The drive from Roswell to Datil is a little over 200 miles and took us through breathtaking scenery and great small towns. It was great to be back in the west. We headed through Picacho and Hondo gaining elevation as we drove. Picacho is a little over 3,900 feet and Hondo is at 5,200 feet both offered beautiful ranch land nestled in the mountains.
Lincoln, New Mexico is a bit further west and is steeped in western US history with the incident that started the Lincoln County War and tales of Billy the Kid. There are museums and old buildings and the town feels like it is frozen in time. More importantly the town is where our adorable Tracker vehicle was damaged in a hail storm a few years back. We will always remember Lincoln in this way!! Sob, sob…..
Capitan is again, a bit further west and is home to Smokey Bear with a museum and practically everything in town named after him.
Carrizozo is at the crossroads where you can head south to Alamagordo or north to Santa Rosa. OR continue west to Datil. Carrizozo is a quaint, charming town and home to Valley of Fires Recreation Area.
The Very Large Array (AKA VLA) is on the Plains of San Agustin and home to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. It went into operation in 1980 and is the most powerful radio telescope in the world. It is comprised of twenty eight 25-meter radio telescope where black holes, young stars, pulsars, quasars, and other objects in the universe are monitored and researched. The area was selected for the observatory because it is located in a flat stretch of desert surrounded by mountains that helps prevent radio interference from cities. The Visitor Center is closed to the public until further notice but there is a roadside stopping area to allow you to stop and gawk at the telescopes.
Datil Wells Campground is a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campground and is named for having one of the 15 wells along the old Magdalena Livestock Driveway. The driveway stretched 120 miles from Springerville, Arizona to Magdalena, New Mexico and was used as a cattle trail in the 1800’s. The campground has 22 campsites and is open year round. Water is turned off in the winter (approximately Nov through April depending on the weather).
Campground: Datil Wells Campground
Location: Datil, New Mexico (just west of town on Hwy 60 about 1 mile)
Site: 19 (pull-thru)
Cost: $2.50 (50% off with Interagency Pass)
Services: Dry camping
Comments: A fabulous self-register campground with great sites with lots of site privacy. The campground is just off the main highway by less than 1/2 mile and is one loop of sites. The largest sites are the higher numbers and offer electricity but the electricity wasn’t on when we were there. The price is same regardless of the site. The campground is first come first serve and sits at around 7,400 feet so it can be cold even in the spring. We had temperatures below freezing at night when we camped there but beautiful sunny days.
Here’s a few of the other sites and most sites seemed to be mostly level with a number of both pull thrus and back-ins.
There are a few hiking trails at the campground that take you through pinyon-juniper and ponderosa pine woodlands. It is beautiful scenery with fantastic views. We love this area.
We WILL be back!!