the dyrt
THE BEST CAMPING IN
New Mexico
406 Reviews 483 Campgrounds

From the vast Chihuahuan Desert to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico has a wealth of opportunities to get outside and explore. For outdoor adventurers, there’s skiing in Taos, whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande, and plenty of hiking, from the Southern Rockies to dusty desert canyons. That’s what makes camping in New Mexico such a varied and fulfilling experience.

Carlsbad Caverns provides ample opportunities to hike, explore, learn about desert wildlife, even appreciate a few thousand Mexican free-tail bats take flight. They swarm out of the cave every night at dust for an audience that often numbers in the hundreds. It’s a perfect excuse to stick around the park after dark and do some camping in New Mexico.

Of course, the only camping available within Carlsbad Caverns National Park is backcountry camping, so come prepared to Leave No Trace. Keep in mind that the desert landscape is often dry, so fire bans, even some backcountry cooking bans, are frequently in effect in the drier months. On the upside, backcountry camping permits are free and you can grab one at the visitor center when you arrive.

Visit White Sands National Monument for an unmatched, natural experience. Acres upon acres of white gypsum dunes stretch into the distance, offering hours of diversion, be it hiking across the dunes or sledding down them. If you forgot your sled, don’t worry, you can pick one up in the gift shop. Just be sure to enjoy these activities early in the morning or late in the evening during the summer months; it gets hot in the desert during midday!

As for camping in White Sands, it’s backcountry camping or nothing and sites require a short hike through the dunes. You’ll be camping on the gypsum, surrounded by shifting white hills, dark night skies up above, and no other campers in sight. It’s definitely a unique experience. Permits are $3.00 per person and can be picked up at the visitor center.

Wherever your adventures take you in the Land of Enchantment, get out there and let The Dyrt help you locate the best camping in New Mexico.

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Recent Reviews in New Mexico
Nice

It was a nice place.

OK for a stop over

Spent one night at Las Cruces KOA. This place is on the side of a mountain, but they did a good job of leveling spaces. Like most KOAs, this place loves gravel, and placing sites close together. But, the shower house was clean and there was plenty of hot water. They had a nice dog park for exercising our travel companions. The office guy was very friendly and helpful with directions.

Mid October

Amazing little gem located half an hour from White Sands. Recommend reservations if looking for electric sites. Plenty to do and see. Close drive into town for just about anything you could need but far enough to get the high desert. Clean bathrooms and showers. We only used electric site. Used the air conditioner for the hot mid days and heat in the early mornings. One evening we could hear what we think to be artillery explosions from the White Sands missile range by the Air Force Base. Nothing alarming if you have heard artillery before. Short lived and did not interrupt our experience.

Quiet, Inexpensive, & Warm in December!

This very popular state park, on the edge of the Elephant Butte reservoir, is a great wintertime get away. We spent the winter solstice here and woke up at sunrise to see the moon setting in the west and the sun rising in the east. Spectacular!

The campground offers many reservable spots, as well as first-come, first-served sites. Each site has water, electric, picnic table (with sunshade) and a fire ring. The bathrooms are either vault toilets or full service with showers. There are no trees for privacy, but the sites are nicely spaced apart so you don't feel like you are on top of your neighbors.

Now, we don’t normally get critical of other reviews on this site. But some were very negative about the bathrooms, and we simply cannot understand why. The bathrooms were heated, the toilets were clean, as were the showers. The water was warm! Yes, these showers are the push-button type which only gives you a minute or so of water before you push it again. However, the showers were free with the campsite, which only costs $14 (2018) and is in the desert! Water is a precious resource here, so you can’t get your nose out of joint over decisions made by management to limit water consumption when you’re only paying this little.

During the summer months when the reservoir is up to recreational levels, boating and fishing are the most popular activities. Judging by the size of the boat-launch parking lot, you’re going to have to get up early in the morning to grab a spot. There is a great hiking and mountain biking trail right out of the campground which winds between all the other park roads, picnic areas and amenities on the western side of the lake. The trail is relatively new and in most areas is graveled. However, rainstorms have washed a lot of sand across the trail in areas and it can be pretty soft. Further south along the trail we encountered many more arroyos which upped the challenge. The nice thing is that you can always hop back on the pavement to return to the campground.

The town of Elephant Butte is nearby which offers a few restaurants, a general store, and gas. But just 15 miles south is the larger town of Truth or Consequences (interesting story about the name). This town has everything you might need, grocery, gas, food and other lodging….and hot springs! Check out our blog for more details about the latter.

Low water levels

Great visit, excellent sites.

Aptly Named Campground, Truly Beautiful!

This adorable little campground just 3 miles south of the village of Jemez Springs, NM is situated in the in a wide canyon with expansive views of the mesas to the east and west. Some of the sites have a full shelter over the fire ring and picnic table. Many of the sites can accommodate larger RVs or motorhomes, but do not have water or electricity hook-ups. Potable water is available as well. The vault toilets were very clean, and well maintained. This campground had the best recycling and trash containers we’ve seen in months. We were able to recycle just about everything!

This area is perfect for anyone who loves to do any of the following: hike, bike, climb, snowshoe, ski, view wildlife, fly fish, soak in hot springs, gallery shop, or just hang out at your beautiful campsite. The town is within 30 minutes of Valles Caldera National Preserve and just a few more miles to Bandelier National Monument and Los Alamos Skiing area. The town of Jemez Springs has just a few restaurants, be sure to try Olga's Famous Chile Rellenos at Los Ojos, the quirky and quaint little bar that looks like it came from a movie set.

The campground is open all year round and typically has a camp host. The sites are non-reservable, and are very inexpensive for the beautiful views you get!

Note: Despite how beautiful this place was and how much we enjoyed it, we had a scary incident happen that we reported to both the county sheriff and forest service office. If you want to know more, visit our blog. They told us that they had never had a report like this before, so this could have been a random incident, as we were there when there was no camp host. So, stay alert, especially if you are the only camper in the campground.

Great place to stay for the night near Bosque del Apache

Finding this little park on the banks of the Rio Grande just outside of town in the dark would have been unlikely without the very specific directions given to us at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center. “From the blinking light go east for 0.7 miles and turn left on the dirt road between the canal and the river.” Sure enough, there it is.

This small campground has about 5 sites, with picnic tables, but offers no other services—no water, fire rings or even toilets. But as the directions say, it’s close to town and it’s FREE. So, on a day where we spent most of the afternoon and watched the sunset while in the National Wildlife Refuge, this campsite served us well. We even planned to get up before sunrise to watch the birds take to the sky from their night-time roosting areas, so we weren’t there long.

The wildlife refuge is a birder’s paradise during the late fall and winter. Species of Sand Hill Cranes, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, and a multitude of ducks winter here feeding on grain grown in nearby fields and roosting overnight in the shallow wetlands. The numbers of birds are overwhelming, and awe-inspiring. But when we learned that the Sand Hill Cranes have been making this journey for nearly 10 million years, we were simply blown away.

There are plenty of opportunities for other recreation in the area, road cycling, mountain biking, hiking and motor-sports. As we pulled out of the campground, we noticed a beach buggy cruising by which looked as cool as it was retro – total ‘70s style. There are other free, “dry camps” in the area, BLM land, etc. as well as a few other RV parks offering shorter or longer stays.

Family trip

Great location and very clean. Sunset was great.

Beautiful campground!

We went up here for Memorial Day weekend several years ago and stayed at site #26, without reservations. Great shaded site with water flowing behind it, which made for great sleeping. Campground was full by the afternoon with lots of families but it didn’t seem crowded. Vault toilets were incredibly clean and the whole campground was well-maintained. We hiked a little bit of the Columbine Twining hiking trail - can’t wait to go back to be able to hike more!

Campsites with great views

Many campsites with views of Navajo Lake. Pit toilets in Juniper, real toilets w showers in main Navajo campground. Food at Marina is good and affordable

The smell of oilfields

Nice campground, a little compact. It has several speed bumps which can be hard when pulling. Saw roadrunners, hares, and a large wildcat.

Interesting geography

Plenty of level sites, all within walking distance of the lake. Great wifi! Iffy AT&T service.

Small and quiet

Small campground with no dump site. All the electric/water sites are pull-through and very close to one another. Grass and trees!

Rustic silence

Bathrooms but no showers. No water. Great campground. Beautiful view of rock faces across the canyon

Secluded

The state park boasts several lakes, a mountain bike trail, views, playgrounds in the day use area, and many campsites. There is a RV area at Lea Lake, which is half reserved and half first come. There are tent pads in that area also, showers and flushing toilets are there also. If you are tent camping you are missing out if you stay at lea lake, camp in the primitive areas around the smaller lakes. They are isolated, and have abundant wildlife. Vault toilets are nearby, nasty venomous spiders hide in the vaults but like all unpleasant creatures they dont like the light, so take a flashlight. If you come with pops you should consider footwear for them, the goat heads prevent them from going off road otherwise.

Just a beautiful place

Beautiful drive out, creeks on both sides. Nestled deep in the Pecos Wilderness. Camping overlooks the mountains. Beatty’s trail head is nearby. Made a fire and had electric to charge my phone

Camp out then hike the falls in the morning

We camped the night before having gotten there after dark. Paying was easy. The next day we awoke and hiked the falls. Literally a 2 minute drive down the road from camp.

Excellent close to home campground

The lake is way down but the entire park is well maintained. Campsites are level and clean. Shower house at Lions loop is closed as is the dump station but the rr and dump at the cove area is very close

Great campground with amazing water and mountain views!!

This is a great spacious campground in the Carson National forest near the Questa ranger station. It is one of the bigger sites with quite a few amenities and many options for sites. There are two small lakes and the river running through the campground that make for good fishing. Plus there are a few hiking trails connected to this park which is super convient!

They have vault style restrooms and a few wash stations with potable water. This camp is located between Questa and Red River where you can find groceries or resturants. A great place to camp with a lot to offer and amazing views!!!

Great campground with wonderful water and mountain views!!

This is a great spacious campground in the Carson National forest near the Questa ranger station. It is one of the bigger sites with quite a few amenities and many options for sites. There are two small lakes and the river running through the campground that make for good fishing. Plus there are a few hiking trails connected to this park which is super convient!

They have vault style restrooms and a few wash stations with potable water. This camp is located between Questa and Red River where you can find groceries or resturants. A great place to camp with a lot to offer and amazing views!!!

AMAZING!!!

This campground is by far my favorite of the ones on the Questa side of the Carson National Forest, but be advised it is only a day use campground.

There is an amazing lake you can fish at and some great hiking trails around the back of the lake. There are campsites, but they are not by reservation and are only for day use. There a vault toilets and trash cans.

Be advised there is not a lot of parking, and even in the off season it is a popular place. It is located pretty close the Questa ranger station if you need any information on fishing or surrounding campgrounds!

Make sure you put this spot on your list from some fishing and lazy hammocking!

Smaller campground along road in Carson National Forest.

This is small campground near the Questa Ranger station in the Carson National forest. There are not many amenities and the campground is located right off the side of the road so there is a lot of road noise.It in not my favorite campground because you are not as close to the trailheads as many of the others, but if it is your only option during peak season it would do.

This park is located between Red River and Questa, so if you are in need of groceries or hot food, it is not far down the road. The Questa ranger station down the road has firewood, but not much else.

This campground has valt toilets, fire rings and picnic tables, plus a communal bear bin for food. Steep mountains line one side and the road the opposite, so you will have to either drive or walk the road to get to hiking trails.

Beautiful spot inside Carson National Forest!

I love this campsite. It is definitely one of my favorites on the Questa side of the Carson National forest. The views here are breathtaking and the sound of the river drowns out the noise from the road which is fairly close. The sites are are very nice and spacious with a grill pit and a huge circular fire pit.

The bathrooms are simple vault toilets and there is a small wash station. There are plenty of potable water spots and the rangers here are always helpful.

On one side you have the amazing views of the mountains and the other is just beautiful forest with the river running along side. There are a few trailheads towards the back of the campground with awesome trails. Plus this campground is in between the amazing Red River ski resort and Questa. Red River has some great restaurants including a local brewery that is my personal favorite. They also have a small market, or you could head into Questa or Taos for full size grocery stores.

One of the smaller campgrounds in Carson National Forest

This is a very small campground in the Carson National Forest near the Questa Ranger station. There are very little amenities. There is no potable water or bathrooms, but there are bear bins, picnic tables and small fire rings with a grill grate.

This campground is located right off the side of the road and so are the actual campsites. This makes for quite a bit of noise from the road. If you are planning to stay at the Carson National forest I would advise you look at some of the other sites just down the road. This would be more of like an overflow option.

I loved the place, very comfy and secluded.

Any true camper would adore the place.

Lovely

Gallo Campground is the only campground in Chaco Canyon National Park so reserving ahead of time or getting there earlier in the day depending on the season are very important. The park is very remote so it's a long drive on a potentially very rough road to get in but once you're there the route is well worth the visit.

I visited on a Wednesday night in mid October. The campground had filled up by about 2pm Wednesday and but was full by about 11am on Thursday.

There is currently no potable water at the campground but water is available at the Visitors Center a short drive down the road. There are however flushing toilets and running water in the bathrooms. The campsites each have a picnic table and fire pit. I thought the set up of the tent only area was interesting. There is a parking lot area with sites surrounding it on three sides. The set up allows for privacy between the sites which are nestled in among the rocks and plants as well as ruins!

I wish I had spent more time in Chaco Canyon exploring the sites, hiking, and going on tours. The daily tours and ranger talks provide more insight into the canyon's history than you can get with the self guided booklets.

Pretty Nice, No Water

The Gallo Campground is the only campground in Chaco Canyon National Park so reserving ahead of time or getting there earlier in the day depending on the season are very important. The park is very remote so it's a long drive on a potentially very rough road to get in but once you're there the route is well worth the visit.

I visited on a Wednesday night in mid October. The campground had filled up by about 2pm Wednesday and but was full by about 11am on Thursday.

There is currently no potable water at the campground but water is available at the Visitors Center a short drive down the road. There are however flushing toilets and running water in the bathrooms. The campsites each have a picnic table and fire pit. I thought the set up of the tent only area was interesting. There is a parking lot area with sites surrounding it on three sides. The set up allows for privacy between the sites which are nestled in among the rocks and plants.

I wish I had spent more time in Chaco Canyon exploring the sites, hiking, and going on tours. The daily tours and ranger talks provide more insight into the canyon's history than you can get with the self guided booklets.

Rocky Shorelines And Hard Packed Campsites

I stopped in this camp when taking a brief trip through Fort Sumner on the way back to Texas from Las Vegas. The town of Fort Sumner itself is known for its Billy The Kidd presence and there are many things to do in the area in regard to that which are interesting. But just as much as I wanted to check that out, I wanted to check out another unique spot in New Mexico to stay the night and this campsite seemed to be one of the closest.

I liked this because there were both tent and RV sites, so naturally I felt a bit more at home than I would have it had ben a park which focuses daily on RVs and leaves tents as an after thought.

The lake itself wasn't my favorite lake of New Mexico, though it seemed large everything around it was pretty dry. The banks were more of a gravel than a beach and some of the areas were rocky with larger boulders making it a little more difficult to find a recreational place to just enjoy the water. I definitely needed water shoes to get into or near the water.

I chose a primitive site although they do have some which have connections, my reason for selecting this site was its location which I thought would have a great view of the sunrise and the lake, unfortunately it ended up raining the morning so there was no beautiful sunrise. But for only $8 I couldn't really complain especially since I was able to take advantage of the lake a bit the evening before.

I noticed the lake was typically of any lake with a lot of the activities of the park centering around it, however they also had a few hiking trails, a small visitor center to check out a little light information about the location and outdoor education programs which were mostly held on weekends.

It wasn't really that busy when I was there on the weekday I passed through and camp felt pretty quiet throughout the duration of my stay.

Restrooms located near me were vault style but they did have a bathroom with running water and showers as well, depending on where you elect to stay you will be nearby some kind of accommodations. My site being primitive was really primitive and had no table or fire ring, but I did notice for $10 you could have both just a little distance from where my site was located. I personally didn't need either when staying.

TIPS:

  • Check into the park office for minor supplies, anything bigger you will need to travel Into town where there are numerous stores.

  • When in the area make sure to stop in at the Billy The Kidd Museum and Bosque Redondo Park both are staples of the area and contain a lot of history which will tell the story of New Mexico past in some of the most infamous ways.

Clean, beautifully kept, covered tables with wind breaker wall

Such a nice place. Park ranger is friendly. Showers clean and well kept. Pullmthrymu sites, water views. $14.00 day for full hook ups! Bargain!

Road Trip Route 66

Nice RV Campground along Route 66. Good rates and a lot of amenities