James Canyon Campground is the perfect stop for anyone passing through and needing a place to stay.
Located just a couple miles outside of Mayhill, NM inside the Lincoln National Forest, this primitive camping spot is directly off of US 82 and has a 5 spots total. Two of which have parking at the site and three that are across a small footbridge from a small parking lot. Now I say “primitive” but this small campsite has a whole lot to offer! There are vault toilette (no sinks-so bring your hand sanitizer), there is a fire pit with metal rack at every site along with picnic tables. Best of all, there is NO FEE to stay here!
Now I had read that there were only two sites that had parking directly next to the site and since we have had some bad luck with break-ins to our car with walk-in sites, I wanted to make sure we got one. When we arrived however the two sites with parking were already taken. Much to my surprise, the three walk-in sites were directly across from the parking area, so we were able to actually see our car from our site which was a big relief.
Although this site is right next to the highway, it feels very secluded. There are lots of pine trees which is great for hammock campers like us and there are mountains to either side of you which help a lot with keeping the wind out. There is some noise from the road as cars pass, but at night the traffic was very light and didn’t bother us at all. There were no trails accessible from the campsite that I could see and I did walk around a bit to look, so this is more of a stop and go sort of place, which was exactly what we needed after a long day of driving.
This is a first-come first-serve campground. Since it is small, spots fill up fast. We camped on a Saturday night and there was only one site left open by eight o’clock pm.
First let me say, I have always been pretty opposed to freeze-dried meals. I always felt they had no flavor and were not worth eating unless you are backpacking and need to cut down on weight…
Now let me say…I love Mountain House!!! They are completely different from the meals I have tried in the past. They are FULL of flavor, not crunchy (if you follow directions), and so easy after a long day.
On the back of the bag of each meal there are simple instructions. Most bags say to fill with either 2 or 1.5 cups of boiling water, stir, then close pouch and let sit for about 10 minutes. SUPER SIMPLE! Now I made both the Chicken Fried Rice and Noodle & Chicken at the same time for both my husband and I to try. I used a Nalgene to measure the water since I don’t have measuring cups on the fly.
The Noodle & Chicken was by far our favorite. It reminded me a lot of Campbell’s Chicken and Noodle Soup. It was SO good! The chicken was very tender and there was a very good helping of it. I will definitely be purchasing it again. It was a big winner with my husband as well!
The Chicken Fried Rice was also good, but not our favorite. The rice was tender along with the chicken. I really liked how they incorporated the egg that you find in fried rice but I will say that it was missing that soy flavor that usually comes with in your usual Asian cuisine. I also am not a huge fan of mushrooms and it had quite a bit in there. I should have read the ingredients first. Altogether though, still a very satisfying meal.
Best thing about Mountain House…absolutely NO clean up!!! No scrubbing pots in freezing cold water, no plastic wrappers flying away in the wind, No mess!
Now freeze-dried meals can get a bit expensive, at least with Mountain House you are getting the bang for your buck. Once prepared, the pouches are filled with a wonderful, tasty meal filled with lots of protein and calories to keep you going on your adventure.
I can’t wait to try more!
Tried to camp at this one. With all of the directions I saw on the website and everything we didn’t find this exact campground. Although, when the coordinates led (or where google maps took us) was pretty. It was just one little area with a fire pit that seemed to be all on its own. Some cars went by on the road beside us that went further into the forest but we felt we were at the perfect spot. Little traffic and the stars were absolutely beautiful!
Came here on a spontaneous stop on a road trip through NM. Showed up at 2pm on Tuesday and they still had 4 Backcountry camping permits available, $1.50 per person with annual pass.
We were car camping and not prepared for backpacking but the hike in was < 1 mile so it was easy enough to just hike in with bags. Wasn't too hot in late May but was extremely windy.
One of the prettiest sunsets we've ever seen.
We love Royce and the Camp @ Cloudcroft. We started out coming here NYE. We stayed in the teardrop camper — so cold outside but the teardrop was warm and cozy. Since then we’ve been back several times! They have new beautifully renovated shower houses. They have a Yurt with all you could ever think of as well as a pop up trailer (amazing king size bed). When you rent these, you basically can come with clothes and food. They think of everything else from utensils, grills, stoves, linens, seasonings … even a deck of cards! There’s WiFi throughout the campground. They also have RV spaces and tent areas. Super super nice staff (Sissy and her pup Mickey). Can’t recommend this place enough and we can’t wait to get back to our home away from home!!
We (family of 6) spent 4 nights here.
It's not too far from town and cheap ($6 a night per vehicle) It's was always windy, it broke our tent one night, the host seemed to ride by every 20 to 30 mins which made us a little uneasy and like we couldn't relax, the sites are REALLY weird and almost all of them you can't drive up to, you definitely can't have a camper here, there is no water, the vault toilets are pretty smelly and the fire pits are all very full.
The only thing we really enjoyed about our stay was seeing the wild horses 1-2x per day, we even woke to see them in our site one morning!
Very beautiful hidden away RV and Raised Primitive State Park full of marked and unmarked foliage and a nice museum reflecting on the surrounding area of New Mexico. Everything above standards with wonderful staff. Was there with a friend and had an outstanding experience.
Camped for a night because I heard the sand was beautiful. It was but the hiking was sub par there was one trail about 5 miles that was fun because of the sand but just doesn’t have much challenge and no summit type view. Beautiful plants, little animals and sand.
Staying at this park. Very comfortable, great views, beautiful hike from the park and great people. We only plan to stay one day but ended up staying a couple because it was so nice. Close to Alamogordo so easy to get supplies or go out to do things. The space museum is nearby which was very fun. Would definitely go back again.
I stayed here 6 nights in Feb of 2019 so I could catch sunrise/sunset at White Sands. You are on a military base but signage says your welcome. Boondocking. I was in a campervan. I have to say that there's enough room for 20 campers and RVs however, the big RVs make a point of taking up way more space than they need. After my 2nd night there it became apparent that it was to push smaller rigs into the less desirable areas away from the lake. One guy with a micro teardrop pushed in between where there was ample room and all hell broke loose.
We did the backcountry hike and the spots are nice and secluded, while not too too far from the parking. It was summer so it was super hot until sundown, but the night sky is one of the prettiest I've ever seen. We also had some fun sledding down the dunes (as evidenced in the video)!
In direct contrast to the White Sands backcountry camping which offers absolutely zero thrills and access to luxuries, the White Sand KOA is a great place to stay for those wanting some of the comforts of home. Located about 10 minutes from White Sands this campground is in a great location for a run to the store, a meal at one of the great local restaurants or a trip to some of the other area attractions.
While visiting here I noticed there were plenty of options for RV campers, something lacking at the White Sands itself. But RV camping is not all created equal, and this one by far surpasses other area options. Sites were latge enough even for the largest of rigs but also offered smaller sites for someone traveling a bit lighter like myself.
Tent row seemed to be a very popular options and while the sites here were a bit closer together there was still plenty of room to move around.
The hosts were extremely friendly and welcoming. The restrooms were private and very well throught creating a feeling of being at home while on the road. There was even a small store located on property with goodies and merchandise to commemorate your trip to the area.
This place really has the family in mind with a pool, playground and game room which will leave a smile on the faces of even the smallest guests.
- Go check out the New Mexico Space Museum where you can find the first primate launched into space's memorial, some awesome space rockets and tons of information that will leave your head in space.
- Take a trip out to the White Sands only a short 10 minute drive from camp and spend the day sledding down the cool white dunes.
I will say a trip here is worth more than one trip! For this reason I found myself back in the midst of the soft white sands in March of this year. Taking a few notes from my last trip I planned a bit smarter for the journey.
Packed a face shield - This is imperative to keep your mouth free of loose winds when the weather quickly decides it wants to kick up a big mess.
Remembered a hat - Being out in the white sands you can quickly forget how damaging the sun can be. The sand remains cool and though you are in the midst of all the reflections of light and and you often can forget that your head is unprotected. I made sure to bring a cap to wear for the extended stay of anything over 20 minutes.
Used a shade shelter/sand shelter - When camping sure you remember this, but when playing you should also have it on hand. Many come out recreationally and find themselves into midst of a harsh wind storm which can create white out sand conditions. This can be scary, dangerous and overall just very frantic. Winds often will reach these conditions making it impossible to drive or hike, so a quick shade shelter/ sand shelter is the way to go for protection.
Lots of water -Over the past few years I have learned more and more how continually improve my campaign experience at various locations. With no two locations being the same it can be a learning curve to say the least. Because of the location I improved my packing for this trip adding additional water to my gear. While you might not realize your body is in need, all the trudging around in the dunes can quickly dehydrate you without you realizing it.
Checked the weather- While you can't predict the sand you can get a good handle on when it for sure will not be manageable. Usually in Alamogordo the news will share if there is a wind advisory. If you ever see one of these, just DON'T try to get out on the sands. From the first trip here to the second I will say there is a massive difference between a gentle breeze and a lightly windy day. Now just imagine straight line winds… NOPE!!
Checklist aside, the White Sands is a place you need to remember to educate yourself about before taking on one of the backcountry sites. I advise visiting the visitor center and taking in the entire experience to emerge yourself in the surroundings, the why, the what and the how. Then make sure you talk to a ranger before attempting any kind of camping in this location. Unlike a mountain camp or even a regular desert camp, this location comes with its own unique set of rules that you will want to be aware of.
Probably the nicest state camp group designed with full RV sites I’ve seen. We have just a pop up so mix it up between hook ups and primitive spots when we are traveling. The is a heavily occupied camp group with some reserved sites and some one night FCFS sites. End of April every site was full. Nice shower facilities, but u like KOA there are natural and manmade barriers very strategically placed. Good jumping off point to Lincoln forest day hikes and white sands area. Really beautifully landscaped. Our site backed up right to the mountains. Gorgeous at dusk/dawn.
This is an awe inspiring and unique camping experience. It is not a place to relax all day, make a fire, and hang out camping experience. White Sands IS a place to experience at night, preferably during a full moon.
There are 10 spots and the office opens at 9:00, be EARLY (I always get there an hour before).
Once you get your spot do some local stuff, Alamogordo is 20 minutes to the east, not great but you can also head up to Cloudcroft which is nice and has great hiking. Or you can go to Los Cruces which is nicer and bigger and also has some hiking in the Organ MNTs.
Head back to camp 2 hours before sundown. You’ll have to hike about a mile in sand to your campsite. Set up and prepare to enjoy the night!
I’m usually set up an hour before sunset and then stay up till midnight or so. It’s amazing and no words or pictures can really do it justice (at night especially). In the morning it gets hot pretty quick so be prepared to leave early.
Enjoy, I’ve hit this every 6 months, three times in a row and it never gets old!
Awesome hill/mountain side campsites, close to the lakes and creeks. Look out for wild turkeys, deer, elk, bears, and even wild horses! Drive up the mountain to SkiApache, there are awesome overlooks on the drive. We went in the summer, but rode the gondolas to the top of the mountain, then hiked to the summit where you could see the next mountain over which is sacred land to the Apache, you could see an old lava flow, and even another mountain range. The only issue we had was deer flies, but they would loose interest pretty quickly and then your good to go.
While staying at this site I spent most of my time at the petroglyph site down the road playing amongst the igneous rocks. There are over 21,000 petroglyphs to be found. It is a beautiful view of Mt. Blanca and the White Sands in the distance. The hosts are very sweet and full of amazing information. The sites were comfortable and secluded (at least when we were there). It takes a drive to get to but you really feel like you are away for major civilization which is very nice.
There are tent platforms that are a bit small and bathrooms. No showers or additional facilities but there is a general store on the main road to the campground.
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.
This is a must see! It's hard to explain the beauty of White Sands in words, but it's definitely worth the stop and 1-2 mile hike in to a primitive spot. Primitive is the only option here and be sure to check weather patterns for the times you go. I went in early spring and the wind was pretty ferocious - luckily I was prepared and had all the necessary gear. It's a tough hike in depending on your pack and the sites are as bare as it gets, but the scenery makes this place what it is. Beautiful.
The lower fir group camground is a great escape to the mountain camping. Next to a not so busy 2 lane road. You can go higher into the woods to get away from the road if no one is out there. The proximity to the road is the only reason I marked it a 4. It's a beautiful area you can be with a large group of friends without being bothered by anyone. This site is usually vacant, at least on the two times I've been up there. Beautiful weather in mid spring to late summer outside of the local monsoon season. If going during monsoon season be prepared to get wet and muddy as the rain usually picks up around noon and ends in the late evening. They did have a restroom towards the entrance of the site. Site is very close to Cloudcroft if you need anything on short notice. They did have some fire rings as well.
They're a few areas that have a camp site established there but we chose to hike off into the trees and find our own spot. There are plenty of trails and campsites in the trees. Not a super popular area so they aren't too many people to fight over campsites with. They're are bathrooms there near the parking lot. They could be a little better but are just fine. Great place to cool down when coming from the basin and the 95+ degree days in the summer. Does get snow in the winter months and will drop below freezing. Beautiful pine trees surround the area. May run into deer or elk while out there.
Great little campground at the base of the mountains. Provides great opportunity to hike and learn about some history in the area. Initial part of the hike is pretty strenuous but it becomes easier after about .7 miles. Campground has hookups for RVs and plenty of flat lots for tents. I believe the fee for the state park was 5 dollars per night. This camp ground is far enough off the high way you don't get any vehicle noise. Only vehicles you'll hear are people coming and going from the campground or hiking trails.
I’ve been going for years on end. The best times are when the creeks are running.. they can get decently deep and are great fun. It’s a little of the beaten path and the spots are no more than open areas.. it gets busy during the holiday times. But it’s just a few minutes to the lakes. The road is barely able to fit two vehicles so there are times you have to make a close pass due to the ledges. Over all beautiful campground.. a bit far from any stores so come prepared.
Lakes are fun, they stock regularly and it’s a nice time.
I have seen mostly upper New Mexico and well when I found this area in comparison that or anything else near El Paso, I was more than a bit confused as to where I was. Yes, it is a forest, but still I wasn't ready for how forest-like and amazing it was.
Driving out you have no cell signal at all. The roads are winding and you see a lot of livestock, then out of no where deer, big deer and elk! It is like a different planet from everything else and the deeper into Cloudcroft you get the more and more it starts looking more like Colorado than anything you would assume would be New Mexico.
The campground is no different! Large shade trees standing tall above the site, the ground below looking like it was cut from a different cloth than anything from all the miles you travel in any direction from this location. The temperatures itself even is different, cooler by about 15 to 20 degrees.
The camp is small and while they have a posting for RVs I don't see how they could easily fit in the spaces I saw. There are minimal amenities such as drinking water and vault toilets but no dump stations or hook ups.
It was very quiet when we were there although there were other campers, the sounds of everything around seemed to muffle any noise they could be making.
Don't plan on contacting anyone, staying here is a truly unplug and unwind experience.
Explore some of the hiking in the area. Lincoln National Forest has nearly 50 trails so there is something for everyone from short day hikes to long treks for backcountry camping and hiking.
Just a few minutes outside of the lovely village of Cloudcroft, this campground offers several sites, all with a bit of variety from the next. We stayed overnight in mid July and really enjoyed the location. This is a great spot to escape the heat of the desert. Be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms & showers in the summer months. Sleepy Grass campground is also nearby in case this one is full. Highly recommend for anyone who enjoys peaceful mountain camping.