A nice, spacious State Park within walking distance of Heron Lake in North-Central New Mexico.
- Site Quality = 4/5
Heron Lake has ~6 separate camping areas dotted around Heron Lake. The electric hookups are in Willow Creek/Blanco area of which Blanco is the newer and (by far) more spacious campground.
-> In Blanco the sites are very large (several could easily fit 2 big-rigs), very flat gravel with great separation, 30Amp/water, picnic table and fire-pit. There are both pull-throughs and back-ins with varying levels of shade.
-> Willow Creek has a similar set-up, but campsites are much closer together with less privacy. Willow does have 4 full hookup sites.
My main ding is that there are no real views of the lake from either Blanco or Willow Creek.
-> Outside of these two there are ~5 other primitive and non-hookup camping areas dotted around the lake. Most are very tight, more uneven and not suitable for big-rigs. The only area we thought accessible was Ponderosa Campground (non-hookup) which had limited shade/privacy, but did boast more open roads/sites and full views of the water.
- Facilities = 3.5/5
Good facilities. Flush toilets and showers, all spacious and kept decently clean. Only ding is that (like all the state parks here) they have that timer button on the shower. All campgrounds have access to the lake via either trails or boat ramp. Picnic and fishing opportunities. On-site dump station.
- Location = 3/5
The campground here is nicely located next to Heron Lake, but is a tad longer drive from town (~15 miles to Chama) and the associated sights. Another slight ding is the lake area right near the campground is covered in very large slate blocks making walking along the shore a little more adventurous. However there is plenty of opportunity to fish and hike on-site including the pretty Rio Chama trail.
- Pet Friendliness = 5/5
Good doggie-spot. Lots of hiking right from the campground as well as short 10-min walk to the lake to splash and play.
Overall Rating = 3.9
BONUS ALERT = Spacious camping within walking distance of Heron Lake!
Summary: Heron Lake is a fairly large State Park with ~7 separate campgrounds dotted around Heron Reservoir. It’s a slightly unusual lake in that portions of the shoreline are covered in large slate blocks. However it’s set beautifully with lots of hiking and areas to fish. The electric hookup sites (Willow/Blanco) are spacious and pretty, especially the newer Blanco section. Neither of these have views of the lake, but it’s a short 10-min walk away. Many opportunities for non-hookup and primitive camping around other areas of the lake. You are ~15 miles from Chama and the associated sights. The campsite does seem popular and fills up with families in the week-end, but still manages to feel natural and relaxed. Overall a decent location in a good setting. It doesn’t make the top of our New Mexico stay, but it’s a lovely area and we’d certainly stay again.
Extra Info: Decent 3G connection from Blanco. Sites cost $18/night (full hookup – 4 sites in Willow Creek only), $14/night for 30Amp electric/water and $10/night (no hookups). Camping fees can be covered with New Mexico Annual Camping Permit. 60 sites in electric (Willow/Blanco) area with ~250 developed sites overall. Approx. 75% of sites in Willow/Blanco are reservable, with reminder first-come-first-serve. On-site dump station.
Extra, Extra Info – Railroad Buff? If you’re a true railroad buff and would like to be right next to the action, the private Rio Chama RV Park is right in town and walking distance to the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad. It gets good reviews.