Soda Pocket

Campground overview from the Grande Vista trail

Soda Pocket campground in Sugarite Canyon State park is surrounded by wildflowers. This feature alone would make it a nice campground. However, it also has trails, an amphitheater with weekend events, and pleasantly-spaced campsites. As I type this in the campground, I have also seen several species of birds.

This campground contains trailheads for or is near the following hikes: Ponderosa Ridge, Deer Run, Grade Vista, Little Horse Mesa.

Due to the 2011 fire, this campground is closed. You should check with the park before heading there if you intend on staying here.

Campground data:

Controlling agency: New Mexico State Parks; Sugarite Canyon
Region: Northeast; Sugarite Canyon State Park.
CG elevation: 7919ft; 2414m
Campsite count: 25.
Visual density: 0.00. Visual density not recorded.
Fee: $10.00.
Season: April 01 to October 31. The actual season depends on when the snow arrives and melts.
Dogs: Yes. on leash
Horses: Unknown.
Handicapped accessible: Yes.
RV parking surface: dirt
RV pull-through spaces? Yes.
RV parking notes: Only site 9 is pull-through.
General RV notes: RV Hookups and a dump station are available at the nearby Lake Alice campground.

The road up to the campground is steep and not all RVs are suitable for it.

General notes: They sell ice at the visitor center.

Sites 2, 4, 7, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20, and 23 have shades over the picnic table. These would also be useful when the summer thunderstorms roll in in the afternoon. Some of the other sites have trees that provide either morning or afternoon shade.

Sites 2, 3, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, and 23 have bear-proof containers, presumably for storing food.

Bring bug repellent; the mosquitos are hungry, especially at dusk.

I was buzzed by a hummingbird while typing this; bring your hummingbird feeder.

The park contains two lakes, which appear to be popular for fishing.

The tables seem to have been designed for a very tall person.

On Labor Day weekend 2004, people were arriving Friday or earlier and holding sites for others to arrive later. Checking in the visitor's center, I was told that if you pay for the extra spot when you want to hold it, this is OK.

Campground facilities: water (Available in the park at the visitor center and at the Lake Alice campground. It might not be available in the campground. When we were there in 2004, a sign said that the water was turned off, but the hydrants must have been well-hidden. Checking at the visitor's center then, we were told that it is not known when the water will be restored.), trash can(s), vault toilet(s), flush toilet(s) (At the visitor center.), cooking grill (Sites without fire pits have cooking grills. Some have both.), fire pit (With a cooking grate. Not all sites have fire pits.), showers (across from the visitor center, 7am to 8pm.), RV dump station.
Campground attractions: hiking, wildlife, wildflowers, fishing, boating, history, lake.

When we visited it:

Date: 2004-09-03
Cleanliness: 9. Very clean toilets.
General notes: A sign said that the water was turned off, but the hydrants must have been well-hidden. Checking at the visitor's center, we were told that it is not known when the water will be restored.


Waypoint Type Description
SODAPKTCGCampgroundSoda Pocket Campground


Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
Wildernesses of New Mexico US Forest Service 1981 1:1000000 N No online copies. Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.

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Getting to the campground:

Take exit 452 from I-25 in Raton. Head east on NM 72 for 3.5 miles; this is the junction with NM 526. Take NM 526 (go straight) for 1.7 miles to the park visitor center.

From the visitor center, continue 2.2 miles to the turnoff to the Soda Pocket campground. This road is steep; keep this in mind if you are in a heavy or underpowered vehicle. This did not prevent RVs (especially trailers) from making it. The campground is 1.5 miles up the road, and the road ends in the campground.

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About the campground:

Our truck in site 24
On the Friday of Labor Day weekend, I arrived at the wrong time to get any of the sites that have manufactured shade and rain protection. However, this site (24) has nice shade until afternoon. Plus, shade from trees has a nicer feel than artificial shade. Overall, I think that this is one of the nicer campsites in the campground.
Some of the sites might be considered "view sites", such as sites 9 and 10 pictured here.
Sites 9 and 10 and their view NNE
Sites 6 and part of 10 showing shade
Here you can see sites 6 and (part of) 7. Note the manufactured shade.
One of the most striking features of this campground is the profusion of wildflowers; they are most anywhere that is not mowed.
Wildflowers in the campground
Sites 6 and part of 10 showing shade
About half of the sites have these containers for storing food to keep it away from bears. If you have a tent, you really do not want to be storing the food in the open or in the tent with you. These containers give you another option. In site 3, someone left the doors open; maybe to show the bears that it was empty?

Plants we saw around the campground:

Reader comments about this campground:

On Tue Mar 14 15:52:46 2006 Joel from Rio Rancho, NM said:
We stayed there in April 2005, and LOVE this place. The camp host was the best weve ever dealt with. He did rounds at night to make sure no one was keeping anyone awake as well as being really friendly. The atmosphere was excellent and the hikes are wonderful. Lake is nearby, small, but still nice to fish at.

We'll be making this a yearly stop!

On Sat Jul 18 07:55:53 2009 Greg from Somewhere said:
I lived in New Mexico for 34 years and never knew about this camp ground. It took moving to Kansas and then looking for cooler spot to go camping to find Sugrite Canyon. We stayed in the Soda Pop camp ground and it is a very nice camp ground one of the nicest I've ever stayed in. Sites 24 and 25 are very good. You have an open meadow next to you that provides you views of turkey and deer coming through each day early in morning and late afternoon. Also the shade trees are good at those 2 sites especially if you are traveling with another family and both of you get those 2 sites. They pair up nicely. I will go back.

On Sun Sep 27 17:46:36 2009 bob from Rio Rancho said:
My wife and I just wanted to get away and we drove up on Sat 26Sep09 and parked ourselves on site 4. I was very nice there. We didn't see any bear but did so about 15 or so turkeys Sat evening. I'll go back it was a very nice campgound.

On Thu Jul 7 12:44:02 2016 Lynn from Somewhere said:
Beautiful campground! Clean and host on site. No electric or cell service. Very quiet during the week. On the holiday weekend, two large groups moved in and had many cars and visitors that joined the party. Very loud generator that was moved away from their trailer so they could hear each other and placed directly behind us with the exhaust pointed in our direction. We could not talk to each other. Party goers were walking through our campsite to get to the other site of party goers. The music coming from both campsites of partiers was the least of the issue. We packed up and left 4 days early! Would return during the week but would leave for the weekend. Was informed later that it is a spot for the locals to go and party. They took up trailers/popups and left them un-opened and deserted to hold spaces. Such a shame and very disappointing for those of us that enjoy the quite, birds, wildlife and serenity of the great outdoors.

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