"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Friday, May 8, 2015

Two Unique RV Parks: NRA Whittington and Sand Dunes Swimming Pool

Sometimes we stop at campgrounds for unusual reasons. Mostly we're looking for nice big sites, comfortable amenities, good views, a dog park, walking trails, water, interesting towns nearby, and all that. But I found two RV parks that piqued my interest for completely different reasons. 

First, the National Rifle Association Whittington Center, near Raton, New Mexico.  

The main entrance to the NRA Whittington Center. Those are flags of all 50 US States.

There are cabins and an RV park on the property, very similar in style to a state park. It's primary function however, as you might guess from it's name, is as a comprehensive and high quality shooting range.  While both Rick and I are in support of the Second Amendment in principle, we are not gun enthusiasts by any means.  We are not NRA members, and have no particular position on the NRA.  We were mainly curious about the place. 

Entrance gate and offices

The Whittington Center is an impressive 33,300 acre property in the volcanic foothills of northern New Mexico. It is backed on one entire side by hills and mesas, giving all the ranges a safe bumper, or safety zone, or whatever you call it.

One of the many shooting ranges that we could see from our site.

The directory.

Another shooting range.

Clay pigeon range, I believe.

Another shooting range

The views in every direction are grand and there is lots of wildlife to see as well. We saw large herds of elk, deer and pronghorn. But we didn't see anyone shooting anything on any of the many ranges. We were just one of a few RVers and that was about it for activity at the Whittington.  

Our pull-through site with great views

"Home, home on the range"

Another view from our site

They offer multi day classes in many kinds of shooting skills, and access to the ranges for NRA members. I don't think we'd come back to this location just for the RV Park, but sport shooters or gun enthusiasts might find it an ideal spot. 
Our next stop was the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool and RV Park, a very remote location 23 miles from Alamosa, CO. We came for the hot pools. They have a very nice campground with three sections for partial hook-ups (water & electric), dry camping and tent sites. 

The laundry/bath house was near new and super clean, with two full, very comfortable, warm, private  bathrooms with showers.

Everywhere there is evidence of the hot springs that feed the pool. The place is surrounded by wetlands created by the springs, with abundant small wildlife living on and in the water. The water that comes from the water spigot at the RV site is hot. All the grass and trees are irrigated by the fresh warm run-off from the pools. 

Oh, and the whole place is very dog friendly. Dogs are even allowed in the pool and picnic areas without a leash, and can swim in the warm run off streams (below), though not in the pools themselves. Big extra points for all that.

Again, we were practically the only folks in the campground for most of the week.  Not so at the pool though!  It was hopping with the local folks, from morning 'til night every day of the week. Bus loads of kids came from the local schools for lessons. Mature folks came to swim laps and exercise. Families with kids of all ages came in the evenings and on weekends. We did find a nice quiet time between the adult lap swim and the open swim, between 9-10 AM most mornings.

The main pool was olympic-sized and divided width-ways into three sections for diving, lap swimming and shallow playing. 

The water was kept at about 100 degrees. It comes out of the earth at about 108 I believe, and is cooled by various sprinkling methods throughout the day, depending on the air temperature. 

The run-off from the constantly filling pool is used for a little stream, waterfall and water slide.

There are also various recreational facilities, such as basketball and volley ball courts, and plenty of lounge chairs and picnic tables.

In this protected area there is a large therapy pool with jets, a good restaurant... 

...and a wading pool for kids.  There's even a swim suit spinner. (Ever seen one of those? That's it just off the right side of the above picture - about the size of a drinking fountain.)

They just opened an adults-only section called The Greenhouse, with four hot tub of various sizes and shapes, a sauna, and a refreshment bar (non-alcohlic at the moment). Everything about the whole place was clean, freshly painted, well maintained and demonstrating thoughtfulness for their customers. The pools are open year round and must be a real blessing for cold locals in the midwinter months.

As an extra added bonus, there were great views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Great Sand Dunes National Park, with dramatic skies reflected in the surrounding ponds almost every day. 

The Sangre de Cristos reflected in the nearby warm ponds of the protected wildlife areas.

Virga over the Sangre de Cristos

I really like finding some variety in the ongoing stream of RV parks we live in. I've heard of a dog resort RV park called Four Paws Kingdom Campground in Rutherfordton, NC. What a great idea! How about an animal rescue place? Or a zoo? Or a zip-line, sky-diving and climbing wall center? Or a craft or photography school? A riding stable? A snorkeling RV park?

Does anyone know about other unique RV parks? We'd love to hear. 


  1. Lenore, Have you been to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT? They have 2 full hookup rv spaces and then your can tour the amazing animal sanctuary and the beautiful property and you are close to some other beautiful area, such as the east side of Zion. Might qualify as a unique place to check out.

  2. Both places look very interesting. I don't think I'd want to be at the shooting range park if it was really busy, I bet it can get pretty noisy! We stayed at Usery over a weekend once and the shooting was nonstop. You lucked out with an empty park and lots of wildlife...perfect!

    I'm amazed at the variety and quality of amenities at the hot pools park! Thanks for telling us about these unique parks.

    1. We did luck out. Not a shot was fired and all was peaceful and calm. Ironic that it would be calmer and quieter than the hot tubs!


Want to leave a comment?