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Camping on Public Lands

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

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 "tread lightly" on the land and “leave no trace” of your visit.

There is a generally a 14-day camping limit for BLM’s developed campgrounds.  An exception to this is the developed campsites within BLM’s Rio Puerco and Taos Field Offices, which have a 7-day camping limit.

When camping in a developed site:

  • If you have 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. 
  • 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 will be considered abandoned and can be disposed of by the BLM at the owner’s expense.
  • On developed recreation sites and areas, unless otherwise authorized, you may not discharge or use firearms, other weapons, or fireworks.

Dispersed Camping Sites

Camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities is referred to as "dispersed camping."  These sites are widely dispersed, undeveloped, and are generally not signed as campsites.

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 must comply with all fire restrictions. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

 Dispersed camping must not:

  • conflict with other authorized uses;
  • occur in areas that are posted as being "closed to camping;" or
  • in some way adversely affect wildlife species, livestock, or natural or cultural resources.


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
  • Obey all fire use restrictions issued by the State of New Mexico or the BLM. You can find a list of BLM’s fire restrictions at:
  • You may not collect wood when in a developed campsite.  However, you may use "dead and down" wood for small personal campfires, unless collection of wood is otherwise restricted, on the rest of BLM-managed lands if there are no fire restrictions.
  • Do not burn trash or material that produces toxic or hazardous material.
  • 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.

Alcohol & Drug Use

Possession or use of illegal drugs on public lands is against the law.


BLM New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Areas

Photo of Tent Camping

Camping Camping

^ Indicates recreation areas having developed camp sites. All others offer dispersed camping.

Carlsbad Field Office
 Pecos River Corridor Recreation Area

Farmington Field Office

^ Angel Peak Scenic Area
 Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

Las Cruces District Office
^Aguirre Spring Campground
 Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
 Gila Lower Box Canyon
 McGregor Range
^Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

Rio Puerco Field Office

 Cabezon Peak Wilderness Study Area
 Cebolla Wilderness
 Chain of Craters Backcountry Byway
 Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
 El Malpais National Conservation Area
 Ignacio Chavez Special Management Area
 Ojito Wilderness

West Malpais Wilderness

Roswell Field Office

 Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area
 Haystack Mountain OHV Area
 Mescalero Sands North Dune OHV Area

Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Socorro Field Office

 Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

Datil Well Recreation Area Campground


Johnson (Gordy's) Hill


Quebradas Backcountry Byway


San Lorenzo Canyon Recreation Area

 Socorro Nature Area

Taos Field Office

 Rio Chama Wild and Scenic River

Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River

^Red River Wild and Scenic River

Wild Rivers Backcountry Byway


Wild Rivers Recreation Area

^Orilla Verde Recreation Area
^Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area
 Sabinoso Wilderness
 Diablo Canyon Recreation Area