Chama is a small town nestled in northern New Mexico most known for the Cumbres & Toltec steam train that travels from there to Colorado. Chama is also an outdoor paradise full of wildlife and beauty. With the nearby Brazos Cliffs and Heron Lake, Chama will become a favorite place for your family to visit.
Northwest of Albuquerque
We spend a lot of time in the summer in Chama and the surrounding area. We first discovered this area when our kids were really small. We had just purchased our first camper and were exploring different areas we could camp outside of the more popular and therefore more congested Jemez Mountains, which we love so much.
There is nothing more relaxing for our family than to pack up on a scorching Friday in Albuquerque in the summer and head up north to the Chama area. The temperature drops as we climb up the Chama Valley and it is divine!
The town of Chama itself is charming and quaint. There is a main street along US84 with some cute shops. The train depot is also located here and makes a fun stop even if you are not scheduled to ride the train. Kids enjoy walking around and checking out the trains parked in the yard. The trains in the yard have been in many movies from Wyatt Erp to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. For more information on the train, please see our Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Sidetrack. There is a relaxed and laid back atmosphere here which makes for nice getaway away from the hustle and bustle of other Rocky Mountain towns. A fun thing to do is drive north along NM 84 as the train departs in the morning. You can get a great view of it crossing the trestle and continuing its climb up the valley to Antonito, CO. You will see other cars parked along the highway and if you time it right, can get beautiful photos of the steam train and wave at the passengers.
There are a number of rivers and streams in the area. The Rio Chama offers some of the best fishing in New Mexico. Nearby Heron Lake and El Vado Lake offer fishing and boating opportunities and have marinas with available rentals. State fishing permits are required for anyone 16 years and older. Please see our Heron Lake Sidetrack for activities and logistics at the lake.
Just a few minutes south of Chama is the Brazos canyon. This beautiful canyon with breathtaking views of the Brazos Cliffs is full of deer and wildlife. Fishing on the Brazos River is an angler’s delight. See our sidetrack on the Brazos Falls for a fun hike here.
There are a few lodging options in the Chama Valley. There are numerous motels in town as well as RV Parks and cabins nearby. There is an RV park just north of town along the Chama River and the train passes by the property’s edge twice daily which is fun to see and hear. There are several privately owned summer homes available to rent in the Brazos as well as in town which is a great way to gather friends and make memories. There is a well stocked Lowes Supermarket in town as well as gas stations to gas up. We believe the Subway in town to be the largest of any Subway restaurants we have ever been to. We also enjoy eating at The Elkhorn Café and enjoy their yummy burgers and breakfasts.