We closed up and left City of Rocks SP with Oliver Lee SP near Alamogordo as our destination. Our route took us up 61 to the Gila National Forest and over 152 to Interstate 25. The interstate took us to Las Cruces, where we did some grocery shopping, and then we took 70 to Alamogordo.
The most amazing part of the drive was the beginning up into the Gila Forest and up over the mountains at Emory Pass. We first paralleled the Rio Mimbres with lots of cottonwoods just turning green and orchards in flower. On 152 we climbed away from the water into pine covered mountains with amazing granite cliffs. We stopped at a couple of the National Forest Campgrounds but found they were closed until April because of funding. At Emory pass we were able to look out for close to 50 miles over the surrounding area. Needless to say the road upto and after Emory Pass was steep, winding, and full of hair pin turns. We passed through the little towns of Hillsboro and Kingston. As we approached I-25 we entered the flat desert which was covered with poppies. Additionally, we approached the Rio Grande Valley so we saw a great deal of agriculture — amazing what a little water will do. In this area a large number of pecans and pistachios are grown, and the town of Hatch is known for its peppers. In Alamogordo people’s gardens are in bloom — daffodils, red bud, pear — makes me wonder what I am missing at home.
We reached Oliver Lee around 4:30 and were able to find a campsite. Not many were available — it’s spring break — but one is all we needed. Our review: The views of the desert and mountains from the sites are stunning. All sites are surrounded with natuarl desert vegetation — creosote, cacti, sotelo, and lots of low growing wildflowers. Only some sites have electric, but all have picnic tables and fire rings. There is water in hydrants around the loops and a RV dump at the entrance to the park. Only 7 of the 40-some sites are reservable which means if you arrive early in the day on a weekday, you will probably find a site. We had good AT&T data and good TV reception from El Paso (not the Alamogordo TV stations since we had line-of-sight to El Paso not Alamorgordo towers).