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Illustrious Places to Stargaze in Raton

by Azariah Blaubach

Lake Maloya (Photo by Paul McClure), Johnson Mesa Church (Photo by James Dingwall), and Capulin Volcano (Photo by NPS)

Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon

About 9 miles NE of Raton. follow NM 72 east for 3.5 miles, and go north on NM 526 for about two to four miles to the park entrance. Lake Maloya is a 130-acre lake located on the border of New Mexico and Colorado in Sugarite Canyon State Park. Sugarite Canyon has many outdoor recreational amenities like campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, and loading docks for fishing. At night, the stars reflect brightly off the calm waters surrounded by the peaceful sounds of nature and wildlife.

Saint John’s Methodist Episcopal Church

Located about 17.5 miles from downtown Raton going East on Highway 72 a top Johnson Mesa, one of Raton’s most notable geological landmarks on its skyline.

This could be the place you just might see your first shooting star, or if you're extra lucky, a UFO, which many locals claim to be an alien hotspot. When you arrive at the little church built in 1897, there’s no light pollution from the city below, but only all the stars you could have never imagined, including a clear view of the Milky Way Galaxy. The church doors are almost always open, and you’re free to enter and sign your name in the guestbook. There is a tuned piano for playing, as well. By all means, respect the church so everyone can experience this lovely place.

Capulin Volcano National Monument

Capulin is an inactive volcano where you can walk or hike the one-mile rim. The International Dark Sky Association named Capulin a gold-tier Dark Sky Park in 2016. Giant telescopes are provided for nighttime stargazing events, and you can see planets, stars, and even galaxies. Watching meteor showers in the back of a pickup, is one of the best date ideas around. To get to the volcano from Raton, follow US-64 east on Clayton Road toward Clayton, New Mexico for approximately 30 miles to the village of Capulin. Turn left on NM-325 and head north for approximately three miles; the park entrance will be on the right.

Check out the Capulin Stargazing Events happening for 2022.

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