30 Best Places to Go Camping in New Mexico

New Mexico is home to some of the best camping in the United States, bar none.

With diverse terrain (including mountains, desert, caves, canyons, sand dunes, and more), an abundance of wildlife, and unimaginably clear views of the Milky Way at night, it’s not crazy to think that New Mexico was made for camping.

The Land of Enchantment has a huge range of camping opportunities from primitive tent camping to amenities-filled RV camping to free remote camping and so much more. You can even comfortably camp all winter long if you know where to look!

Here are 30 of the best places to go camping in New Mexico.

Index

  1. Tent Camping
  2. RV Camping
  3. Free Camping
  4. Winter Camping
  5. Other Activities

Best Tent Camping in New Mexico

Gather up your camping gear (with the help of our family camping checklist) and head to New Mexico for a tent camping experience unlike any other. Countless campgrounds in every corner of the state make it easy to explore the natural beauty New Mexico is known for.

Here are 10 of the best places for tent camping in New Mexico:

1.     Aguirre Springs Campground

Organ Mountains in New Mexico

Set in the Chihuahuan Desert, Aguirre Springs Campground is a breathtakingly beautiful place to camp. The dramatic spires of the Organ Mountains serve as a backdrop to the 55 first-come, first-served campsites. Look the other way for spectacular views of White Sands National Monument. Better yet, the nightly camping fee is just $7!

Learn more about camping at Aguirre Springs Campground.

2.     Elephant Rock Campground (Carson National Forest)

Carson National Forest in New Mexico

For a convenient overnight stay in Carson National Forest, look no further than Elephant Rock Campground. This small roadside campground is tucked away in a pine forest for plenty of privacy and a relaxing atmosphere. There are 20 total campsites, some suitable for small RVs. Don’t forget your fishing poles – the nearby Red River is well-stocked during fishing season! 

Learn more about camping at Elephant Rock Campground.

3.     Jemez Falls Campground (Santa Fe National Forest)

Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico

Another well-located New Mexico campground, Jemez Falls Campground has 52 campsites perfect for tents and smaller RVs. The quiet campground is located in a strand of ponderosa pine in the Santa Fe National Forest. Thanks to the high elevation (7,880 feet above sea level), temperatures are reasonable, even in the peak of summer. Several hiking trails, including the East Fork Trail, are located nearby.

Learn more about camping at Jemez Falls Campground.

4.     Navajo Lake State Park

Navajo Lake State Park in New Mexico

Open year-round, Navajo Lake State Park is home to some of the best camping in New Mexico, no matter the season. The second largest lake in the state, Navajo Lake is a hub of water recreation, including motorized boating, kayaking and canoeing, swimming, fishing, and so much more. There are 7 campgrounds with 244 developed campsites total. Pine Campground and Cedar Campground are two of the most popular.

Learn more about camping at Navajo Lake State Park.

5.     Cosmic Campground (Gila National Forest)

Cosmic Campground in New Mexico

Cosmic Campground in Gila National Forest is one of the best places to view the Milky Way at night. Just one of 10 International Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world, this primitive New Mexico campground is more than 40 miles from the nearest significant source of artificial light. Campers are encouraged to keep artificial light use to a minimum (including camp fires and flashlights). Bring your own telescope, observe the heavens with your naked eye, or attend a “star party” to fully appreciate one of the darkest campgrounds in the country! Best of all, camping is free!

Learn more about camping at Cosmic Campground.

6.     Heron Lake State Park

Heron Lake State Park in Mew Mexico

New Mexico is home to a lot of amazing lakes but few are as picturesque as peaceful Heron Lake. Designated a “quiet lake,” all motorized boats are required not to create a wake during use, making the lake perfect for standup paddleboarding, kayaking, and more. There are ten campgrounds within the state park, including popular Willow Creek Campground, Island View Campground, and La Laja Campground. Choose from over 250 developed campsites.

Learn more about camping at Heron Lake State Park.

7.     Gallo Campground (Chaco Canyon National Historical Park)

Chaco Canyon National Historical Park

An overnight stay at Gallo Campground is the perfect way to make an already great Chaco Canyon adventure even better. Part of the larger national historical park, this New Mexico campground has 48 total campsites perfect for tent camping. Tucked in close to desert cliffs, you’ll enjoy dark night skies in addition to beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Use the remote campground as a homebase for exploring the nearby ruins of the ancestral Pueblo peoples.

Learn more about camping at Gallo Campground.

8.     El Vado Lake State Park

Yet another excellent location for lake camping in New Mexico, El Vado Lake is a mecca for tent campers. Eight total campgrounds with over 80 developed campsites plus primitive camping allows you plenty of space to spread out. Among the most popular are Grassy Point Campground, Elk Run Campground, and Pinon Beach Campground. Other popular area activities include hiking, horseback riding, fishing, boating, and swimming. The area is busy with snowshoers and cross-country skiers in the wintertime.

Learn more about camping at El Vado Lake State Park.

9.     Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico

Consisting of a huge collection of cave and cliff dwellings created by ancestral Puebloans, Bandelier National Monument is a must-visit New Mexico attraction for those interested in Native American history. Visitors have three options for camping: two campgrounds plus backcountry camping zones. Juniper Campground, the main campground, fills up fast and is best suited for tents and small RVs. Ponderosa Campground, the group campground, is also in high demand and has just two sites (both accommodate between 10 and 50 campers). The national monument is roughly 20 minutes from Los Alamos and an hour for Santa Fe.

Learn more about camping at Bandelier National Monument.

10.  McCrystal Campground (Carson National Forest)

Valle Vidal in New Mexico

McCrystal Campground in Carson National Forest provides a quiet camping experience in an absolutely stunning setting. Tucked away in Valle Vidal (Valley of Life), the campground boasts 60 primitive campsites perfect for tents and small RVs. Because of its location in prime elk and bear country, it’s popular with hunters in season. It’s also popular among anglers and equestrians though it’s just as perfect of a camping spot for traditional campers as well! Do note that the gravel road in can be rough, especially after rain. 

Learn more about camping at McCrystal Campground.


Best RV Camping in New Mexico

New Mexico has just as many RV parks and campgrounds as it does tent campgrounds. So, load up your RV (or rent an RV using our RV rental tool) and hit the road. The stunning beauty of New Mexico is just waiting to be explored!

Here are 10 of the best places for RV camping in New Mexico:

1.     High Desert RV Park

Albuquerque Skyline

Just a short drive from Albuquerque, High Desert RV Park is undoubtedly one of the best campgrounds in New Mexico. Not only is it peaceful and quiet, but the setting is simply stunning. Couple this with friendly owners and plenty of amenities (including free Wi-Fi). There are 75 total campsites, most with full RV hookups. Stay here when visiting Albuquerque or exploring the surrounding area.

Learn more about camping at High Desert RV Park.

2.     Santa Fe Skies RV Park

Santa Fe Architecture

One of the best RV campgrounds in New Mexico, Santa Fe Skies RV Park is an ideal homebase for exploring Santa Fe and its historic buildings. The campground spans 17 acres and boasts 98 total campsites. There is a mix of pull-through and back-in sites to accommodate all sizes of RVs and trailers. Full hookups are available. Just as nice as the convenient location close to town are the phenomenal views of the surrounding mountains!

Learn more about camping at Santa Fe Skies RV Park.

3.     Bottomless Lake State Park

Bottomless Lake State Park in New Mexico

Bottomless Lake State Park is one of the best state park campgrounds in New Mexico for RV camping. Although there are just 32 total campsites in the main campground, all of them have water/electricity hookups and 6 of them have full hookups. A smaller campground has 10 additional campsites best suited for tent camping. In addition to RV camping, Bottomless Lake is an ideal place for non-motorized boating, fishing, and swimming. It’s also just 15 miles from Roswell, the town famous for the 1947 Roswell UFO Incident.

Learn more about camping at Bottomless Lake State Park.

4.     City of Rocks State Park

City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico

Another New Mexico state park campground that’s ideal for RV camping, City of Rocks State Park is most notable for the exquisite volcanic formations surrounding it. Although it has less than 10 campsites with hookups, the additional 40 developed campsites are also suitable for RVs. Don’t forget to explore the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert for some of the most incredible sights in New Mexico.

Learn more about camping at City of Rocks State Park.

5.     Bonito Hollow RV Park

Bonito Lake in New Mexico

Bonito Hollow is one of the prettiest RV campgrounds in New Mexico. Just minutes from the town of Ruidoso as well as Lake Bonito, it’s the perfect location for those that prefer experiencing a mix of city sights and outdoor attractions while camping. The campground has 65 total campsites, including many with full hookups. World-class fishing in the nearby Rio Bonito and miles of hiking trails in the surrounding wilderness are additional highlights.

Learn more about camping at Bonito Hollow RV Park.

6.     Albuquerque KOA

RV Camping in New Mexico

For clean, comfortable, amenities-filled RV camping in New Mexico look no further than Albuquerque KOA. Tucked away at the foot of the Sandia Mountains, this RV campground has everything you expect from a KOA, including RV sites with full hookups, a grassy tent camping area, and plenty of cabin rentals. Additional amenities include a swimming pool (plus hot tub), dog park, and mini golf.

Learn more about camping at Albuquerque KOA.

7.     Carlsbad KOA

Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico

A veritable desert oasis, the Carlsbad KOA is conveniently located in the heart of New Mexico for easy access to the Carlsbad Caverns and other attractions. It boasts a mix of RV campsites with full hookups, grassy tent camping sites, and cabin rentals. Free Wi-Fi and free cable TV are available throughout. Thanks to a host of kid-friendly activities, we consider Carlsbad KOA one of the best family campgrounds in New Mexico. 

Learn more about camping at Carlsbad KOA.

8.     Santa Fe KOA

KOA Cabin

The Santa Fe KOA is arguably one of the best KOA campgrounds in the US. It’s clean, quiet, and comfortable. Nestled in a scenic setting in the hills outside of town, it’s the perfect place to kick back, relax, and unwind. Or, head into Santa Fe to check out historic sites like Loretto Chapel and San Miguel Mission. This KOA has a mix of RV sites with full hookups, tent camping sites, and cabin rentals. Top-notch hiking and whitewater rafting opportunities are available just minutes away. 

Learn more about camping at Santa Fe KOA.

9.     Elephant Lake Butte State Park

Elephant Lake Butte State Park

New Mexico has a lot of top-notch state park campgrounds – but Elephant Lake Butte State Park is one of the best for RV camping. It has 173 total developed campsites. 144 of these have water/electric hookups while 8 have full RV hookups. The lake itself has plenty of room for you to spread out, both on the lake itself (it’s a haven for motorized boating!) and along its sandy shores. Fishing, swimming, and scuba diving are all popular here.

Learn more about camping at Elephant Lake Butte State Park.

10.  Red Barn RV Park

For exploring world famous Roswell in your RV, you have few better options than Red Barn RV Park. Although this RV campground is small with just 15 total sites (all with full hookups), it’s exactly this small size that makes it such a great place to stay. The atmosphere is quiet and laidback. Plenty of shade allows you to kick back and relax. On-site amenities like cable television and a game room will make your stay even more enjoyable. The friendly owners will treat you like you’re family!

Learn more about camping at Red Barn RV Park.


Best Free Camping in New Mexico

Big Tesuque Campground in New Mexico

Free camping might as well be New Mexico’s middle name. It’s truly amazing just how many opportunities there are for free camping (primarily boondocking or dispersed camping) in this southwestern state, including many free campsites near major tourist attractions!

Here are 5 of the best places for free camping in New Mexico:

  • Big Tesuque CampgroundThis free campground is located in a scenic strand of aspen just north of Santa Fe. All campsites are walk-in, so they’re suitable for tent camping only.
  • Cow Creek CampgroundIf you can brave the often-rough access road, this campground is one of the best places for free camping in New Mexico. It’s located near Santa Fe and is ideal for fishing, hiking, and more.
  • Rio Chama CampgroundPart of the Santa Fe National Forest in the northern part of the state, this free New Mexico campground has 9 total campsites and can accommodate RVs up to 20’.
  • Angel Peak Scenic AreaAn expansive section of BLM land near Farmington, this free camping area is popular among RV campers. It can fit RVs of all sizes plus it has plenty of private tent camping areas. The scenic beauty of the badlands-esque canyons are worth a visit for the views alone.
  • Ojo Redondo CampgroundLocated near towering Mount Sedgwick, Ojo Redondo is one of the best free campgrounds in New Mexico thanks to its forested setting, spacious sites, and all-around tranquil atmosphere. It has 15 campsites suitable for tents and small RVs. The road in can be rough, especially after rain.

If you’re new to free camping, our guide to free camping in the US can help you plan the best New Mexico camping trip possible!


Best Winter Camping in New Mexico

Big Tesuque Campground in Winter

New Mexico is undoubtedly one of the best states for winter camping. There’s plenty of options to choose from whether you prefer to rough it hunkered down in a four-season tent and cold-weather sleeping bag while snow piles up outside or keep cozy in your RV at one of the state’s many state park campgrounds that stay open year-round.

Here are 5 of the best places for winter camping in New Mexico:

  • Ponil RV ParkSet at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, this campground and RV park is open year-round and is the perfect place to camp during the winter in northern New Mexico. Full RV hookups as well as an array of amenities (including Wi-Fi and satellite television) are available.
  • Rock Hound State ParkHome to 29 developed campsites and 23 electric campsites, this state park campground is a great place to camp no matter the season. Yet camping here in winter is particularly special thanks to the smaller crowds and greater sense of tranquility.
  • Oliver Lee Memorial State ParkDramatic views, made even more dramatic in winter, are the highlight of camping here. The Sacramento Mountains set in the background and the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert make for a beautiful atmosphere. Year-round camping is available at nearly 40 spots, many with water/electric RV hookups that are left on throughout the winter.
  • Taos Creek CabinsWinter camp in luxury at Taos Creek Cabins near Taos. The fully-furnished cabins complete with private kitchens and bathrooms offer the perfect winter camping alternative to setting up camp outdoors. This area is popular for cross-country skiing in the winter.
  • Caballo Lake State ParkNestled against the lake near the looming Caballo Mountains, this state park campground is ideal for winter camping. It has an expansive campground with 170 developed campsites and more than 100 with RV hookups. It’s a popular spot for watching the local waterfowl in winter.

Use our guide to winter camping and our winter camping gear guide to further help plan your New Mexico camping trip!


Additional Activities to Do in New Mexico

Balloons During Albuquerque Ballon Festival

Don’t forget to indulge in other activities and check out the most awesome attractions on your New Mexico camping trip. From hiking and backpacking to spelunking and climbing to exploring historical buildings and ancient ruins, there’s a reason why New Mexico is one of the most interesting states to visit in the US!

Here are some of the best activities (other than camping!) to do in New Mexico:

  • HikingNew Mexico has dozens of amazing hikes, no matter your preferred terrain or how far you want to hike. Or, kick things up a notch with an overnight backpacking trip!
  • Carlsbad Caverns National ParkExplore the expansive Carlsbad Caverns, a series of caves visitors can hike through. Marvel at the grandeur of these awesome chambers, including the Big Room, a chamber that stretches 4,000 feet long by 625 feet wide by 225 feet high.
  • White Sands National MonumentGlistening white sands in the middle of the Tularosa Basin greet you as you explore this beautiful gypsum crystal dune field.
  • Bandelier National MonumentOnce home to ancestral Puebloans, these cliff and cave dwellings date back up to 11,000 years. In addition to the dwellings, admire the petroglyphs as well as the ruggedly beautiful canyon walls.
  • Chaco Culture National Historical ParkOnce a major cultural center for the ancestral Puebloans, this collection of ancient dwellings is one of the most impressive displays of engineering abilities in the entire American southwest.

Remember that these activities and attractions are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s available to do on your New Mexico camping trip!


Best Camping in Other States!

Camping in New Mexico is hard to beat – but there’s actually fantastic camping in just about every state!

Use our best state camping guides to find the best camping in your state or in the states you plan on visiting next.

Here are some of our favorites:

Still have questions about camping in New Mexico or another state? Don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below. We’re here to help!

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