City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico

Photo by John Fowler

Where in the West Should I Go? • 52 Places to Visit in 2022

Situated midway between the towns of Silver City and Deming, City of Rocks State Park has been described as, “In the middle of a place very close to nowhere, just south of somewhere and a little past over there.” In other words, it’s remote. 

The “Silent City” is a geologic formation made up of rock columns rising as high as 40 feet. Follow paths that resemble streets through the pinnacles into the heart of the city. The columns formed about 34.9 million years ago in a volcanic eruption. Erosion sculptured the columns into the almost otherworldly landscape we see today.

People have inhabited the area for thousands of years. In the mid-1800s, the Butterfield Trail Stagecoach line ran near the park. Pueblo, Hispanic and Euro-Americans have farmed the Mimbres Valley for centuries. If you seek a taste of the Southwest as it was, is, and will be, look no further. City of Rocks is a timeless city.

The park also has several RV spots with hookups. If you like to do it the old way, there are plenty of primitive campsites as well. Last summer, I witnessed a litter of kit fox pups playing no more than 30 feet from my campsite for hours on end. I’ve only witnessed a coati in the wild once, and it was at the City of Rocks. 

–John Gist