Traveling with Kids: Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Our family recently visited Valley of Fires Recreation Area while on vacation to the Southwest. Traveling with kids always presents unique challenges. But we found that Valley of Fires in New Mexico was exciting not just for our two children, but for me and my husband as well.

Location:

Near Carrizozo in the Tularosa Valley of Central New Mexico.

Cost Per Day:

  • $5 per car carrying two or more
  • $7 to camp
  • $12-$25 for RVs, shelters, etc.

Activities:

  • Visitor's Center with literature and gifts.
  • Paved trail with interpretive displays.
  • Picnic tables and restrooms.

What We Liked:

  • It is one of the first outdoor recreation spots you'll reach coming into New Mexico from the East or Northeast. It came at just the right time for us – when we really needed to stretch our legs.
  • The path is exciting, but not dangerous. I could let our three year old get a few yards ahead without fear and they could safely jog and skip.
  • The abundant, shiny hunks of black lava are unlike anything most people have seen. The kids are amazed and curious, but so are parents.
  • There is a lot to learn at every level. Parents can delve into the ecology of the terrain and the complex geology. For kids, there are simple lessons to learn through observation: the unique adaptations of desert plants, the ripples in the rock that show how it was once liquid, the animals and bugs scurrying into cracks and holes in the lava.
  • The scenery is gorgeous. The whole Tularosa Valley is spectacular before and after Carrizozo. You definitely want to take a look up from the path once in a while and appreciate the beauty of the whole area.

What We Didn't Like:

  • Although the picnic shelters were very nice, the restroom stalls didn't have flush "potties", sinks, or hand sanitizer. Everything was clean, however, and well maintained. Acceptable for what is was, but expect to be changing diapers in your car and pack Purell.

Horrifying Travel Experiences? Be Sure to Thoroughly Review, Before You Decide to Stay

After having spent the past few years traveling throughout Europe with my family, I have learned a few key lessons about traveling. One of the foremost being: thoroughly review a facility before you decide to stay the night there.

We were up Norway sightseeing for our summer vacation. As always, mom had already researched and booked places for us to stay during our travels. In most cases, it was a hostel or perhaps a hotel, depending on what type of area we were in. Well this time it was just a little hostel ran by a middle aged woman. Everything looked nice and homey from what we had seen in the pictures online… it was homey all right. So we arrive there finally after hours of driving, and it turns out that it is just a house. Confused, we approached the door and inquired if this was the right place. Sure enough it was. The exterior of the house was decent and well maintained, but the inside… yikes! Okay, this lady was a packrat. Random things and junk were everywhere inside the house. On top of that, we discovered that we weren't the only tenants in the house. There were 13 in total. -Now you must understand that this house was not meant to be an apartment. It was a standard house with perhaps five or six bedrooms and two floors. Looking back it was definitely a trip to remember. The house was noisy and chaotic for the entire time. The people downstairs enjoyed partying and watching movies all night long. We ended up staying at that house for three or so nights. No one was sad to leave when the time came.

From that experience I learned the value of thoroughly reviewing the places that you are thinking about staying at. Sometimes it's worth it to pay a bit more money and be assured a safe and hospitable facility to spend the night in.…