Farmington, New Mexico, wasn’t always an outdoor mecca. Sure, the farming industry — particularly apple orchards — that gave the city its name and was the first economic driver generally happens outside, but that didn’t put Farmington at the top of many visitors’ bucket lists when it came to outdoor recreation.
But that’s changing. Farmington is moving away from the oil and gas industry that provided its latest economic boom. Now, the city is embracing the natural beauty surrounding it and attracting more visitors to put Farmington on solid economic footing well into the future.
Here are some fun outdoor activities for you to try when you’re looking for things to do in Farmington.
Explore the Riverside Nature Center
Located in the heart of Farmington, the Riverside Nature Center is a sanctuary for all nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. With over 100 species of migrating birds and a variety of wildlife like deer, bats, and foxes calling it home, it’s no wonder that bird watchers and nature enthusiasts flock here.
But the Riverside Nature Center is more than just a wildlife spotting zone. It also offers a range of educational programs and scenic trails for visitors to enjoy.
Animas River Trails
Winding along the Animas River, the Animas River Trails offer a peaceful retreat. As you stroll or cycle along the trails, you’ll be treated to picturesque views of the river, local flora, and diverse wildlife. The trails also pass by several local attractions and landmarks, including Berg Park and All Veteran’s Memorial Park, adding an enriching historical element to your leisurely walk or bike ride. And the best part? The trails are open 24/7, making them perfect for both early-morning bird watchers and late-night stargazers.
The Riverside Nature Center aims to enlighten visitors about local plant and animal species, thereby making it an ideal location for people of all ages. The center offers a variety of educational programs tailored to different age groups, including:
- Nature and gardening programs that run all year round
- Programs that cover important conservation topics, such as the role of pollinators and the need for water conservation
- Immersive experiences that will spark your love for nature
Fishing and Relaxation at San Juan River
If a day of relaxation by the water is what you’re after, the San Juan River should be your destination. Renowned as one of the best spots for freshwater fishing worldwide, the river offers a tranquil setting for both fishing and relaxation.
Not only does the river boast a wide variety of fish, but it also has a designated Quality Waters section that is home to some of the biggest trout you’ll ever find.
San Juan River Quality Waters
Located in San Juan County, just below the Navajo Dam, the Quality Waters section of the San Juan River is a paradise for anglers. This four-mile stretch of the river is teeming with rainbow trout, cutbow trout, and brown trout, providing excellent fishing opportunities all year round.
One of the best things about this section of the river is the catch and release policy, ensuring the sustainability of the fish population for future generations to enjoy.
Outdoor Fun at Lake Farmington
Another must-visit spot for outdoor enthusiasts is Lake Farmington. Offering a variety of recreational activities, this lake is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Boating and Swimming
Lake Farmington provides a refreshing escape from the desert heat, with its clean waters inviting visitors to take a dip or enjoy a leisurely boat ride. Whether you bring your own boat or rent one while you’re here, you’re guaranteed to have a fun-filled day on the water.
And for those who prefer to relax by the water, The Beach at Lake Farmington offers a perfect setting for swimming and sunbathing.
Hiking and Biking
But the fun at Lake Farmington doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. The area surrounding the lake boasts several hiking and biking trails that cater to all skill levels. Whether you’re up for a leisurely stroll or a challenging bike ride, these trails offer a wonderful way to explore the local flora and fauna and enjoy the scenic beauty of Farmington.
And remember, safety first! Make sure to follow the trail rules and guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
Lions Wilderness Park Disc Golf
If you prefer your activity level somewhere in between the tranquility of fishing and the exhilaration of off-roading, you may want to check out the Lions Wilderness Disc Golf course. It combines walking and hiking through the scenic course with a little friendly competition.
If disc golf isn’t for you, Lions Wilderness is another great spot for hiking and biking. In fact, the annual Road Apple Rally mountain bike race starts from Lions Wilderness.
Outdoor Adventures at Dunes Vehicle Recreation Area and Glade Run Recreation Area
If you prefer your outdoor activities mixed with a bit of octane, Farmington has you covered there, too. The area boasts remarkable off-roading experiences at two distinct locations: the Dunes Vehicle Recreation Area and the Glade Run Recreation Area.
Dunes Vehicle Recreation Area:
This area is a haven for off-roading thrill-seekers. The Dunes Vehicle Recreation Area, known for its expansive sandy landscapes, offers a unique environment for various off-road vehicles. It’s a perfect spot for those who love the challenge of maneuvering through dunes and sandy terrains. Whether you’re a seasoned off-roader or just starting out, this area’s diverse and shifting sands promise an adrenaline-fueled adventure.
Chokecherry Canyon Glade Run Recreation Area:
Encompassing over 19,000 acres of public land, Glade Run is a versatile playground for off-road enthusiasts. It’s not just limited to motorized trail biking, ATV, and UTV trails; the area also welcomes horseback riders and mountain bikers. The terrain here is incredibly varied, offering everything from rugged mountain trails to slick rock formations. Glade Run caters to a wide range of skill levels and preferences, ensuring that every visitor experiences the thrill of outdoor adventure.
Brown Springs OHV Area:
Nestled within Glade Run Recreation Area, Brown Springs OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) Area stands out as a special zone designed for beginners. Recognizing the importance of safe and responsible off-roading, Brown Springs offers courses focused on off-roading best practices. These beginner courses are an excellent opportunity for newcomers to learn the basics of navigating off-road terrains. The area provides a controlled environment where beginners can build their skills and confidence before tackling more challenging terrains.
Four Corners 4×4 Week
Each of these areas contributes to Farmington’s reputation as an off-road paradise, which is celebrated every year during Four Corners 4×4 Week. Popular events during the first week of September include the Fall Crawl, the World Extreme Rock Crawling Nationals, and the Downtown 4×4 Takeover, which includes a swap meet and judged car and truck show.
Whether you prefer your nature experiences to be tranquil or you enjoy raising your heart rate, there are quite a few outdoor things to do in Farmington, New Mexico.