Set against the beautiful Sacramento Mountains, Oliver Lee Memorial State Park features desert camping at its finest. You’ll have access to miles of scenic hiking trails that lead through the park’s canyons, pools, and cottonwood trees. You can also hike up Dog Canyon Trail to get a panoramic view of the mountains and cottonwood forests.
The park has interpretive nature trails that educate you on the park’s wildlife. Learn more about the birds, mammals, and plants of the southwest as you soak in the beautiful views of the mountains. There is also a desert garden featuring some of the local cactus species, as well as a range of desert wildflowers. A restored ranch house gives you a glimpse into life in the area over a century ago.
The campground found within the park has a range of different campsites, depending on how many amenities you need. You’ll find sites with electrical and water hookups, as well as sites that allow you to camp without any modern distractions. So if you are going on an RV road trip through New Mexico, Oliver Lee Memorial State Park is a perfect place to stop.
RV Rentals in Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
Transportation in Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
Oliver Lee Memorial State Park is located in southern New Mexico, and is within driving distance of multiple cities in the region. The park itself doesn’t have many roads, so you won’t have to drive far once you enter the park to get to your campsite.
Coming from Albuquerque, take I-25 south to US-54 and you will get to the park in around three and a half hours. From El Paso, take US-54 east from the city and you will arrive at the park in a little over an hour.
There are few tight turns or narrow roads to worry about at the park, so larger campervans shouldn’t have any problems getting to their campsite. The weather stays fairly warm year round, so you shouldn’t have to worry about ice on the roads.
Campgrounds and parking in Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
Campsites in Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
Alamogordo / White Sands KOA
Whether you are interested in a visit to the New Mexico Museum of Space History, the Toy Train Depot and Museum, or the Alameda Park Zoo, Alamogordo/White Sands KOA is centrally located to all of these attractions, and more. Outdoor activities are also popular in the region including hiking and “sand sledding” in the gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument, just 15 miles from the campground. History enthusiasts can take in ancient rock drawings at the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, found 30 miles north of the campground. The campground features tent sites, cabins, and RV sites that allow for a max pull-through of 80 feet, while other RV sites can accommodate up to a 100-foot rig, all with 50-amp hookups. Other amenities on-site include a pool for cooling off, horseshoes to toss, as well as cable and Wi-Fi. Propane and firewood are available for purchase on-site and there are also coin-operated laundry facilities.
Oliver Lee Memorial State Park Campground
The park offers eight sites for online reservation with water and electric hookups. All of the sites have fire pits and picnic tables, and are dog friendly, provided you keep them on a leash.
The campground is close to the Dog Canyon Eyebrow hiking trail, so you can easily connect to the network of hiking trails. There is drinking water that can also be accessed from all of the campsites.
The campground is open year round, and you can book a site up to six months in advance, and will need to reserve your spot at least a day before you arrive.
In addition to the sites that can be reserved online, Oliver Lee Memorial State Park offers over 30 first-come, first-served sites. Some of these sites are primitive, while others have water and electric connections. All of the sites have fire pits and picnic tables, and are dog friendly, provided you keep them on a leash. You should call the day you plan to arrive to see if there are any open sites, especially if you plan to visit during peak season in spring and summer.
Seasonal activities in Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
Exploring Desert Gardens
In addition to the wildlife you’ll find on the trails, you can also visit the park’s desert garden for a look at native plant species. You’ll see a variety of cactus species, as well as local wildflowers.
The garden is open year round, although it’s most beautiful in spring, when you can see all of the local desert flowers in bloom. The desert garden is also a quick walk from the park’s campgrounds, making it a great choice for a relaxing afternoon.
Strolling Nature Trails
If you want a more structured trek through the park, you can take a walk along the park’s nature trails. You’ll learn about the wildlife that is native to the park, all while getting stunning views of the mountains and canyons.
The nature trail is open year round, although it tends to be best in spring and fall, when the temperatures are mild and the park’s wildlife most active.
Hikers come to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park from all across the state to enjoy the beautiful canyon views and scenic hikes. There are miles of trails for you to explore, all of them leading through the cottonwood trees, pools, and canyons of the park.
There’s a range of difficulty levels available, so you should be able to find a hike that matches your abilities. If your up for more of a challenge, consider taking on the Dog Canyon Trail for some of the best views of the park. Just make sure you bring plenty of water during the summer, as temperatures can become extreme when you are out in the open during the day.
Seeing Historical Exhibits
In addition to the ranch house, you’ll also find a range of historical exhibits that highlight features of life in the old American southwest. The park office doubles as a museum, where you can learn more about local history and the wildlife native to the park.
The museum is open year round, although hours may change depending on the season. Check with the office when you visit to see what the current hours are.
Visiting the Ranch House
Oliver Lee Memorial State Park also has sites that are of historical interest. You’ll find a fully preserved ranch house, where you can learn more about life in the southwest. The house has period furnishings dated from 1890 to 1930, as well as a exhibits on the history from that period.
The ranch house is open year round, but can only be visited with a guided tour. Check with the park office when you arrive to see what the schedule is for the tours.
The cottonwoods surrounding the canyons of Oliver Lee Memorial State Park are home to dozens of bird species, making the park a great destination for birdwatchers. The views from the mountains also give you a bird’s eye view of all of the species that live in the park.
New Mexico has one of the best communities of birdwatchers that you’ll find in the region. Consult some of the websites of these groups and you may be able to find field guides, as well as bird checklists.