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Exploring the Wilderness: Best Camping Spots in Southeast New Mexico 

Updated: May 1

Nestled within the rugged beauty of the Southwest lies Southeast New Mexico, a region brimming with natural wonders and outdoor camping adventures.

camping at night under the stars

For camping enthusiasts, this area offers a diverse array of landscapes, from rolling desert plains to majestic mountain ranges. Whether you're seeking solitude under the stars or craving an adrenaline-fueled escapade, Southeast New Mexico has something to offer every camper. Let's embark on a journey to discover the best camping spots in this hidden gem of the American Southwest. 

Undoubtedly one of the crown jewels of Southeast New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. While the park is renowned for its breathtaking caverns, it also boasts excellent camping facilities. The Walnut Canyon Desert Loop Campground offers primitive camping amidst the desert landscape, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquil beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert. For those seeking a more luxurious camping experience, the RV-friendly campgrounds near the visitor center provide modern amenities and easy access to the park's iconic attractions. 


mountain biking

Encompassing vast swathes of pristine wilderness, Lincoln National Forest beckons adventurers with its rugged terrain and abundant recreational opportunities. Campers can choose from a variety of campgrounds scattered throughout the forest, each offering a unique experience. Whether you prefer the serene ambiance of dispersed camping in the backcountry or the convenience of developed campgrounds with amenities such as picnic tables and fire rings, Lincoln National Forest has something for everyone. Be sure to explore popular destinations like Sitting Bull Falls and the Sacramento Mountains for unforgettable outdoor adventures. 


Venture further west, and you'll discover the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, a rugged expanse of wilderness that boasts the highest peak in Texas. Camping in the Guadalupe Mountains offers a backcountry experience like no other, with primitive campsites nestled amidst towering peaks and ancient fossil reefs. Hikers will delight in the park's extensive trail network, which leads to hidden oases, towering cliffs, and panoramic vistas. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of McKittrick Canyon, especially during the fall when the foliage bursts into vibrant hues of red and gold. 

young ladies camping outdoors

Tucked away in the shadow of the towering Organ Mountains, Oliver Lee Memorial State Park offers a tranquil retreat for campers seeking solitude and serenity. The park's eponymous campground features spacious sites with stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape. Nature lovers will appreciate the abundance of hiking trails that wind through rugged canyons and along meandering streams, while history buffs can explore remnants of the area's rich ranching heritage. After a day of exploration, relax under the star-studded skies and savor the magic of the desert at night. 

Other notable camping spots throughout Southeast New Mexico: 

  • Bottomless Lakes State Park - Enjoy camping near picturesque lakes with opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing. 

  • Brantley Lake State Park - Camp along the shores of Brantley Lake and indulge in water activities like boating and fishing. 

  • Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area - Camp near a stunning waterfall and explore the surrounding hiking trails and picnic areas. 

  • Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge - Primitive camping is available for nature enthusiasts looking to observe wildlife and bird species. 

  • Santa Rosa Lake State Park - Camp by the lake and enjoy water sports, fishing, and hiking in the surrounding area. 

  • Lake Arthur - A serene camping spot with opportunities for fishing and birdwatching. 

  • Mescalero Sands North Dune OHV Area - Ideal for off-road enthusiasts with designated camping areas amidst sand dunes. 

  • Sumner Lake State Park - Camp by the lake and enjoy boating, fishing, and birdwatching in a peaceful setting. 

  • Three Rivers Petroglyph Site - Primitive camping is available near ancient petroglyphs, offering a unique camping experience. 

  • Valley of Fires Recreation Area - Camp amidst lava flows from an ancient volcanic eruption, with hiking trails and interpretive exhibits. 

  • Roswell UFO Festival Campground - Experience the unique atmosphere of Roswell while camping during the annual UFO festival. This year's festival is July 5-7th, 2024.

  • White Sands National Park - Although primarily a day-use area, backcountry camping is available for those seeking a unique overnight experience. 

  • Bonito Lake - A scenic spot for camping, fishing, and kayaking surrounded by forested mountains. 

  • Dog Canyon Campground - Located in the Sacramento Mountains, offering beautiful vistas and hiking opportunities. 

  • Lincoln Historic Site - Camp near historic landmarks and explore the rich history of the area. 

  • Mescalero Apache Reservation - Some areas offer camping opportunities, allowing visitors to experience Apache culture and traditions. 

Southeast New Mexico is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an array of camping experiences amidst breathtaking natural beauty, from tranquil lakeside retreats to rugged desert landscapes, ensuring there's something for every camping enthusiast to enjoy. 

Whether you're marveling at the otherworldly formations of Carlsbad Caverns, trekking through the rugged terrain of Lincoln National Forest, or gazing up at the towering peaks of Guadalupe Mountains, the region promises unforgettable adventures at every turn. So pack your gear, hit the road, and embark on a camping journey through Southeast New Mexico – where wilderness awaits at every bend in the trail.  

Don't miss out on the Scouting adventures ahead of you. Get started!


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