Thirsty for a relaxing vacation? Lavaland RV Park in Grants, New Mexico, serves up a refreshing getaway just 78 miles west of Albuquerque. With only 39 roomy spaces and plenty of shade trees, the uncrowded park offers ample amenities on a sprawling property close to some of the Land of Enchantment’s most stunning attractions. Wet your whistle at the brewery next door to complete the vacation menu.
As the name implies, Lavaland RV Park is surrounded by rugged, rocky landscapes formed eons ago by hot volcanic activity. Nowadays, guests can cool down under the shade trees, including soaring pines, that block the sun from the roomy sites, which include 10 pull-throughs and have a maximum length of 75 feet. Powered by 30- and 50-amp electricity, each site has a table, and there’s plenty of room for slideouts.
Guests can access a slew of entertainment options. The park’s free Wi-Fi supports streaming, and cable TV is also available. A rec hall, horseshoes, and pavilion keep travelers busy, and restrooms and showers, laundry facilities and RV supplies provide onsite convenience. Get the blood pumping on one of the nearby nature trails. Dog owners turn their pets loose at the enclosed dog run.
Beer on Tap
Next to the park office, Elkins Brewing Company pours some of the most satisfying beers in the Southwest. The small company brews lager, rye beer, American light and stouts among a host of items on its eclectic menu. Purchase a flight of four beers for $7 and sample a variety of suds. Growlers also are available for $20. Belly up to the bar and experience beer nirvana — just steps from your campsite.
Loving the Lava
Just 11 miles south of Lavaland, El Malpais National Monument preserves dramatic caves and rock formations formed by several volcanos. Hikers can explore lava flows, cinder cones, pressure ridges and lava tubes. Take a walk under La Ventana Arch, a sandstone marvel that defies gravity.
Within the El Malpais National Monument, the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano opens a door to a subterranean phenomenon. The Ice Cave lava tube preserves ice that glistens in the sunlight. Located on the Continental Divide, the privately owned site tells the story of violent geological upheaval. Nearby, the Bandera Volcano, which erupted 10,000 years ago, has left an 800-foot-deep crater; hike to the rim via a short trail.
Wild Watering Holes
Equally compelling is El Morro National Monument, less than an hour west of Lavaland. For centuries, the site attracted Puebloans, Spanish and American travelers to the watering hole hidden at the base of a towering sandstone bluff. Today, tourists come to see the remarkable rock formations, accessible by trails that snake through the unforgettable terrain. Follow the Inscription Loop Trail, which leads hikers to a natural pool with more than 200,000 gallons of snow and rain runoff. Also on the trail are hundreds of Spanish and American inscriptions carved into the stone. Ancestral Puebloans also left their mark with prehistoric petroglyphs.
Twenty-five miles west of Grants, Bluewater Lake State Park is a 3,000-acre haven for water recreation. Anglers can drop a line for tiger muskies and boaters can hit the throttle for water skiing. Slow things down with a kayaking or paddleboarding trip. Hike trails around the lake and keep on the lookout for the colorful birds that fly overhead, including the great horned owl, blue grosbeak and prairie falcon. Follow trails that snake through the pinion juniper landscape.
Back in Town
Campers who prefer to stay local will discover that the town of Grants, population 10,000, punches well above its weight when it comes to food and fun. Situated on Historic Route 66 (also Interstate 40), the town boasts museums that celebrate the highway’s colorful history as well as works by local artists. Stroll through the New Mexico Mining Museum and discover why the region was once known as the “Uranium Capital of the United States.”
Foodies will find lots of farm-to-table treats at the Farmer’s Market every Saturday from August through October. Obtain spiritual nourishment at the Zuni Mountain Stupa, a Tibetan Buddhist temple in the Zuni Mountains southwest of town. With sweeping views, the temple hosts spiritual retreats.
Visitors can bring home a piece of authentic Navajo culture by attending the Crownpoint Rug Auction held monthly north of Grants. Conducted for more than 50 years, the Navajo-operated event showcases contemporary, handmade, all-wood Navajo rugs. Meet the artisans who crafted the traditional, vibrant designs.
Lavaland RV Park is open year-round, 505-287-8665.