RV Rental Villanueva State Park, NM

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Villanueva State Park is one of the most remote parks in New Mexico, yet it still manages to see countless visitors every year. The 1,700-acre park is in northeast New Mexico, 70 miles east of Albuquerque, and just 40 miles south of Santa Fe. The proximity to these cities contributes to its popularity, attracting campers looking to get away from the fast pace of modern life. This serene campground sits along the Pecos River, sandwiched between sandstone bluffs rich in history. If you rent an RV in San Miguel County to explore Villanueva State Park, keep in mind that the road to the park is narrow and winding, making it a challenge for larger RV rentals.

Villanueva State Park is named for the small settlement just outside of the park, which has Spanish colonial history dating back to the 16th century. Settlers developed land grants from the Spanish government to protect strategic interests in the area. Villanueva was known as La Cuesta this whole time up until 1890 when the actual town of Villanueva was established. Today, it’s not much more than a ghost town. Land acquisition for the park began in 1967 and was completed in 1992, using partitions of the original Spanish land grant.

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Getting Outdoors

Many Villanueva State Park campers come here for the fishing. Anglers can cast their lines in the Pecos River in search of brown trout, rainbow trout, and Rio Grande Cutthroat trout. Large cottonwoods provide ample shade, making for a relaxing day of fishing. Anglers age 12 and older will need a New Mexico fishing license. The Pecos River also offers other opportunities for water recreation, such as kayaking and rafting, when the river is high enough in the spring.

Villanueva State Park has just a few hiking trails, but the trails that it does host make for beautiful outings. The easiest trail is the El Cerro Trail, which is just over a mile in length and takes you to two great viewpoints overlooking the Pecos River and surrounding valleys. A more difficult two-mile Viewpoint Loop Trail starts across the bridge and climbs to the top of the canyon. The trail will take you to more spectacular views and an interpretive display of small ruins dating to approximately the 12th century.

Photographers with an interest in birding and wildflowers will appreciate the many photographic subjects at Villanueva State Park. Springtime is exceptionally beautiful with the colorful palette of flowers covering the ground, but you’ll find bright colors year-round. Yellow warblers, sandpipers, and several species of sparrows are among the many different types of birds that call this park home. If you’re lucky, you may spot the elusive bobcats, mountain lions, and black bears.

Camping at Villanueva State Park

The campground at Villanueva State Park is subject to seasonal closures, so be sure to check its status before you go. The campground has a total of 33 RV sites that can accommodate motorhome rentals up to 50 feet in length. Twelve of these sites have 30-amp electric hookups, and there's a dump station in the campground. The campsites are a mix of pull-through and back-in sites, and one site is ADA-compliant. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring with a grill, and you’ll have plenty of shade under the large cottonwoods throughout the campground.

The bathrooms at the Villanueva State Park campground are modern with flushing toilets and showers, and there are numerous water stations throughout the campground. There’s a playground for the kids, and your pets are also allowed if they’re kept on a leash. The campsites at Villanueva State Park are a mix of first-come, first-served and reservable sites, and early birds will be able to claim several sites along the river.

Exploring the Area

If you’re camping at Villanueva State Park, be sure to check out their modern visitors' center containing numerous interesting exhibits about the cultural and natural history of the area. There’s not much to see in the actual settlement of Villanueva, but the old Nuestra Senora de Guadeloupe Church is a photogenic landmark not to miss.

The nearest gas stations and shopping opportunities are going to be 35 miles north along Interstate 25 in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Each region in the southwest is known for its unique take on Mexican food, and Las Vegas is a great place to sample the local fare. If you continue north on Interstate 25, you’ll eventually end up in Colorado. If you take the interstate east, you’ll find yourself in Santa Fe after just an hour. Santa Fe is home to outstanding art galleries and markets, perfect for those with a shopping bug.

However, before reaching Santa Fe, don’t miss the ancient pueblos of Pecos National Historic Park. There’s no RV camping within this park, but there are opportunities to camp in a motorhome both along the interstate and in the adjoining national forest.

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