Cross-Country Trip V, Day 8: New Mexico ~ Clayton Lake State Park

Clayton LakeWe had pored over our AAA Campbooks and Tourbooks, trying to figure out what our destination should be for this evening. We were aiming for the general area where Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico all meet. We didn’t want to try to make it all the way to Great Sand Dunes National Park, as it would be dark by the time we got there.

Some online searching turned up a great find: Clayton Lake State Park in New Mexico. We hadn’t expected to go to NM during this trip, but this turned out to be the perfect distance and really a nice spot.

Clayton Lake State Park is a bit north of Clayton, NM. The 12 mile drive winds across relatively flat grassland, and then suddenly you arrive at a butte that overlooks the lake, and the road dead-ends into the campground. The lake is actually a medium-sized reservoir created by a damming Seneca Creek. The campground skirts the south side of the lake. The sites aren’t particularly private, but most of the folks there were day-use folks rather than campers, so we found a nice spot underneath a juniper and pitched our tent.

Dinosaur Tracks at Clayton Lake State ParkThe biggest attraction of Clayton Lake State Park – other than the lake and associated fishing and wildlife – is the dinosaur tracks. At sunset, Dave and I hiked the mile or so from our campground over to the site of the dinosaur tracks. They were made millions of years ago when dinosaurs walked through the mud, which was covered up and preserved until the dam was created. Now, the state park system has built boardwalks around the tracks so visitors can see them up close without wrecking them. I thought they were pretty interesting.

Sunset over Clayton LakeThe rest of the evening was quiet and uneventful. The campground was very quiet, and the stars were beautiful. The weather was perfect, other than a bit of wind, so we slept without the fly on our tent. As we were going to sleep, there must have been a critter dining in the tree above us, because our tent was pelted with juniper berries for a while.

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