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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Nice quiet FREE place to stay the night even though there were quite a few campers. Camping is in the parking lot area and basically any pull off you can find a space. If you’re in a tent just hike off anywhere and pitch it for the night. There are no trail markers so just be aware while exploring the very cool formations. Off hwy 371, at the T in the road turn left (Google maps said to turn right just FYI) continue down to parking lot or along the road.
There are pit toilets, no water or garbage. I was able to get AT&T and Verizon cell reception.
US550 and Cabazon Rd. The first 4 miles off US550 is BIA land, you must keep going to get to BLM land. I saw about a half dozen locations to camp. Dirt road all the way and some rough spots along the way. I took a 34 ft 5th wheel in but if you dont feel confident with your ability you may pass. I went in about 9-10 miles off highway and camped about 2/10ths of a mile from a parking lot for a walking trail. Very peacefull and great night stars. There are a couple of hiking trails nearby and even a mountain bike trail. I had 3 to 4 bars of Verizon cell service.
This is a quiet area tucked away in Lincoln National Forest. It's not too far from Cloudcroft, NM so it's easy to resupply on water, snack, etc. You can camp right next to a creek and the valley makes for some great views. This area is basically everything you can ask for when dispersed camping. It's quiet and other than the occasional hiker, nobody else is around. There's plenty of hiking and just good times to be had. A quintessential camping experience.
A vehicle with off-road capabilities is recommended if you want to reach this campground. While not impossible with a regular sedan, it does take navigating up some unpaved switchbacks. The campsites here are undeveloped but there are picnic tables. Also most of the sites are on some sort of slope. The area is surprisingly busy and the parking lot often becomes pretty crowded, but not full, by morning. The lake offers a good view and there is some hiking nearby. A good spot if you want some more dispersed style camping near a lake.