Tremendous camping opportunities can be found on public lands throughout New Mexico. These include developed campgrounds and primitive, dispersed camping opportunities, which can be found in a wide variety of backcountry environments -- from the wide open high plains and deserts of southern New Mexico to the alpine mountains of northern New Mexico.
Developed Camping Sites
^ denotes recreation areas having developed camp sites
BLM manages a variety of developed campgrounds in New Mexico. Each campground offers a different mix of facilities, landscapes, and outdoor activities. Most campgrounds charge fees, ranging from $4.00 to $10.00 per unit per night. Monies from fees charged at developed campgrounds are used to maintain those areas for everyone’s enjoyment.
We ask you to follow a policy of "treading lightly" on the land and “leaving no trace” of your visit. You can enhance the public's opportunity to enjoy these lands in the future by picking up litter, by avoiding travel that could damage the land, by observing signs and posted areas, by leaving all gates as you found them, and by staying off or asking permission to enter private lands.
There is a generally a 14-day camping limit for BLM’s developed campgrounds. An exception to this are the developed campsites within BLM’s Rio Puerco and Taos Field Offices, which have a 7-day camping limit.
If you are camping in a developed site and are in a group with more than two vehicles or more than 10 people, please use a group site or two campsites. Please respect other campers and keep the quiet hours of 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., or those posted. Pets must be kept on leashes in developed camping areas. Horses, llamas, and other livestock are not allowed in campgrounds or picnic areas, unless BLM has specifically provided facilities for that use. Personal property unattended for more 24 hours at a developed BLM site will be considered abandoned and can be disposed of by BLM at the owner’s expense.
Dispersed Camping Sites
Camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities is referred to as "dispersed camping." Most of the of public lands in New Mexico are open to dispersed camping -- as long as such use does not conflict with other authorized uses; does not occur in areas that are posted as being "closed to camping;" or in some way adversely affects wildlife species, livestock, or natural or cultural resources.
These sites are widely dispersed, undeveloped, and are generally not signed as campsites. You can locate a dispersed campsite by looking for an area at the end of a spur road or a pullout that is clear of vegetation and has a hard compacted surface. These sites may or may not have a rock fire ring. You won't find any public tables or restrooms at these sites, but you will find one of the best ways to experience the vast and open wildlands of the American Southwest.
To further protect your public lands, campers must not dispose of refuse, hazardous materials, sewage, or gray water, in any manner that would pollute the surrounding area. Please pack it out, and dispose of those materials properly.
BLM's overall policy is to allow dispersed camping on all the lands it administers with the following conditions and exceptions:
- Dispersed camping is generally allowed on public lands in New Mexico for no more than a period of 14 days within any period of 28 consecutive days. The 14-day limit may be reached either through a number of separate visits or through 14 days of continuous overnight occupation during the 28-day period. After this time period, you must relocate to another site at least 25 miles away. The purpose of this is to prevent damage to sensitive resources caused by continual use of any particular areas.
- Camping is prohibited within 900 feet of any developed water source such as a guzzler or watering trough so that the water is accessible to wildlife and livestock. Please do not park your vehicles near these waters or take any actions that would disturb wildlife or livestock from using these waters.
- Campfires must be attended at all times. Campers will be held liable for fire suppression costs if their fire gets out of control.
- When using a motorized vehicle for camping access within a “Limited Use Area,” limit your parking and vehicle-based camping to no more than 300 feet from an established road.
- Camping is permitted within all units of the National Wilderness Preservation System administered by the BLM in New Mexico. However, all motorized and mechanized vehicles and equipment are strictly prohibited in these areas.
- Individual BLM Field Offices may have additional or supplemental special camping rules or guidelines. Please call our Field Offices or visit our individual recreation websites for this information.
Be careful with fire at all times! Areas can be devastated by thoughtlessness or indifference on the part of anyone - hunter, camper, local resident or visitor. New Mexico often suffers from drought, making the risk of fire very high, and it is up to all of us to protect our lands. Here are some easy rules and guidelines to follow:
- Check fire conditions before heading out by calling the appropriate field office, or look up the most recent information at www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/.
- Obey all fire use restrictions issued by the State of New Mexico or the BLM.
- You may not collect wood when in a developed campsite. However, you may use "dead and down" wood for small personal campfires on the rest of BLM-managed lands if there are no other fire restrictions.
- Always build fires in the stove, grill, fireplace or ring provided in developed campgrounds.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Carry a shovel and water with you and be sure all fires are "dead out" before you leave.
- Consider cooking on a camp stove rather than over a fire.
- Crush cigarettes in ashtrays rather than tossing them out.
- Do not burn trash or material that produces toxic or hazardous material.
Many dispersed campsites are beginning to show signs of impact from heavy use. Campers can lessen their impact on public lands by adopting the following “Leave No Trace” minimum impact principles:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare -- Get to know the regulations and special concerns for the area you plan to visit.
- Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces -- Use existing routes and trails, and, when possible, camp at previously used sites. Camp at least 300 yards from any water source used by wildlife or livestock and 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from all streams and springs.
- Pack It In, Pack It Out -- Pack out your trash … and a little extra.
- Properly dispose of What You Can't Pack Out -- Deposit human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp, or trails. Cover and disguise the catholes when finished.
- Leave What You Find -- Treat our cultural heritage with respect. Leave all archaeology sites and artifacts as you find them.
- Minimize the Use and Impact of Fire -- Use a lightweight stove for cooking. If you do build a fire, keep it small and only use dead and down wood. You will find that firewood in arid environments is scarce, so plan to bring your own. Also, use established fire rings and consider using a fire pan to contain a campfire and prevent the fire from blackening the soil. Before breaking camp, transfer cold ashes into a plastic bag or other container for disposal at home.
For more information on how to minimize your impacts on the land you may want to visit these non-government sites:
Leave No Trace! website: http://www.lnt.org/main.html
Tread Lightly website: http://www.treadlightly.org/
Alcohol & Drug Use
Operating any vehicle or firearm, maintaining a campfire, and undertaking other recreational activities require skill and good judgment. Alcohol and drugs impair both. You become a danger to yourself and others when you take drugs or drink alcohol.
Laws regarding DWI, open containers, and giving or buying alcohol for someone under the age of 21 apply everywhere in the state, even if you are on a backcountry trail. The penalties are the same, including jail time and the loss of your driver’s license. Possession or use of illegal drugs on public lands is against the law.