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One of the biggest reasons I decided to move to New Mexico is the endless outdoor recreation opportunities, which are perfect for adventurers like me who love to hike, bike, climb, paddle, and explore. To spend even more time out in nature, there are also lots of excellent places to camp throughout the state at local park campgrounds, private RV parks, and out in the backcountry.
To help you make the most of your outdoor adventures for a weekend getaway or longer vacation, here are some of the best campgrounds in New Mexico.
Rancheros de Santa Fe is a scenic campground and RV resort that is quiet and wooded, yet just minutes from the main attractions in town. It is located along Historic Route 66 and by the Santa Fe Trail. The campground is open from early March through early November, but there are a few back-in sites for self-contained RVs that you can book during the dry season. This is a private campground but one that is still out in nature and nestled among 22 acres of pinon pine and juniper bushes. You can camp here in a tent, RV, or cabin. There is a swimming pool that’s open during the summer, as well as an onsite hiking trail, a large playground, clean restrooms, and nightly movies between May and September. Other benefits of staying here are the enclosed dog park, gift shop, cable TV for full hookup sites, and laundromat.
Navajo Lake is a beautiful lake in New Mexico that is popular for boating and kayaking. It is the second-largest lake in the state and has multiple campgrounds, two boat docks, and two marinas. The park sits at an elevation of between 5,600 and 6,600 feet. In total, there are seven campgrounds and 244 developed campsites here. Those sites break down as follows: 41 electric 30-amp campsites, 45 water and electric 30-amp campsites, 11 water and electric 50-amp campsites, and eight water/electric/sewer full hookup 30-amp sites. The Cottonwood Campground is especially popular at the lake. Beach camping and boat-in camping are also primitive camping options.
There are many campgrounds located in the Santa Fe National Forest, including the Jacks Creek Campground. This is a lovely camping area in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has 39 campsites near the Pecos Wilderness Area. The landscape here features mountain scenery, high mountain lakes, fir tree forest, and the Pecos River. This is an especially wonderful place to visit in the fall because the aspen trees turn a bright golden color as the seasons change. The campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis and accommodates tents and camping trailers. The fee to camp is $10 per night, and the open season is May to October. Potable water is not available, but there are vault and compost toilets that campers can use.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park is a popular place to camp in New Mexico and the largest state park here. This is also a great place to take out a kayak, sailboat, jet ski, or houseboat. There are developed sites with water and electric hookups for RVs at the park. Camping is available year-round, and you can book a site online at the Desert Cove, Lions Beach, Quail Run, or South Monticello campgrounds. Primitive camping is available here too. In total, there are 173 developed campsites (144 water and electric sites and eight full hookup sites) at Elephant Butte.
To camp among the tall ponderosa pines and along a stream, consider making plans to camp at the Rio de las Vacas Campground in New Mexico. This campground is about a mile past the Clear Creek Campground (another good option) and open from May to October. You can spend your days fishing in the river, hunting in the forest, and picnicking in the meadow. Make a reservation for your campsite online because this campground fills up quickly. The camping fee is $10 per night, and there are vault toilets and potable water available until the temperatures start to drop in mid-fall.
Located in Northern New Mexico, Heron Lake State Park offers camping opportunities, as well as sailing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and hiking. There are several campgrounds at the state park, which sits at 7,167 feet of elevation. You’ll love hiking and fishing along the Rio Chama while camping and snapping photos of the panoramic views along the suspension bridge that crosses the river on the 5.5-mile hiking trail. The park has eight developed campgrounds, 192 developed campsites, 54 water and electric sites, and an RV dump station. For primitive camping, you can also stay in the three primitive camping areas or try shoreline camping or boat-in camping here.
When you want to check out Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu Lake in New Mexico, a beautiful and convenient place to stay is Echo Campground. The campground is located next to a natural rock amphitheater in the Carson National Forest and about 15 miles northwest of Abiquiu. You can pitch a tent here among the impressive sandstone rock formations and hike up the short trail to call out and hear your own echo. There are 21 campsites with three small pull-throughs for trailers less than 32 feet here. The campground cannot accommodate large RVs, and there are no hookups. However, potable water is available at the group shelter. The fee to camp is $10 per night.
Another private camping option in New Mexico is the Santa Fe Skies RV Park, which is a great choice if you want hookups, showers, and a laundromat. This Santa Fe campground has 98 sites, including 55 pull-through sites and 43 back-in sites. The amenities here include free Wi-Fi, a propane fill station, dump station, and a walking trail. It is a big-rig-friendly campground that is spread across 17 acres of land overlooking the mountains of Santa Fe. Nightly rates are approximately $70 to $75.
Nestled between sandstone bluffs and the Pecos River, Villanueva State Park offers a campground, day-use area, and hiking trails. There are developed campsites along the river that can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. You can book a site online in advance or try to get a first-come, first-served campground year-round. In total, the campground has 36 developed campsites and a water-in campground. Equestrian camping is possible here also.
You can go camping at City of Rocks State Park in the Chihuahuan desert region in southwestern New Mexico and see impressive rock formations rising as high as 40 feet. The park is about halfway between Deming and Silver City, and it offers camping, 5.5 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, picnic areas, and a desert botanical garden. There are 30-amp and 50-amp online reservation sites here, as well as non-reservation sites that are first come, first-served.
When you want to visit White Sands National Park, a comfortable place to stay is the Alamogordo KOA, which is about a 20-mile drive away. There are no designated campsites actually inside the national park. This KOA campground has sites for tents, RVs, and cabins. There is a large recreation room here, as well as a pool that is open from May to early October. The maximum pull-through length is 110 feet, so it is a big-rig-friendly campground. The Alamogordo KOA also has a dog park, cable TV, Wi-Fi, and bike rentals available.
One of the most unique places to visit in New Mexico is Chaco Canyon National Historical Park, which is home to ancestral Puebloan ruins that were inhabited by people between 850 and 1250 CE. The Gallo Campground is located within the park and is a mile east of the visitor center. It is open year-round and surrounded by petroglyphs and a cliff dwelling. The campsites are $20 per night and can be reserved online. There are no hookups at the campsites, and the maximum trailer/RV length is 35 feet. Most sites are available for both tents or RVs and come with picnic tables and a fire grate with a grill.
An ideal home base for your trip to Taos, New Mexico is the Taos Valley RV Park, which offers tent camping and RV sites. The campground is just a short drive from everything that Taos has to offer and has competitive rates for the area. Tents, vans, travel trailers, fifth-wheel campers, and class-A motorhomes are welcome here. At the campground, you’ll find free Wi-Fi, coin-operated laundry machines, onsite bathrooms, and full hookup sites. The daily rates typically range from $34 to $54 at Taos Valley RV Park.
Albuquerque is a common home base for people visiting New Mexico, and there are some campgrounds that you can stay at here to experience the region. The High Desert RV Park is just west of Albuquerque on Interstate 40. You can stay here for a night, a week, or longer. There are 76 spacious sites with picnic tables at the High Desert RV Park, as well as clean restrooms, laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi, and pet areas. The campground also offers an activity center and billiards tables in a gated community. The main gate closes at 8 pm, but you can get a gate code to get in if you make a reservation.
There are also numerous Bureau of Land Management (BLM) camping areas in New Mexico, such as the Aguirre Spring Recreation Area and Campground. The campground has 55 sites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can admire the impressive Organ Mountains that curve around the Chihuahuan Desert from here because the campground is located at the base of the cliffs and overlook White Sands National Park and the Tularosa Basin. There are seasonal springs that run through the area. Water is available at the entrance by the camp host site, and the recommended maximum length for RVs is 23 feet due to the narrow and winding road to reach the campground.