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Sugarite Canyon State Park, a gem of a park near the Colorado state line, has some of the state's best hiking, camping, wildflower viewing, fishing, and bird-watching ("sugarite" is a corruption of the Comanche word chicorica, meaning "an abundance of birds," and is pronounced shug-ur-eet). The road to Sugarite twists and turns high up into the canyon to Lake Maloya, a trout-stocked body of water from which a spillway carries overflow down into the canyon. From its 7,800-foot elevation hills rise up the eastern and western canyon walls where miners once dug for ore; you can still see gray slag heaps and remnants of the coal camp, which thrived here from 1910 to 1940, along portions of the park road near the visitor center (the former coal-camp post office) and down near the base of the canyon. The center contains exhibits on the mining legacy, and from here you can hike 1½ mi to the original camp.
Hikes elsewhere in the park range from the easy ½-mi Grande Vista
Nature Trail to the pleasant 4-mi jaunt around Lake Maloya to the challenging Opportunity Trail. "Caprock" is the name given to the park's striking basaltic rock columns, which were formed millions of years ago when hot lava from a nearby volcano created the 10- to 100-foot-thick rocks. Climbing is permitted on these sheer cliffs, although it's not recommended for the faint of heart.
NM 526, 7 mi northeast of Raton via NM 72, Raton, New Mexico, 87740, United States
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