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Santa Fe National Forest Camping

Nestled among the diverse landscapes of New Mexico, Santa Fe National Forest offers a variety of camping experiences for outdoor enthusiasts.

From the high desert to the mountain forests, this national treasure boasts a vast range of camping opportunities, providing visitors with both primitive campsites and developed campgrounds.

With its picturesque surroundings and accessible amenities, Santa Fe National Forest is a must-visit destination for those seeking adventure and tranquility in nature.

Views of Sangre De Cristo Mountains can be seen while Santa Fe National Forest camping

All About Santa Fe National Forest

Santa Fe National Forest, located in New Mexico, America, spans over 1.6 million acres of diverse and stunning terrain. The forest features a variety of landscapes, including mountains, valleys, and mesas that range in elevation from 5,000 to 13,000 feet.

Elevation in the Santa Fe National Forest varies greatly, affecting the overall camping experience. Lower-elevation campgrounds typically have milder temperatures and showcase desert landscapes, while higher-elevation campgrounds feature cooler temperatures and are surrounded by lush forests. It is essential for campers to be aware of their preferred elevation level and corresponding temperatures when planning their trip.

The forest encompasses parts of two distinct mountain ranges, the Jemez Mountains and a portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The widely known San Pedro Parks Wilderness is also part of this vast forest area. These mountainous landscapes provide ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, and camping.

Visitors to Santa Fe National Forest will find themselves traversing through beautifully forested areas dominated by ponderosa pine, as well as high desert regions. The diverse ecosystem of the forest supports various wildlife species, making it an ideal location for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

From the scenic Jemez Mountains to the expansive San Pedro Parks Wilderness, visitors can immerse themselves in a unique and diverse natural environment that offers a memorable camping experience.

Camping in Santa Fe National Forest

Santa Fe National Forest offers a variety of camping experiences to suit the preferences of both outdoor enthusiasts and nature-loving tourists. From primitive sites to developed campgrounds with electrical hookups for RVs and trailers, visitors can find the perfect spot to set up camp and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Santa Fe National Forest is made up of five different ranger districts, each offering several campgrounds for visitors.


Jemez Ranger District is home to several beautiful campgrounds, including Jemez Falls Campground, Paliza Family Campground, Redondo Campground, San Antonio Campground, and Vista Linda Campground. These campgrounds cater to both tent and RV campers, providing varied levels of amenities.

Pecos-Las Vegas

In the Pecos – Las Vegas Ranger District, you can find Cowles Campground, E.V. Long Campground, El Porvenir Campground, Field Tract Campground, Holy Ghost Campground, Iron Gate Campground, Jacks Creek Campground, and Johnson Mesa Campground.

Each of these campgrounds offers a unique experience, from serene lakeside views to the lush greenery of aspen and pine trees.


Coyote Ranger District features rustic campgrounds such as Coyote Canyon Camping Area, Resumidero Camping Area, Rio Chama Campground, Rio Puerco Campground, Clear Creek Campground, Clear Creek Campground Group Area, and Rio De Las Vacas Campground. These campgrounds offer a more primitive camping experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature.


The Cuba Ranger District is located in the western part of the forest and provides campers with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Some popular campgrounds in this district include the Clear Creek Campground and the Rio Se Las Vacas Campground.


For campers who prefer more developed sites, the Espanola Ranger District has Black Canyon Campground, ideal for family camping trips. And, of course, Santa Fe National Forest is also home to the popular Resumidero Camping Area, nestled in an alpine meadow with easy access to the San Pedro Parks Wilderness.


Reservations are recommended for some campsites in Santa Fe National Forest, as many of them are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To secure a spot in one of these campgrounds, visitors can make reservations in advance through the online platform Both individual campsites and group sites can be reserved, ensuring a designated space in the desired location.

Facilities and Amenities

At the Santa Fe National Forest, campers can expect a range of facilities and amenities to enhance their outdoor experience. Developed campgrounds in the forest offer varying levels of services, catering to different needs and preferences.

Many of the camping units come equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and grills, providing convenient and comfortable spots for campers to cook and dine al fresco. Additionally, vault toilets are also available in some campgrounds, affording campers with basic sanitation facilities.

For those who prefer a more connected experience, certain campgrounds offer electrical hookups for RV or trailer camping. This amenity allows campers to maintain some modern comforts while enjoying the natural beauty of the Santa Fe National Forest. It is important to note, however, that not all campgrounds provide hookups, so campers should check individual campground details before planning their stay.

In terms of waste management, many campgrounds are equipped with trash bins and encourage recycling. Campers are urged to pack out their trash and leave the area as clean as they found it, preserving the pristine environment for future visitors.

Some sites within the Santa Fe National Forest even offer unique facilities, such as horse corrals and covered three-sided shelters with fireplaces. These amenities cater to specific camper interests and ensure a comfortable stay.

Overall, the Santa Fe National Forest campgrounds provide a range of facilities and amenities to suit various camping styles, allowing each visitor to enjoy their time in nature while being mindful of the environment’s preservation.

Exploring the Surroundings

Santa Fe National Forest offers a diverse range of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. Two popular outdoor pursuits in the area are fishing and hiking. The forest’s picturesque landscapes, combined with its abundant flora and fauna, create a serene environment for these activities.

Fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines in the forest’s numerous lakes and streams. Some well-known fishing spots include the Redondo Campground and San Antonio Campground. The water bodies within Santa Fe National Forest are teeming with various species of fish, providing anglers with an exciting challenge.

In addition to fishing, there are numerous hiking trails available for individuals of all skill levels. One of the most popular trails in the area is the Black Canyon Trail, which provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Santa Fe National Forest’s extensive network of trails allows hikers to explore various other aspects of the forest, such as its unique geological formations and rich wildlife. For a more adventurous experience, visitors can venture into the wilderness and camp at one of the many primitive or developed campgrounds.

No matter your outdoor interests, the Santa Fe National Forest has something for everyone. With a wide range of activities and beautiful natural scenery, exploring the surroundings of this national treasure is an experience you won’t forget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any fire restrictions in Santa Fe National Forest?

Fire restrictions in Santa Fe National Forest can vary based on current conditions and local regulations. It is important to check the latest updates on the Santa Fe National Forest website or contact the Forest Service at (505) 438-5300 before your camping trip to get up-to-date information on fire restrictions and closures.

What is the best campground in Santa Fe National Forest?

There are many campgrounds in Santa Fe National Forest, each offering different amenities and experiences. Some popular campgrounds include Black Canyon Campground, Jemez Falls Campground, and San Antonio Campground. The best campground for you depends on your preferences and needs, such as elevation, scenery, and available amenities. Be sure to explore different campgrounds on the US Forest Service website before making a reservation.

Which trails are popular in Santa Fe National Forest?

Santa Fe National Forest has a variety of trails suitable for different levels of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Some popular trails include Winsor Trail, Aspen Vista Trail, and Borrego-Bear Wallow Trail. The Santa Fe National Forest website provides a list of trails with detailed information, difficulty levels, and trail maps to help you find the perfect trail for your adventure.

What is the weather like in Santa Fe National Forest?

The weather in Santa Fe National Forest can vary greatly depending on the elevation and time of year. Summers can be hot in lower elevations, while higher elevations can experience cooler temperatures. Winters can bring snow and freezing temperatures, particularly at higher elevations. It is essential to check the local weather forecast and pack appropriately for the conditions.

Are there designated dispersed camping areas in Santa Fe National Forest?

Yes, Santa Fe National Forest does have designated dispersed camping areas. These are primitive camping locations offering fewer amenities than developed campgrounds. Dispersed camping allows for a more rustic and remote camping experience but requires campers to follow Leave No Trace principles and be prepared to camp without amenities like restrooms, potable water, and trash collection.

A road through the fall foliage of Santa Fe National Forest

Visit the Sante Fe National Forest Today

Spanning across 1.6 million acres, Sante Fe National Forest provides campers with a ton of choices when it comes to selecting the perfect camping spot.

Many campgrounds within the forest provide modern amenities such as electrical hookups for RV and trailer camping, as well as toilets and other facilities. For those seeking a more primitive experience, there are also campgrounds with minimal amenities, allowing campers to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area.

Santa Fe National Forest offers an unforgettable camping experience for everyone– a definite must-visit location!

And be sure to check out our post on Lincoln National Forest–another of New Mexico’s natural wonders!