We gave up our rather wonderful site today and moved on to Alamogordo, New Mexico. We decided to take Hwy 82 out of Artesia rather than drive down to El Paso, TX and back up on Hwy 54 to reach Oliver Lee State Park. The last time we were through this area we stayed in Tularosa at the Tularosa Vineyard compliments of Harvest Hosts. Now we are staying at the state park thanks to our annual state park pass.
The decision we made to go through Cloudcroft was one we debated about because Cloudcroft is located 8000 feet high in the Sacramento Mountains. We didn’t know if we could pull the mountain and if there would be snow on the road. Our friends, the King’s, took this route out of New Mexico and said we wouldn’t have a problem. So we turned right at the stop sign out of Brantley Lake State Park.
The drive was actually beautiful. The road was curvy but in good condition. The climb was gradual and once we came into the mountains and trees we felt like we had come home. The area reminded us so much of the drive out of Hells Canyon to Halfway, OR.
We went through towns like Hope, Elk, Mayhill and High Rolls. We went from 3,380 elevation in Artesia to 8.668 elevation in Cloudcroft. There was still snow at Cloudcroft, but not on the road.
Our drive was uneventful until we left Cloudcroft and started down the mountain. We knew it was going to be a very steep decline. Like 6% downhill driving. The speed limit was 35 mph for trucks and 45 mph for cars. Signs were posted about speeding fines being doubled. They were darn serious about this stretch of the road! We were in 1st gear most of the way down and had to stop several times to let our brakes cool down.
At one stop, called the Tunnel Vista, (yes, right after going through a tunnel) we had room to pull off and catch the view of the white sands out in the distance just beyond Alamogordo. As we stood on the edge of the canyon we heard voices. There were cars parked in the lot but no one was around. We searched the area and finally looked up. A couple of guys were practicing rock climbing above the highway.
There was an information sign about the area and how back in 1500 B.C. this tribe lived here. The archeologists found 400 pairs of sandals and other artifacts in the hillside beyond the canyon that gave clues to human occupancy in the cliff side.
After arriving in Alamogordo, we found our way to the Oliver Lee State Park. It is 12 miles out of Alamogordo on Hwy 54. New Mexico parks seem to put their parks miles off the main road! This park was no exception. It is nestled in the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains by Dog Canyon. All the electrical sites were occupied, so we found a dry camping space – at the very top of the park and on the end. It is very private and the views are awesome. We see the mountains looming above us on one side and the valley on the other. We also look out over the desert and the many Torrey Yucca’s that are in different stages of blooming – from budding to full bloom. I do believe we are going to enjoy our time here very much.
We drove into Alamogordo in the late afternoon. Since lunch was way past time and dinner was coming up, we decided to go to the Golden Corral for their senior lunch – $5.99 a person. The food was delicious today and we ate our fill. We decided this was a better way to go with salads, veggies, seafood, chicken cooked 5 different ways and scrumptious desserts than the full meal deal that gives you a hamburger, french fries and a soda for the same price or more.
We came back to the rig and got all set up for our weeks stay. Now to get the bikes down and do some biking and some hiking and lots of sightseeing!