Add camping at City of Rocks State Park NM to your to-do list. This is the type of place that blows my mind. A seemingly random, relatively small space that stands out in stark contrast to the surrounding landscape. Small but mighty.

Two pit bulls in blue fleece sweaters looking out a field of large stone pillars while camping at City of Rocks State Park NM

Visiting City of Rocks State Park

You’ll roll into the area on some quiet highways and paved roads, passing Faywood Hot Springs, a small resort with – yes, you guessed it – hot springs.

City of Rocks doesn’t even appear until you’re practically right at the front entrance of this massive cluster of giant boulders melting into each other. This monolithic structure is volcanic rock. Wind and water etched the formation over time, leaving smooth, rounded surfaces.

Two dogs in front of a red wooden sign stating "Welcome To City of Rocks State Park" that is held up by two stone pillars; this is what you'll see when you arrive to go camping at City of Rocks State Park NM

As always, I recommend making the visitor center your first stop. The rangers on duty can give you up-to-the-minute details along with the usual maps and souvenirs. I let them know I had two dogs and asked if I should be aware of anything besides keeping them on leash throughout the campground.

They told me they had spotted a mountain lion nearby the day prior, and that elk and bear were in the area, so I should keep a close eye on my pets. ​Of course, when they met Cool Whip and Herc later, they realized we didn’t have quite as much to worry about than if they’d been small, snack-sized dogs.

Two pit bulls in blue fleece sweaters looking out from a cave while camping at City of Rocks State Park NM

Camping at City of Rocks State Park NM

You can’t pick a bad spot in this park, but our friendly ranger did offer a couple of recommendations to help us stay out of the wind that day. Just one of the many reasons to make time to talk with the local rangers. It’s their job to know these parks, so they can provide information on things you didn’t even think to consider.

​Campsites are $10.00 per night. You can make reservations for some campsites, but others are first-come-first-served only. I wasn’t visiting during peak season, and I didn’t need electrical hook-ups, so I relied on the FCFS options.

Each site has a picnic table and campfire ring. There are garbage cans tucked throughout the campground and several pit toilets. The visitor center also has flush toilets and showers if you want to feel fancy.

A campsite with one deciduous tree, a campfire ring, and a red wooden sign state #5 and the word Aquila with a rock landscape in the background, a great campsite if you're camping at City of Rocks State Park NM

Cell Reception at City of Rocks

I didn’t have cell reception throughout most of City of Rocks State Park.

So, then what do you do when it starts pouring rain right after you pull into your campsite? ​Like your-tent-isn’t-even-set-up-just-pulled-in.

You turn your vehicle into your tent. Redistribute a few gear bags, blow up some sleeping pads, and spread out sleeping bags. Kick back and relax.

I listened to my downloaded podcasts. And, ironically, this is when I came across How to Unplug with Danny Kim, episode 100 from Wild Ideas Worth Living. It covered exactly what had been running through my brain: Do we need to unplug, and, if so, how can we?

Honestly, to answer that, I’d just be repeating what I heard on that podcast, so give it a listen for yourself. Trust me; it’s worth listening to.

Because once the sun did come back out and I inadvertently found cell service while hiking, I resisted the urge to jump on social media. I heard a few notification dings, then turned my phone on silent. And challenged myself only to use my phone for pictures until I left City of Rocks the next day. It was refreshing!

Two dogs, a brown pit bull in a blue sweater on the left and a white pit bull in a unicorn sweater on the right, facing the camera while standing up on a rock ledge
A brown pit bull dog peering out through a crack between two large rocks

Is City of Rocks State Park Dog Friendly?

Yes, City of Rocks State Park is very dog friendly! Once the rain cleared, we scurried all over the park. The whole place is dog-friendly aside from inside the buildings. There are trails to hike, but we mostly stuck to scrambling around on the boulders because there seemed to be endless nooks and crannies to explore.

Whether this is a destination or a pitstop on a more extensive adventure, I highly recommend it. After backcountry camping at White Sands National Park, we spent the night here. And I’ll definitely stop again if we’re cruising through southern New Mexico.

A brown pit bull dog in a sweater looking out over a rocky landscape with sunrays shining out just above his shoulder

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