Morphy Lake State Park, NM

A last ditch attempt to camp before the snows come, we took I25 north from Santa Fe and turned off at the first junction at Las Vegas, NM, following the signs for highway 518. I haven’t been in the area for years and even then I used to simply drive to the hot springs and then into the old town plaza afterwards. Nothing much beyond that until this little detour through town. Las Vegas is bigger than I’d thought, well sign-posted too.

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My attention was all over the place, unfocused, distracted, until I drove onto Hwy 94, a small two lane winding north into Mora County. Meadows and open agricultural land, homes and farms plus many a falling down adobe house next to a newer modular mobile home. This forest surrounded me and gave no hint of what lies around each corner.

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A sign, small, brown, hidden within Ledoux, points up hill, #635 to Morphy Lake State Park, a narrow, steep, and misleading entrance for sure. There was no warning for the hairpin turns or limited access, no trailers or RVs up here. I chose a lower gear and trundled up.

Suddenly the road opened onto a lake, almost a crater in the heart of a circle of mountains and thick trees. Beautiful, this lake is only 35 acres and I looked forward to walking the perimeter with the dogs later on.

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I drove to the west side and picked a campsite at the end of the loop, out of the way and near the tracks around the lake. Only a few people and cars were there that Sunday afternoon, fishing each and every one. All locals too as I found out when walking and talking in the evening.

Rosie came back from the walk with a two inch gash in her chest, luckily not bleeding out, just open and vulnerable looking. I’m squeamish, I put her in a tee shirt to keep her from licking it, and me from seeing it. Well, it was Blue’s tee shirt when she came up from Las Vegas for the picnic.

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I spent two days with a fire, food, frito pies, beer and books. We walked three times a day at least, watched the fishermen, and day dreamed as usual. The lake took less than an hour to walk around, a perfect little hike that took the dogs, engaging them yet containing them as they roamed. I could relax as they visited the locals for any extra attention with wagging tails, no one seemed bothered by the pups luckily.

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There are some 24 campsites, all with tables and firepits, there’s no water so bring your own, no electricity, and only a handful of cleaned and nicely maintained vault toilets. I liked the simplicity. The quiet.


The morning sunshine was a welcome sight after a cold night in the back of the truck. The tent poles broke when i tried to set up the night before. Older than I’d figured. Oh well.

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Morphy Lake State Park is somewhere I will return to, especially during the week as i imagine it’s a busy place on the summer weekends being so close to Las Vegas, only 45 minutes if that. It’s a great little lake stocked with all kinds of fish, sweet, cheap at only $10 per night, and a great gateway to day trips into Mora County and across the mountains to Taos. Yep, I’ll be back when it’s a bit warmer.

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