Heron Lake State Park

OK so this happened last weekend right before the Fourth, but life is busy and I do some stuff from time to time. Anyway better late than never.

This is it for three days of outdoor activities. I travel light.

I took off a few minutes early from work to rent a couple kayaks from the Recreation Office and we headed north towards Heron Lake New Mexico.

We’ve never been up here so we were very excited to check out a new outdoor space in NM. Let’s start with a picture of what I packed for three days of camping.

Day One – Moist

Firstly “moist” is one of my favorite words. All on it’s own it paints a very vivid word-picture. Yeah you know what I mean.

What I’m trying to say is that after we got on the road to head up to the lake we ran into rain. Not a little rain but ALL OF IT. We didn’t take any pictures of this while driving. We just drove slow and kept moving.

Getting to the sodden campsite, the rain had abated so we quickly set up shop in the interim. We had a good view of the northern portion of the lake from our site. Normally the water would be much closer to us but we live in the desert and it’s been very dry in recent years. I’m told the water level is actually higher than it has been.

It was late enough that I started a fire and made dinner for everyone. Lisa demonstrated her S’more eating technique. Very technical but effective.

After dinner we headed down to the lakeside to do a little fishing. What looked like an easy walk down to the shoreline was actually an easy walk through wet and tacky clay. This area used to be lake bed and it had been raining all day. It stuck to our feet and built up under our shoes so it was like walking in heels. Something I’m not experienced in despite rumors to the contrary.


Sunset over Lake Heron. Day One.


Day Two – Make up your Damn Mind About the Weather!

IMG_0399I woke up early after a solid nights sleep (I didn’t even get up to pee once!) and headed out for an early morning run. I headed south from our campsite along Salmon Run. I figured I’d be getting in about 5 with the out and back based on the map.

I was very excited to hit new dirt. I always enjoy exploring new running routes and experiencing new scenery and today was all new!

Almost immediately after entering through some tall Ponderosa Pine I noted some movement off the well-groomed trail and saw two wild turkeys cross the trail quickly.


The trail continued to meander south and was mostly runnable and well groomed, but I encountered patches of that same tacky lake bed. While my Salomon’s have been pretty good about shedding mud this stuff just clung to me and almost dragged my shoes off my feet!

It built up so quickly that I had to stop and scrape it off about every 10-20 steps for a mile or so. It slowed me down and made me walk on my toes like a god-damned princess.

It’s tough to see but if you look closely you can see the layer of mud under my sole.

I made it down to the dam though and was treated to beautiful views of Lake Heron on the north and Rio Chama to the south.

Lake Heron
Rio Chama. Look at the colors!

I then headed up the road and took the trail over to the Rio Chama suspension bridge. I got some beautiful views down into the valley but I couldn’t go down to the bridge. The stairs are closed!


and then the rain started!

The rain kicked in then so I headed back to camp for breakfast! Pancakes and bacon and fresh coffee!

Then it was off to find our adventures for the day. First stop was the Visitors Center to follow breakfast up with free muffins and cupcakes. Oh and advice about places to visit. The girls were anxious to hit the water so we loaded up the kayaks and put them in, only to get rained out immediately. We packed them up and headed back to camp for lunch, which was intermittently rainy and sunny. We were very confused.

Afterwards we decided to try the kayaks again and were blessed with sun for the rest of the day. We launched the kayaks and swam and played at the boat landing which was frigid. It’s a good thing I’m sterile already or that water would have done it! The girls didn’t seem to mind though.

Dinner followed and the sunshine continued. The girls played a game or two of Uno whilst I played in my hammock. Then bedtime. I did get up to pee and boy I was glad I did. The stars were IMMENSE. I swear there were more stars than there was darkness.


Day Three – Sunshine

Or last day at the park was marked by lots of time out in the sun. I headed north for a run to explore the other half of the Salmon Run trail (I saw a herd of deer), then after breakfast we hiked a short nature trail, then tried to get down to the Rio Chama suspension bridge (too rough a hike with the girls). So we headed back to the beach and hiked and kayaked and fished.

This is how I found them when I returned.
Animal, my breakfast buddy.
Eggses! And Bacon.


The nature trail was short but very informative. I’d wager we can all correctly identify Ponderosa Pine, Juniper, Gambel Oak, Piñon Pine, Mountain Mahogany and Soapweed Yucca!


Rio Chama with suspension bridge in the distance.


Since we couldn’t get to the bridge we spent the rest of the day playing at the beach before heading home tired yet refreshed. You know what I mean. We had a blast here and plan on coming back and getting out to that bridge and exploring more of the trails.

We’re all looking forward to the challenge.


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