Dog Canyon is located on the north end of Guadalupe Mountains National Park aka the highest point in Texas. Though secluded, Dog Canyon fills up fast so arrive early or plan in advance to claim your spot.
Due to the elevation, this campground is cooler and has more shelter than the Pine Springs campground. Dog Canyon has excellent trail access with options of one-day or shorter day hikes.
- Have a full tank of gas
- Bring your propane stove - fires are not allowed in any of the campgrounds.
When I first saw this one I was a bit hesitant because of the name itself. I, a person petrified of snakes and also familiar that names are often given for a reason, was skeptical to say the least. But I wanted to try something a bit different and check into other camping options near Carlsbad.
This one is one that you will be required to get a permit. That permit is FREE, basically they just want to know you are out there just in case. From permit issuance you are told basic instructions of camping is open as long as you are not directly on the path. You can park in certain area and must pack in your gear, so travel with only what you want to deal with on your pack.
Camping options are pretty vast. The terrain is pretty rocky and sandy but you can really get a feel for the land out here as opposed to the campgrounds near town that are pretty standard.
definitely more of a nature experience than the other camping options I'm aware of in the area. Permits are free and can be obtained at the visitor center. There are not designated sites, you can camp anywhere that's far enough off the trail (rangers will brief you on how far you have to be). Feb was definitely really cold. We were huddling in a shiver bivvy. Will be back for sure but will bring the zero degree sleeping bag next time. The caverns are absolutely amazing and we consider this the best nature camping around.
Rattlesnake canyon- backcountry camping close to Carlsbad caverns- wayyy cooler than the KOA in town or the other camping options I've explored. Permit required but is free- pretty much anywhere far enough off the trail is fair game (obviously check with the ranger for the actual rules). We emerged from the caverns to see a sea of flames coming from the oil fields in what I guess is just south of the park. Gorgeous sunset- seemingly nobody else around though the rangers said there were at least a couple other parties out there. You'll want to bring a heavy duty tarp/ground cloth as many of the otherwise decent tent spots are pretty rocky.
f backcountry hike-in spots aren't your thing, this is a place to crash on your way to/from Carlsbad Caverns (which are EPIC- GO THERE). This place itself- anh. Maybe, technically, this park qualifies as an oasis, but don't get your hopes up too high. The place is not exactly scenic. On first glance it all looks pretty barren, but the water clearly supports a lot of life- tons of birds, rabbits, and plants you won't really see in the surrounding landscape. So there's that. We'll call it very subtle beauty. Ultimately, sunrise/set made it all worth it. After driving around the area for a while, and growing weary of all the depressing drilling operations that overwhelm the sounding area, this place offers some reprieve- like breath of fresh air but for the eyeballs. In short, I guess this place is noteworthy in part because of what it is NOT- another expansive oil field.
Beautifully located in a tranquil setting. Camprgrounds are clean. Very quiet
The campground is “what you see is what you get,” & there’s not very much to see. If you do your research you know to be prepared though, so it shouldn’t be an issue! It is primitive camping, so bring out everything you would need. Guadalupe is such a beautiful National Park & worth visiting so that you can hike the peak (fun fact: it’s higher than El Capitan in Yosemite)! It’s the tallest point in Texas. The trail is not all that strenuous but it does take up a good deal of time (about 6 hours) so you have to make sure you’ve got enough daylight.
It’s a beautiful view at night !!! It’s a little rocky but the fishing and water make up for it, I went with my brother and our families( 2-4yr olds and a 1-yr) all had fun in the water and on the shore. Boats allowed and decent bathrooms/showers
I would recommend staying at this site, I would just bring your own water to drink. watch out for tarantulas also!
This is the best place to be when hiking/touring Guadalupe Mts National Park, especially if you plan to hike Guadalupe Peak (the trailhead is in the parking lot). The sites are nice - some are a short walk-in, some are right next to your parking spot.
We don't RV, but the RV sites were underwhelming - it's just a parking lot with no hookups.
The restrooms were nice and clean, but no showers. This wasn't fun when you're sweaty and stinky from hiking all day. There was also a dish washing station. There's one bathroom with flush toilets, and another at the other end of the campground with vault toilets. The closest hotel, store, and restaurant are all ~30 minutes away in White's City so bring everything you need.
There's no campfires allowed (ever), plus they had a slightly increased burn ban when we were there so we couldn't use camp fuel products but I understand that you normally can use them. Good thing we had a backup butane stove.
It's a very pretty location and is a great campground, especially for being in the middle of nowhere!
Very open campground (not a lot of privacy) with easy access to showers. They have a great little convenience store on site and a little cafe/burger style eatery. Make sure you bring the majority of your supply needs in as the nearest store is about 18 miles into Carlsbad.
When looking for a campground close to Carlsbad Caverns, the most recommended for proximity happens to be that of White's City RV and Campground also known as Carlsbad Campground. Only a short 7 miles from the visitors center and only a few hundred yards from the main entrance, the campsite offers over 200 camping zones for those coming to the area.
We arrived late afternoon to the site and noticed a large quantity of rv campers but very few tents on premise. In fact only a single tent camper was on site at the time of arrival.
We searched for the check in and were a bit baffled as to where to stop as no clear registration was marked. Instead we stopped and asked someone on site in the RV area and they were very welcoming and informative.
For those camping, arrival check ins are at the local gift shop about a block away, the sleepy town closes by 6 p.m. however so if you arrive past this time you are forwarded to a local hotel for check in.
After overcoming the confusion we were finally able to start unpacking. Due to it being early in season, we were able to pick our campsite and settle in without any issues.
Campsites are all equipped with a picnic table and fire ring area and a light shade cover. Water hook ups are on hand and the camp keeps a camping hose accessible to all for extinguishing camp fires at night.
We noticed upon our arrival and throughout the evening a plethora of native Bunnies grazing which made for a pleasant atmosphere of bringing nature to our camp.
The camping facilities were grassy and softer than many other sites we had visited along our journey. A nice shade tree made for a great block to the early morning rays.
Our only areas which we noticed could be improved were in the bathrooms as we noted a lack of recent maintenance and lights needing to be changed to improve brightness in the mirror and sink area. Also the showers were a bit of a question mark for us as they closely resembled indoor beach showers and had no doors.
During our stay we were the only ones using the facilities so we had plenty of privacy, however during busy season this shower could pose an issue for campers. We recommend the buddy system during busy season here so someone can either hold a towel for a make shift door or be a look out for additional guests coming in.
Overall this campground gets 3 of 5 Bunnies, in major part because of the bathroom facilities. However we do also have to consider the confusion with check in. We suggest doing a call reservation with payment to avoid having to check multiple facilities just to check in!
Campers should know that despite being small and “unknown” this campground fills up without warning. The pit toilets are NOT smelly and there is a water source. You will need to hike a short distance in to your tent site but it is totally worth it!
Great Campsite! Great amenities: Spotless restrooms and showers, well stocked store with friendly staff, clean pool, fish pond with seating area, big sites with picnic table and fire ring, on-site restaurant with delicious bbq, wildish rabbits roaming freely. The area is very quiet. My favorite part was the visibility of the stars at night.
Carlsbad Caverns is amazing! Going during bat season is even more incredible, unbelievable almost. Make no mistake about the location, however. As so many KOAs are not in the town that bears their name, this KOA is no exception. It is not in the Carlsbad limits, it is 30 minutes north of Carlsbad and 1+ hour north of Carlsbad Caverns. ( not sure why another reviewer stated it was only 30 minutes away—maybe they were mistaking it for Carlsbad RV Park, which was formerly a KOA(?) no disrespect meant—people should know before they go, google maps will confirm).
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of cram them in RV parks, but there are few options for camping around Carlsbad and they are all RV parks except for the first come first serve campground at Guadalupe National Park which stands a really good chance of being full before I could ever roll in. This KOA has all the amenities including a pool, clean showers, store, laundry, and hot meals—if you can order hours in advance. The RV sites are spacious for being an RV Park, but by no means “spacious”. They had excellent and easy pull through options and many cabins. The cabins were pricey, but cross between the camping/hotel ease of lodging; of course, visitors bring their own sleeping bags and linens.
We found the staff was neither overly friendly nor rude. It did seem to take a very long time to process anything, however, because anytime we went into the store/check-in, we had to wait, awhile (20+ minutes). While this held true for the weekend we were there, maybe it isn’t typical? Overall, it’s a place to hang one’s hat and enjoy a campfire under the night sky. It’s also a good middle ground between Carlsbad and the Roswell area attractions if that is the goal. If the only plans are to see the national parks (Carlsbad and Guadalupe), I’d recommend considering Carlsbad RV Park—which is right on the southern edge of Carlsbad. While in town, consider checking out Fiesta Drive In Theater. It’s one of the few remaining drive-in movie theaters.
Let's start with the fact that there are few actually camping areas close to Carlsbad Caverns or Guadalupe National Park. Assuming travelers are coming to Carlsbad to see these great places, the location becomes a major player. Fine print: there is a small campground (absolutely no amenity campground) in Guadalupe National Park which is first-come, first-serve (aka: full), and there a campground in White's City--although having driven past it, I don't think I want to stay there.
Carlsbad RV Park is primarily an RV Park. In fact, while we were there, they were bulldozing their only tent sites and I'm not sure if they are upgrading them or replacing them with more RV sites. So the "tent" site status is tentative. As with most RV Parks, the RVs are crammed in, side by side, and really the place is like an RV parking lot with amenities and hook-ups--but they do appear to be mostly pull through and the staff will show the way to go to pull through without hiccups. These are not spacious by any means. We stayed in one of two cabins, which were very reasonably priced, esp. when comparing to Carlsbad KOA. They even came with a cable and a fridge.
The RV Park (like all of the RV Parks in Carlsbad) has overall become a residence for the oil field workers, so be prepared to try and sleep through the 4 a.m. traffic rush out of camp to oil field. However, the neighbors are pleasant and quiet to have, even if they must drive away before the roosters announce the coming of the sun.
The park has gated access and we felt very safe during our stay. There is a playground that was being bulldozed with the tent site; I am unsure if it is being upgraded or eliminated. There is a camp store, a pool, a game room, showers (which were ok), laundry, a dishwashing sink, picnic tables at the cabins, and universal fire pit. Please note that I am inherently biased against parking lot style RV parks--so 2 stars from me for an RV Park is quite a compliment.
Carlsbad RV Park and Carlsbad KOA direct comparison: we have stayed at both the Carlsbad KOA and the Carlsbad RV Park. The KOA is NOT actually in Carlsbad, and is over an hour away from Carlsbad Caverns and 30 minutes from town. On the other hand, the RV Park is at the southern end of town and only 30 minutes to the Caverns. While the KOA lots are more spacious, they offer no more and no fewer amenities than the RV Park…well the KOA sort-of offers meals but the RV Park is right in town, so delivery is an option. The basic, no frill KOA cabins cost double the RV Park charges. Additionally, the KOA staff was not as friendly or as helpful as the RV Park staff, imho.
While in Carlsbad check out Fiesta Drive-In for one of America's few remaining drive-in movie theaters.
Crowded, charming, typical KOA. Located about 30 minutes from Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Quaint store, great play room (super nice staff- left the playroom open for us an additional hour due to downpour!) Accommodated our family as our reservation was deleted and we had nowhere else to go! :) Great clean restrooms and showers.
Small but peaceful
This is a great campground for tents & hammocks. If you are in an RV is it parking lot camping only. There is a working restroom (no showers) as well as a washing station for dishes. It is in the perfect spot for many of the main trails in the park. We visited in July. The nights were nice, however, from 11am-6pm it is best to find shade or something to do (we drove around and explored the area).
Closest gas station is in Dell City (about a 30 minute drive) that is also the closest place to get food or ice, so just be prepared! I have more pictures and information here on my blog.
If you're a tent camper, this is a gorgeous campground. Again indivdual walk-in sites, gorgeous views and amazing hiking opportunities.
Bathrooms were clean.
RV "camping" is more a paved parking lot where they allow you to stay over night. Is also shared with trailhead parking. There are a couple of nice single sites along the edge, luckily we were able to snatch one of these.
The hike up has great views, then you drop down in a valley for the camp sites. They supply tent pads only. We were disappointed in the lack of view and the cold settled in fast. This would be a great site for the summer due to the tree coverage or on windy nights since you’re protected.
Visiting Guadalupe national park was very surprising, after finding out that no reservations are required to camp I was a little worried that the location was going to packed but going in the middle of February it was just right. The tent camping side has a total of 19 tent sites which have benches as well as a prepared area for your tent which was nice the site had a bathroom nearby and trash cans very close to every site. The rv side had multiple spots for rvs (didn't count the spaces) but outside of the parking lot were flush toilets and a dish washing station, the trail heads were right by the parking lot so very convenient.
The trail the main trail guadalupe peak was breath taking (literally) the climb up takes about a 2 and half hours but the view up top is amazing! My only complaint of this place is that the amount of trails is lacking (only about 5) and after a day or two your pretty much done but if your in the are the hike up top is unbeatable.
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This is a beautiful park with stellar camping. It is close to all the things you’ll want to do in the National Park. You are nestled among the famous cliffs and mountains of the area surrounded by interesting plants and wildlife. There are separate loops for tents and RVs with the full amenities of a state park…thankfully including water.
Yay: this is a hot and sticky area and although there are no showers the bathrooms have full water, allowing you take a washcloth bath. Sites are spread out well for good privacy.
Nay: not too much shade, but not awful for TX.
Surprise: lots of hikes leave right from the campground, simplifying the day a little! As always the rangers are great. Incredible sunsets.