From the start, our plan was to buy a New Mexico State Park pass and spend the bulk of the winter here. As you can see below (pine trees on the map) there are lots of state parks in the Land of Enchantment to choose from.

New Mexico State Park Map

New Mexico has a slick program. For non-residents it costs $225 for an annual state park pass. The state parks in New Mexico cost $14 per day for a site with electricity and water. With the pass it costs $4 for a site with water and electricity. After 23 days the pass has paid for itself. You get a camp site with electricity, water, clean bathrooms and showers for $4 per day. How can you beat that? Well we inadvertently did! Just by chance we bought our pass at Oasis State Park on November 1st. It is good until the end of November 2019. That’s 13 months of state park camping in New Mexico.

Life is good.

One more thing about New Mexico State Parks. Sue and I hate to commit ourselves to be in any one spot, so we seldom make reservations. We like the option of changing our minds. In New Mexico a percentage of the camping sites are Walk-Ins. (first come first serve). We avoid arriving on weekends. We have yet to be skunked.

Oasis State Park in Portales, NM was really nothing more than a fishing hole in the middle of the desert. There was a man made pond that was kept stocked with a variety of fish. While we were there it was stocked with rainbow trout. Earlier in the year it was stocked with catfish.

There were park benches all around the edges of the pond where people sat and fished. There was a kids fishing clinic the weekend we were there that was very well attended. They set up six stations. Each station was teaching a different skill to the kids. I sat in on two clinics, fishing poles and filleting a fish. I thought the fishing clinic was a great idea.

Despite not having a fishing pole and a “do not drink the water because of nitrates” alert we had a good time here. Scaled quail and rabbits rambled through our site daily. Sand Cranes and Snow Geese flew over head. Coyotes howled at night and we had spectacular night skies.

One day we took a side trip to Blackwater Draw National Historic Site, an archaeology excavation site where they have found the bones of bison, mammoths, saber-tooth tigers and is the site of the oldest hand dug wells in the New World.

Blackwater Draw Unfortunately the site was closed. However, on the way back some rain squalls came through and I took this picture of a rainbow over Shiny.


The other notable side trip we took from Oasis was to Grulla National Wildlife Refuge. It is a migratory stopover for sandhill cranes. We saw thousands of cranes but we could not get close to them.

We waited around Oasis until the day before the midterm elections hoping my absentee ballot would show up. But alas it never did.

UPDATE: I finally received my ballots on December 7th. Almost 2 months after they were sent. Both were addressed correctly.


  1. Too bad you couldn’t catch any fish. Stocking rainbows in a desert pond? Incredible. Too bad about your ballot. Wonder what happened. I’m sure you don’t miss the freezing temps we’re having here. Love to you both.

    1. Only the postal gods know where those absentee ballots went. Have not received either one to this day.

      We saw some nice trout taken out of that pond and one 18 inch catfish. I heard there were bass in there as well. None of the fish I saw caught were released.

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