On our last camping excursion we discovered a little place called Shuree Ponds, tucked high into the mountains of New Mexico on the Valle Vidal, which is a 100,000 acre section of the Carson National Forest, east of Costilla. The elevations of the Valle Vidal range from 7,400 ft to 12,554 ft. Shuree ponds are somewhere in the 9,500 range.
If you’re traveling from Amarillo, the easiest way to get to Shuree ponds is to travel up 87, through Dalhart, Clayton and on to Raton. At Raton, hop on 25 going south, then merge onto 64 going SW. Before you hit the small town of Cimarron, you will turn North on a little dirt road-fr1950. About 5 1/2 or 6 hours after leaving home, you’ll see the sign for Shuree Ponds. Cimarron Campground, where we stayed, is another 15-20 minutes up the road.
Although the ponds are accessible from fr1950, we found the ponds from a trailhead starting in our campground. Just a short half-mile hike takes you through the trees, over a creek and into a valley, which hosts several ponds and a few old buildings.
After you cross the creek, you follow a trail up a small incline and then…
… an expanse of grass encircled with trees and distant mountains greet you before you see the ponds.
Apparently, the ponds are known as one of the best fishing destinations in New Mexico. They offer quality rainbow trout, a pond designated just for your kids, and beautiful views.
The land on which the ponds reside was included in the 2 million acre Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant from the Mexican government in 1841. This is the largest land grant in American history. Later called the Maxwell Grant, it was entangled in the Colfax County War in the 1880s. In 1982, Pennzoil (the then-current landowners) donated 101,794 acres of its 492,000 acre Vermejo Ranch to the federal government, in exchange for unpaid back taxes. Before that donation it was a retreat center for the oil company, which is why a huge empty building still stands on the property. We learned all of this from the park ranger and camp host who were there trying to get the well turned on for the campground. All of the water that gets pumped to the campgrounds has to be tested and certified as safe to use; until that’s done, no running water is available (which is why they waived our camp fees-water wasn’t on yet). With them we discussed the dispersed camping rules, nearby hiking and the “haunted” building that stood yards from our conversation.
The kind men told us about two nearby hikes-one that leads to an old boy scout camp and another to a ghost town along a creek. Since we decided to stay an extra day (yes, it was that lovely), we did both hikes. Stay tuned for that post next!
Here are some tips and links if you plan on visiting the area:
Shuree Ponds fishing info (restrictions, etc.)
Here’s what the Angler Guide of New Mexico has to say about Shuree Ponds
If you love to fish, consider camping and fishing along Costilla river & creek. We drove by this park when we drove into the mountains Sunday night, and it was beautiful! Learn more about Rio Costilla Park here.