City of Rocks State Park - Atlas Obscura

City of Rocks State Park

Faywood, New Mexico

These unique volcanic rock formations offer the perfect opportunity to camp and hike. 


Out in the middle of the dry grasslands of southwestern New Mexico lies a collection of highly unusual rocks. The variety of shapes seems to suggest these might be the remains of a giant artist’s experiments with abstract sculpture. Of course, the artist was the most successful sculptor of all time, erosion. The base material for the formations is tuff, a volcanic rock formed almost 35 million years ago. Tuff is rather soft as far as stone goes, so the bedrock foundation was easily molded into the interesting shapes seen today.

The State Park, established in 1953, includes campgrounds and RV hookups in between the rock formations, some of which are over 40 feet tall. There are also several hiking trails, a botanical garden, and great scenery all around. Local wildlife including jackrabbits, javelinas, golden eagles, and pronghorns can often be seen away from the central camping area.

The park also features a visitor center, which is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. It provides information not only on the geological history of the area, but on the fossils and archaeological artifacts found in the area. You can even hold some of these items for yourself. This place truly is a hidden gem of the desert.

Know Before You Go

Campsites range between $8 to $18 per night and can be reserved online. Day hikers must pay a $5 fee, payable at self-serve kiosks at two locations along the entrance road into the park.

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