Oliver Lee Memorial Campground, Alamogordo, NM

Sunset at White Sands National Monument
Captured at the very last moment before the sun ducked behind some clouds on the horizon. The sand is quite white but the red color of the late afternoon soon makes it pinkish here and I really liked its delicate tones set against those of the red grasses and pale blue sky. Other than adjusting the brightness of the image down somewhat no alterations have been made.

CAMPGROUND NAME: Oliver Lee Memorial Campground
LOCATION: About 16 miles south of Alamogordo, NM
KIND: State Park
RATES: $14 for water and 30/20 amp electricity
RESERVATIONS ACCEPTED: Yes, through ReserveAmerica. 800-664-7787. Of the 44 sites only 7 are reservable. About 17 have water and 30 amp electrical hookups and no hookups for the remaining sites, except the handicap site which has 50 amp service.
CAMPGROUND MAP: See image included with this report
PHONE: 575-437-8284. This is the park office
GPS: N 32.74804, W 105.91454 This marks the park office.

Charlene at Oliver Lee
This is Charlene in her tilty space. I could not get level in space 5 at Oliver Lee. The second day space 8 opened up which is much less tilty and we moved over there. The views are nice from pretty much everywhere.

ACCESS: Roads to and in the campground are paved. Turn off Route 54 and head east about 4 miles to the campground.
SURFACING: Camp sites are gravel
PULL THRU: If you consider turn-outs to be pull-thrus then yes
MAXIMUM RIG SIZE: I’d check with the office. The sites I saw weren’t the largest but there were some pretty good size rigs here.
TENTS: I think they are OK but check with the office
LEVELNESS: This campground sits on an alluvial fan which has slope. Many if not most of the sites are rather tilty. Of the reservation sites 2-4 may be the best.
SPACING: Moderate
TENT PADS: Not that I saw but I didn’t explore Loop B
PETS: On leash

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park Campground Map
Here’s a shot of the map they hand out at the campground office of Oliver Lee Memorial Park. Loop A and the road between it and Loop B have all of the sites with electricity. Note the legend as to which they are. The sites shown in green are the reservable sites. There is some useful info on the map if you look. Most of the sites are pretty tilty. At first I was in 5 and could not get level. Then I moved to 8 where it was not a problem.

HOOKUPS:The park web site indicates 16 electric sites with 30 amp, 16 water and electricity with 20/30 amp and one site for the disabled with water, 20/20/50 amp
ELECTRICAL QUALITY: 124 volts, 60 Hz, no faults (As indicated by my Progressive Industries Power Management System, Model EMS-PT30C.)
WATER PRESSURE: Maybe a little low

Note: With my AT&T iPhone 5s cell service was intermittent, with and without my cell booster. It vacillated from No Service to 5 bars with 4G, back and forth on a moment-to-moment basis. Sometimes I had no data connection while at other times I did, with and without the booster. Cellular connectivity with my AT&T iPhone at this location was perhaps the most erratic I’ve ever encountered. The numbers provided below should be taken loosely, knowing that readings varied.

AT&T iPhone 5s without Wilson Mobile 4G booster:
3 bars, 4G at times, other times No Service
Signal strength: 85%, -59.8 dBm, best case
Download speed: up to 4.16 Mbps
Upload speed: up to .50 Mbps

Oliver Lee General Store Water Tower Remains
Oliver Lee General Store Water Tower Remains

AT&T iPhone 5s with Wilson Mobile 4G booster:
5 bars at times, 4G at times, other times No Service
Signal strength: 85%, -59.8 dBm, best case
Download speed: 2.65 Mbps
Upload speed: .78 Mbps

Verizon iPad Air without Wilson Mobile 4G booster:
4 bars, LTE
Download speed: 12.51 Mbps
Upload speed: 7.50 Mbps

Verizon iPad Air with Wilson Mobile 4G booster:
4 bars, LTE
Download speed: 8.89 Mbps
Upload speed: 4.52 Mbps

Over-the-air: Yes. Scanning for stations my TV located about 40.
Cable: None
WiFi: None

RESTROOM RATING: Fail. Beginning today I’m going to fail restrooms that don’t have hand soap and warm water. Except for no warm water at the sinks the men’s restroom was pretty nice. (I assign a Pass or Fail rating based on many considerations including: cleanliness, usability, hot water availability, hand soap availability, ease or difficulty it is to use the toilet paper, condition of fixtures, if using the restroom is a pleasant or unpleasant experience, etc.)
SOAP: Hand soap
TOILETS: Flush and vault
SHOWER RATING: Fail (I evaluate showers in a similar fashion to restrooms. See above.) Men’s showers have those push buttons that turn themselves off. One shower shut itself off almost immediately making it unusable, unless you had 3 hands. The other, the handicap shower, was very cramped and awkward to use. It also had a slippery floor. If you weren’t disabled going in you might be disabled before you leave. The button had to be pressed every 40 seconds to keep the water flowing. Water temperature cannot be adjusted and it may not be hot enough to shower. The state of New Mexico should be embarrassed by the conditions here.

BUGS: Not when I was there in January

White Sands National Monument
I was in photographer’s heaven at White Sands National Monument. My friend Tim and I accidentally walked into an area that was off limits. Before the park rangers came and booted us out we managed to get off a few shots. This area had plants and zero footprints except those from birds and animals. Almost everywhere else we went was littered with human footprints, people, had little if any plant life, and was thus uninteresting.

Gas: Probably Alamogordo about 15-20 miles
Dump: In the campground
Propane: AllStays indicates Alamogordo
Groceries: There’s a Loves supermarket and a Walmart with some groceries in Alamogordo. Oliver Lee General Store just outside the campground but I don’t know what food they have, if any. Perhaps the park personnel know.

Charlene at Oliver Lee
Charlene has a nice view of the mountains at Oliver Lee Memorial Park Campground

Oliver Lee Memorial Park Campground–phew, that’s a mouthful–is a good jumping off point to visit White Sands National Monument. There are  a few priavte campgrounds closer to  White Sands but not with the remote feel or low price of Oliver Lee.  White Sands is a place I’ve wanted to visit in order to photograph for some time. White Sands, by the way, is sometimes closed due to missile testing at the nearby missle test range.  Call  White Sands to check the schedule 575-479-6124.

The campground is on the small side with just 30 spaces and roughly half have hookups (see above). Sitting on an alluvial plain the campground on its slope, many of the sites are not nearly level. In fact, I could not get level in #5 and moved to #8 as soon as it opened up. When I arrived #5 was the only site with water and electricity that was available. It can be hard to get such a site here. Only seven sites are reservable of the 44 in the park and with the reservation fee at $12 it costs almost as much as $14 camp site.

White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument

About 16 miles to the north is Alamogordo. A town that exists largely to support the nearby Holloman Air Force Base. There you can probably find pretty much anything you need. The fact Walmart has opened a store in town is an indication of significant surrounding population.

Oliver Lee Memorial Park Campground is in the desert. Winter is the bay season I take it. It gets real hot in the summer. It can also be cold. It was near 30º last night, in mid January.

Free guided tours of the nearby Oliver Lee residence are available via a ranger in the park office.

I chose to stay here for a few days on my way from Texas to Quartzsite, AZ because, as I wrote above it was near White Sands, plus it had hookups and I really like electricity when it’s cold out. There aren’t a lot of camping options in these parts and I had friends camping here–two more reasons I chose to camp here.

Oliver Lee General Store
Oliver Lee General Store is just outside Oliver Lee Memorial Campground. It’s very rustic and picturesque. I can’t advise you on what they carry in stock as I didn’t go inside.

Views of the nearby mountains are nice. A hiking trail or two lead out of the campground up into them. On the other side there are views of the flats. The campground is quiet. Highway 54 is about 4 miles away and is the nearest road of which I’m aware that carries any real traffic.

8 thoughts on “Oliver Lee Memorial Campground, Alamogordo, NM”

  1. Love the photo from the ‘off limits’ area. Wish we had spent more time at White Sands but the winds were brutal during most of our stay at Oliver Lee.

  2. Love the photo of White Sands “off limits” –breathtaking! I’d love to enlarge that photo and hang it up in my house! How fun to meet up with friends while traveling.Happy trails and Happy footprints in beautiful places,& adventures. Erika

    1. It is fun to meet up with friends on the road especially since it has not been all that common. I suppose it’s likely to happen more and more the longer I’m out here and the more friends I make.

      I met Tim and Issy back in Little Rock. Out travel trajectories have been similar and I’ve seen them about a half a dozen times since we first met a few months ago.

      If you decide you really would like a White Sands enlargement let me know. It’s not too difficult to arrange for that in today’s online world. Of course there would be costs to arrange it all.

  3. As you come into town from the south, there is a good Chinese buffet on the west side of the road next to Dennys. If you go up to tenth street and turn towards the mountains you will find grocery stores.

    DW and I are planning on a weekend here sometime this spring, just to get out of town.

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