across the roadway, offered soothing whitenoise to the Alice Campground. There is also tent overflow on the creekside, across from Alice Campground, but no real definable sites…pretty much pitch 'em where you can.
A fire ripped through this area in 2011 with the effects still visible but plenty of lush vegetation growing up.
A hike around Lake Maloya is possible, offering great views of both the alluring waters and towering mountains. The higher elevation Soda Pocket Campground was closed during our visit. The Ponderosa Ridge/Opportunity Trail begins at the Lake Maloya spillway and offers great views (6 mile). The Little Horse Mesa Trail is a two mile roundtrip but climbs to the highest point in the park, flat and giving long mountain views. Snow was still heavy on the peaks. Elevation ranges from near 7,000 ft above 9,000 ft. with a variation of flat-top mesas to sharp peaks and lava flows.
Sugarite Canyon State Park offers numerous activities throughout the year to draw the avid outdoorsperson. Cross country skiing, rock climbing, hunting, fishing, boating (human and electric power only), hiking and picnicing.
We made the short trek over the Colorado border to Lake Dorothey and walked those trails. I read there is an annual butterfly festival there in the adjacent meadow, and one year yielded a one day count of 637 buterflies of 38 species.
Tent camping is $10 a night, in addition to a $5 park vehicle fee. Note: I would give five stars to the Sugarite Canyon State Park overall…but I dinged them one star in this review because of the Lake Alice Campground proximity to the roadway and limited amount of dedicated tent sites. Though, it won't dissaude me from coming back.
**Nearby National Park System Capulin Volcano is a must visit. Like a lone sentinal it towers alone in the high plains. We were fortunate enough to get a visit on one of the sixteen free days each year. Driving the switchbacks and circling the mountain to the parking lot just short of the peak was breathtaking. Without guardrails it is not for the faint of heart. A paved one mile walkway circles the rim of the volcano mouth…and another trail travels down into the mouth. There are pit latrines at the south end of the upper parking lot.
Gear Review: Leatherman WAVE Multi-tool
As a Dyrt Ranger gear tester, I was offered an opportunity to test the latest version of the Leatherman WAVE Multi-tool ( http://www.leatherman.com/wave-10.html ). I have used an original Leatherman folding multi-tool on my dutyrig since 1991. Before getting in too deep on the WAVE review…the Original mult-tool has undergone rigorous daily use for nearly three decades and it still looks and functions like new…so I was anxious to try the latest version of the WAVE and see if that level of quality still remains. Much has changed since the Original version…which is to be expected…and there are improvements from my son's well used military issue Leatherman WAVE.
Having the option, I chose the matte black over the brushed stainless finish…for subdued tactical reasons and anticipated crossover usage. I have attached a photo of all three of the Leatherman tools mentioned above for a visual comparison.
I had ample opportunity to use the function of each of the tools represented during my testing.
- Razor sharp knife blades
- Positive/Secure Liner-lock function
- Tight tolerances
- Reversable/Interchangeable driver bits
- Durable finish
- Great Customer Service and Warranty
- Brushed Stainless easier to clean than Matte Black finish
- Interchangeable driver bits (more to store/lose, etc)
The flat blade, while not a filet knife specifically, worked effectively on Rainbows and Browns. The saw blade made short work of saplings for gigs, tarp poles, and roasting sticks (disclaimer: no live trees were harmed in the testing of this tool). The scissors made intricate work easier and safer when my waistband button jettisoned off my Mountain Khakis (I guess too many trout, beans and s'mores)…for hasty handsewing with braided fishing line without removing said trousers.
I liked the reversable function of the removable driver bits, allowing the selection of the right size tool for the job. Enjoying the reversable function of the driver bits also brings with it a disdain for adding or keeping track of additional driver bits…not a fan of that. I also welcomed the web case and snapping that will permit attachment to any backpack, belt or Molle gear. My old leather case, though still fully usable…is extremely limited to a belt, unless jury-rigged.
As a sidenote: I have owned and used other brand multi-tools. Big box mult-tools have regularly failed and in my opinion not worth removing the wrapper. Popular named mult-tools have similar features, but use a "polymer" slide locking mechanism that I have had break or pop off, resulting in blades and tools that move and have no dependable rigidity (ie. sharp knife blade closing on gripping fingers…not good).
Overall, I believe the Leatherman WAVE mult-tool is a fantastic addition to both my tactical and outdoor adventures…and trust it will fulfill my expectations of longevity and durability as the Original.