Best campgrounds in New Mexico
From relaxing to action-packed, this guide of family campgrounds will help you plan your next camping expedition.
Black Canyon Campground
Located near the city of Santa Fe, Black Canyon Campground is far enough away to make for a relaxing retreat. Situated in a pine and Douglas fir forest, the campground is at the trailhead for the Black Canyon Trail. Hiking, walking and wildlife viewing are all part of the adventure. Beware of the occasional bear and try and catch the wildflowers in late spring and early summer. There are 36 sites at this location and six walk-in sites for tent camping. Vehicles cost $10 each night. Open April through November unless adverse weather conditions occur. Dogs are allowed.
Location: Santa Fe National Forest, 1474 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Cebolla Mesa Campground
Located right on the edge of the Rio Grande Gorge, this campground is certainly picturesque with the Taos Mountains as your backdrop. The rapids of the Rio Grande 800 feet below the campsites make for a peaceful night's sleep, and the sun rising against the canyon walls is the perfect alarm clock. The Cebolla Mesa Trail is a delightful family hike. Best part — this campground is free, but it has only five sites. Open May through October, beware of the summer heat. Dogs are allowed on leashes.
Location: Carson National Forest, 208 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, NM 87571
Jack's Creek Campground and Trailhead
High in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains you will find Jack's Creek Campground and Trailhead. Situated in groves of aspen and fir trees, there is still plenty of space for children to explore and stretch out. Fall is especially picturesque with the changing colors of the aspen leaves. Access hiking and backpacking from the campground. There are several double campsites that are great for larger families or family reunions. Both dogs and horses are allowed at this campground. The season runs the first of May through Nov. 15th, always dependent upon weather. The fee is $10 per vehicle.
Location: Santa Fe National Forest, 1474 Rodeo Road Santa Fe, NM 87505
Red River Canyon is as scenic as it sounds. It's simply an outdoor enthusiast's dream. The Columbine Campground also serves as the trailhead for a Columbine Canyon hike. There are 27 campsites, eight with fire pits and cooking grills. Columbine Creek snakes its way through the campground, and the larger Red River runs alongside the road near the campground. Dogs are allowed on leashes, and the fee is $15 per site.
Location: Carson National Forest – 208 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, NM 87571
Rocky Bay Primitive Campground at Brantlay Lake State Park
Located at the southernmost lake in New Mexico, this campground is an oasis for desert plant and animal life. Water activities are extremely popular and fishing clinics are offered to educate everyone from the novice to the professional. Even try your hand at kite flying on Brantlay Lake. Note, these are very primitive campsites situated on several miles of shoreline. Tent cities are a common occurrence on weekends, as this is an extremely popular spot in summer. The campground is open all year, and the fee is $8 per site per night.
Location: P.O. Box 2288, Carlsbad, NM 88221
Rockhound State Park
With 36 total sites and 29 with water and electricity, this is a great camping spot for kids. The playground helps add entertainment for the wee ones, and there is a short trail that is ideal for families. Rarely are you encouraged to take home a piece of the wilderness, but at Rockhound State Park, the rocks are for taking. Open year-round, the fee is $10.
Location: P.O. Box 1064, Deming, NM 88030
El Vado Lake State Park
A fantastic spot in New Mexico's northern mountains, El Vado Lake takes center stage with recreational options including fishing, boating and water skiing. There are fantastic spots for trout and kokanee fishing in quiet coves and two boat ramps. There are 80 developed sites making this one heck of a popular spot. There is a modern comfort station with a dozen vaulted toilers and showers. 19 of the sites also have electric hookups. For the wee ones, there is a brand new playground. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, ospreys and more impressive birds.
Location: P.O. Box 367, T.A. NM 87575