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An archeological and historical treasure, Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is in central New Mexico, a 30-minute drive south of Mountainair. The site consists of three main units: Gran Quivira, the Quarai Mission and Convento, and the Abo unit. These were established by Spanish explorers between the late 1500s and the early 1600s, but the construction of a newer church, San Buenaventura, around 1659 impacted the mission's importance.
Today, the remains of these treasures can still be seen and include a visitor center, where you can ask questions and view exhibits. Booking an RV rental near Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is the best way to experience this historic area.
Beyond the boundaries of the national monument, scenic desert landscapes await. Gallinas Peak is a quiet and relatively unknown mountain, two factors that make it worth checking out. The peak is surrounded by desert plains, making it easy to spot for travelers passing by on the highways; it has a road to the summit where you'll find a fire tower and several radio towers. The view from the peak is panoramic and unobstructed; climb up the fire tower, and the view goes from spectacular to out of this world. The base and sides of Gallinas Peak are heavily forested, and there aren't any trails for hiking, but that won't be a problem once you've taken in the view.
Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is another place to check out while camping in Mountainair. The refuge features a diverse collection of biological systems that support a variety of plant and animal life. Much of the sanctuary is an arid landscape, but the Rio Grande River flows through it. The river supplies water to support the ecosystems, which include a pinyon-juniper woodland, a desert, prairie grassland, and a shrub-steppe plateau. The preserve has nature trails where you can hike, take photos, or observe the scenery; park employees occasionally host lectures, guided hikes, and other events.
Head a two-hour drive south with the Mountainair camper rental and spend a day or two exploring Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. It was created in 1939 to provide sanctuary to the cranes, geese, and ducks that winter here and pass through when migrating. The refuge is settled between two mountain ranges and consists of woodlands, riverbanks, and dry desert. You can hike and mountain bike on the refuge trails, and there are guided tours that can inform you about the history and archaeology of the area and are worth checking out.
There aren't any RV campgrounds in the Salinas Pueblo Missions NM, but you do have several choices only a short distance from the monument. One of them, Turner Inn & RV Park, is a pet-friendly RV campground in Mountainair, with a field where your furry family member can burn off some energy. The campground has WiFi, a laundry room, and restroom facilities with showers. Each campsite has full hookups and you can choose between 30 amp and 50 amp electricity.
Kiva RV Park is a clean and quiet RV campground in Bosque, with a flat paved surface and numerous trees strategically placed to provide you with plenty of shade on a hot New Mexico afternoon. All of the campsites have full hookups with 30 or 50 amp electricity, and most have plenty of room for slide outs. The campground is located not far from a waterfowl complex where you can spend some time observing the resident bird species come and go.
Vaughn is a small town located at the junction of two railway lines, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific. It's a good place to stop and grab a bite to eat while taking in the authentic and un-compromised New Mexico culture. The town has a few different places to dine, including a diner, a family restaurant, and a pub restaurant. Most of the venues serve delicious food at very reasonable prices; you may even wind up taking leftovers home with you.
Carrizozo is a small town and the county seat of Lincoln County; it's been around for a little more than a century and is referred to by its citizens as “Zozo.” The town has an interesting number of attractions for its size, including several museums, shopping outlets, an art gallery specializing in photography, and an ice cream parlor. It has some dining establishments, too; you'll find Mexican and American-style food, a pizzeria, and a barbecue joint, just to name a few.