5 Great Locations for Camping in New Mexico - SantaFe.com
Hiking at Grindstone Lake during a camping trip.

An open fire, the great outdoors, and some time with friends and family — there’s nothing quite like a weekend camping trip to relax and connect with nature. In New Mexico, campers have numerous camping possibilities encompassing a wide range of environments and geography.

From hiking, biking, and birdwatching to fishing, climbing, and horseback riding, the state’s camping locations offer a gateway to even more adventurous possibilities. Here’s a look at five great camping spots for that next outing under the stars.

Camping supplies in Ford truck.

Five Great Locations to Camp in New Mexico


1 – Camping at carson National Forest

Head a couple of hours north of Santa Fe for tall pines and plenty of ways to relax. Carson offers 1.5 million acres with elevations rising from 6,000 feet to 13,161 feet at Wheeler Peak, the highest in New Mexico. Hike to the top and check that accomplishment off your list.

Along with plenty of tall trees and mountainous terrain, Carson offers 1,300 miles of trails and 63 campgrounds (including RV hookups). Along with hiking, there’s something for everyone — biking, birding, skiing, fabulous views, and more. The area even boasts prehistoric ruins (Pot Creek Cultural Site), ice caves, and lava flows. Be bear aware but expect plenty of fun.

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2 – explore Lincoln National Forest

Head to the birthplace of Smokey Bear and the area where gunslingers like Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett once hung out in southeastern New Mexico. The Lincoln National Forest is made up of 1.1 million acres in the Capitan, Sacramento, and Guadalupe mountains. Campers will find two wilderness areas among the tall pines and firs that make the forest so special.

The area boasts several picturesque lakes as well, including Grindstone, Alto, and Bonito, all featuring plenty of hiking and fishing (excluding Bonito). The Mescalero Apache Reservation offers even more camping, fishing, hunting, pedal boating, and more. Off-roading is also available in some points along with RV camping and some of the best mountain biking in the state. Live a bit of the Old West when heading to this vast wooded paradise. Learn more about this area on Ruidoso.com.

Ford truck with a camper and people camping while watching football on a big screen on the side of the camper.

3 – camping and more at Heron Lake State Park

Along with great national parks, some of the state’s own park options also impress. Nibble on eggs and bacon with a cup of coffee while watching a beautiful sunrise over Heron Lake in northeastern New Mexico. The background of pines and mountains accents the amazing view.

Look for complete campsites, including RV options, along with kayaking, fishing, swimming, hiking, and more in this perfectly scenic camping oasis. Dip your toes in the lake or creeks — or simply sit back and take in the beauty of Mother Nature.

3 – stargazing in the Gila National Forest Cosmic Campground sign

There are numerous camping areas among the natural wonders of Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico. Stargazers are particularly in luck at Cosmic Campground, designated as the first Dark Sky Sanctuary in the U.S. Forest Service. Gila features 3 million acres of high desert terrain with forested hills, expansive mountains, range land, and even waterfalls.

During the autumn months, the region’s trees burst with color and the cool temperatures of summer make for a great escape. Activities available include hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, swimming, boating, and more. Look for a complete camping experience including RV hookups. Campers have plenty to look forward to in this unique environment.

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5 – Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands

This great camping option has a bit of everything and is located about 15 miles southwest of Albuquerque. The forest spreads out across 1.9 million acres with elevations reaching more than 11,000 feet. Cibola offers a wide range of natural environments with four wilderness areas and four national grasslands. ​ 

You’ll have numerous activities to take part in or campers can just sit back and bask in the brilliant views and natural surroundings. Hit the trail for some hiking and biking, or enjoy some fishing, hunting, horseback riding, boating, skiing, and more.  Campers have numerous options including complete RV hookups. The Land of Enchantment certainly lives up to the name in Cibola.

Find great places for off-roading here.

A Ford truck parked near a lake where there is a tent set up.



This story sponsored by CAPITOL FORD


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This article was posted by Alba Burch

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