At 5,600 feet above sea level, the stunning Villanueva State Park is located 30 miles south of Las Vegas, on the shores of the Pecos River in New Mexico. Cottonwood trees, yellow and red sandstone cliffs, and other plants native to the region contribute to the surrounding beauty. The small village of Villaneuva is about 1.5 miles away and has a decently stocked store, with basics like vegetables, cleaning supplies, and ice. The park is open to RVers and tent campers, as well as day visitors. It has long been popular among the locals, who like to frequent it on the weekend, but the park is usually quieter during the week. The park was created with land given by San Miguel del Bado Land Grant Board of Trustees in 1967. It is about 1,600 acres and is one of the few state parks created by a land grant board of trustees.
Villanueva State Park is situated in a canyon with the Pecos River flows between the campsites, and visitors can have fun wading, swimming, fishing or tubing in it. Because of its location, photographers camping at the park will be able to take stunning sunrise and sunset pictures. Campers can also enjoy activities like horseback riding, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and hiking and backpacking. RVers looking for a quiet off the beaten track state park will love Villanueva State Park.
Villanueva State Park is located less than 100 miles northeast of Albequerque, approximately 56 miles southeast of Santa Fe, about 56 miles south of Las Vegas, and less than two miles east of Villanueva, New Mexico. RVers traveling from Las Vegas should take I-25 towards the park. You should then turn off onto NM-3, which will take you to the village of Villaneuva. The speed limit is 25-35 miles per hour for the majority of the way, and visitors can enjoy the windy ride and scenery along their leisurely drive. Once in Villaneuva, you can follow the signs pointing towards the park. Visitors will find suitable parking in the park near the footbridge and at the end of the road running through the park.
There are six sites you can reserve, and these are site numbers 6, 7, 8, 19, 21, and 22. Knowing which sites you can reserve is helpful if you want to organize a church outing or a family reunion or if you don't want to take a chance that there won't be any sites available when you arrive.
Villanueva State Park Campgrounds feature 33 campsites, and 12 of these come with electricity. These sites are suitable for RVers, trailers, and tent campers. Drinking water, hot water showers, flush and vault toilets are available for use. Each site is equipped with a fire ring, grate, and picnic table. Nearby is a playground for children to play on and a visitor station for campers to learn more about the park. A large group shelter is available to rent for big outings like work retreats or reunions. The camping area is divided into two sections, the upper campground, and the lower campground. On both the upper and lower campgrounds, most sites have shelters constructed to look like the buildings built by early settlers. The lower campground is where all the RV hookups are, but RVers can also camp in the upper campground. There is also a dump station available. Campers are surrounded by nature and wildlife in the park. Campers may be able to see foxes and other wildlife in the evenings, and there is cottonwood, prickly pear, and juniper trees scattered around the campsite. Sites located closest to the river will be able to hear the sound of the water during the night. Campers are allowed to bring along their well-behaved pets, and they must stay on a leash at all times.
Geocachers visiting Villanueva State Park will find several caches while exploring the park. The caches are primarily located on the hiking trails, and geocachers will be rewarded with the caches location and spectacular views. Geocaching at the park is open to campers and day visitors. If you are a day visitor, you will need to purchase a day pass, or alternatively, an annual pass. While you are geocaching out in nature, make sure to take along water and food, and to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.
Villanueva State Park has three trails that hikers can explore. These trails are scattered around the park and lead hikers to high viewpoints, Spanish ruins, and beautiful scenery. Once hikers have reached the viewpoint, they can soak in the stunning vistas. At one of the viewpoints, hikers will discover an observation deck and a few picnic shelters. The hikes may take several hours, depending on your fitness level, so make sure to bring ample water and snacks to eat while you are exploring the terrain. The trails are clearly defined, and hikers will not have difficulty navigating their way. You may even see some wildlife on your hikes like lizards and carrion birds, and these animals are most prominent during dusk or dawn.
Numerous picnic shelters are available for campers and day visitors to use. These picnicking areas are sprawled along the banks of the Pecos River and offer a shaded area for visitors to enjoy. You can go for a hike and end it off with a swim in the river before sitting down for a picnic in one of the shelters, or if you prefer a more rugged meal, you can lunch on a picnic mat in the sun overlooking the river. There are restrooms nearby, and visitors will find ample parking, so however you choose to have a picnic, you won't find it too much of a challenge.
The park offers wonderful fishing from the beginning of fall to the end of spring, so make sure you bring your fishing gear with you in your RV. During this time, fishers camping or visiting the park will find the Pecos River fully stocked with rainbow trout. During the summer season, anglers can try their hand at catching catfish. You don't need to worry about overcrowded fishing here at Villanueva State Park because the river winds through the park, and there is no lack of spots to choose from.
With its picturesque scenery surrounding the park, it's no wonder that Villanueva State Park is the ideal spot for photographers to take photos. You can take pictures all over the park, but the hiking trails and the views from the viewpoints are definitely a big favorite. If you are looking for the perfect spot for your sunrise and sunset photos, get to the upper campsites for the highest position. Whether its group photos, nature photos or sunrise and sunset photos you want, you'll find it here at Villanueva State Park.
The rivers in New Mexico rely upon melting snowpack to replenish them and raise their water level. In the spring, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains release their snowpack into several rivers, including the Pecos River, which usually carries the most water. Kayakers can enjoy exploring the river while paddling. Kayakers and canoers can enjoy a day-long, 19-mile route starting at Villanueva State Park and ending at Tecolotito. This paddling adventure is only available for a short season, which lasts from May to June. This route takes kayakers and canoers through turbulent white waters in a sheer-walled canyon. There is a diversion dam along the route, which you will need to complete a portage around.