Chama New Mexico Outdoor Summer Activities

Chama, NM – a community nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Northern New Mexico has been a hidden gem for so many. If you don’t live or hunt in the area, chances are you don’t know what outdoor adventures you are missing out on in the summer for the whole family to enjoy. Find out here what Chama, New Mexico’s outdoor summer activities are all about. I think you’ll be surprised at what there is to do in and around this small town in New Mexico.

Chama New Mexico Outdoor Summer Activities
Heron Lake. Photo Credit: Cynthia Whitmore


Chama, New Mexico, and its outdoor summer activities are things to check out. No skill levels are required!

Just north of Santa Fe, a little over an hour’s drive, is the enduring mountain village of Chama, NM. It’s an excellent place for outdoor enthusiasts to spend time fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and enjoying nature, especially in the summer. It seems Chama’s summer season runs a long time –from the middle of May to October. When winter hits, it can be downright miserable f you’re not fond of the snow and cold weather, and so for that reason, many summer activities are not available.

Outdoor Summer Activities In Chama

If it weren’t for a customer of my husband’s, we wouldn’t have known about the Village of Chama. As of date, we have been to their place at least five times. I’d say the best time to visit is in the summer if you enjoy nice weather and natural beauty. We have done several summer activities in Chama over the past four or five years, including attending a quaint outdoor wedding in May. I remember it snowed the day before we arrived, but the next day, it was nice, and the wedding day turned out warm and perfect. The bride was beautiful, and the sounds of the nearby Chama River made her day so special. The month of May can be a bit chilly, and you may see snow on the ground, as we did. Summer activities in Chama are just getting started in May.

Besides the famous Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, which Chama is known for, there are plenty of other outdoor fun things to do in the summer.

We went on a morning horseback ride in Chama on a nice sunny summer day, then drove up into Colorado about 45 minutes out and played in the snow. Just crazy for this Texan!

Chama New Mexico Outdoor Summer Activities

Exploring the mountains and trails wherever you’re staying doesn’t cost a penny. We love making words from sticks and rocks we find in nature….something else that is fun and doesn’t cost anything. Best things in life are free, aren’t they?

Wildlife In Chama

While hiking on our friend’s ranch, we saw mule deer tracks, fox tracks, elk tracks, black bear tracks…and a fox!

Bear Tracks spotted on Fishtail Ranch in Chama NM

We were told there are three foxes native to New Mexico – the Red Fox, the Swift Fox, and the Kit Fox. I was in heaven seeing this Kit Fox.

Kit Fox spotted in Chama New Mexico

Horseback Riding In Chama

Edward Sargent Wildlife Area has incredible wildlife viewing and great hiking trails, and if you have a horse, bring it! Hike, camp, horseback! The area is wide-opened and beautiful.

Chama New Mexico Outdoor Summer Activities

Area Lakes For Fishing In Chama

Photo Credit: Cynthia Whitmore

Heron Lake State Park

It is excellent for sailboats and all types of paddle craft. The Visitor Center has more information. You can speak with park rangers and pick up maps to the hiking trails or primitive campsites. Check out things to do at Heron Lake State Park. Chama, New Mexico, outdoor at its best!!

El Vado Lake State Park

A 5.5-mile scenic trail along the Rio Chama. Quiet coves around this lake are great places to catch trout and Kokanee salmon. Birdwatchers can enjoy seeing bald eagles and osprey. Find out the things to do at El Vado Lake State Park.

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Roalroad

Photo Credit: Cynthia Whitmore


Owned and operated by two states – New Mexico and Colorado, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the highest and longest steam-powered, authentic, narrow-gauge railroad in the United States. The passenger railroad travels over its historic road grade from Chama, New Mexico, to Antonito, Colorado. Seasons operate from the end of May through mid-October.

You can see our trip two years ago (lots of beautiful photos) – Our Adventure Aboard Cumbres & Toltec Railroad.

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad made this list >>> 7 Most Popular Scenic Train Rides in the USA.

Chama Valley Farmers Market

From May to October, on Fridays from 3-6 pm, this fairly new market comes together with vendors of all kinds to sell their fresh vegetables and wares. They are located at 2693 US – 64.

Where To Stay In Chama, NM

Whether looking for RV parks, cabins on the river, hotels, or an Airbnb, you’ll find all types of places to stay.

Check out The Chama Hotel and Shops – a historic mountain hotel with historic rooms upgraded with modern amenities. They have a gift shop and food, including ten flavors of ice cream, delicate pastries, soups, sandwiches, and entrées.

Fun Day Trips Near Chama

Your Chama, New Mexico, Outdoor Summer Activities can also include these fun day trips.

Ninety miles from Chama, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa will be there. You’ll take a scenic drive on Hwy 64 through the Carson National Forest and along the Upper Rio Grande River to get there. Look for a couple of wineries along the way. The spa welcomes day visitors to enjoy their hot springs and pools.

Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center welcomes day visitors, overnight campers, and extended stays. Explore hiking trails and other seasonal outdoor activities. Be sure to view Echo Amphitheater, which is on your way.

Visit the nearby Lavender Farm – Purple Adobe Lavender Farm. There’s a nice gift store on the property where the owner sells her fresh lavender and homemade bath & body products and gift items.

Explore the nearby national forests – Carson National Forest and Rio Grande National Forest. Both offer scenic, rugged hiking, fishing during summer months, and elk hunting, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling in the winter season.

And, if these activities aren’t enough, Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is about an hour north and is worth a day trip.

The Rocky Mountains of New Mexico are the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. I can’t wait to go back!

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