Best Free Camping in New Mexico

Dispersed Camping New Mexico

Whimsically nicknamed "Land of Enchantment," New Mexico lives up to its reputation with magical sprawling deserts, stunning mountains, and plenty of fresh air.

New Mexico offers up plenty of picturesque spots to pitch your tent or chock your camper while offering up experiences and destinations like cultural events, world-class spas, and Southwestern art galleries. To top it off, with free camping and public lands camping in New Mexico, you can enjoy all of the splendor while staying on budget.

Can you Camp Anywhere in New Mexico?

No. Like most places, campers in New Mexico can not simply settle in for the night anywhere that they choose. The state has a mix of private land, national public lands, and state public lands. If you want to find free camping in New Mexico, you'll need to pay attention to what type of land you're on, and any rules or regulations for its use.

Is there BLM Land in New Mexico?

Yes. In New Mexico, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing over 2 million acres of publicly-owned land. This includes national monuments as well as acres of public land that is prime for exploration.

New Mexico is home to some of the best free national forest camping, cheap camping in state parks, and ample dispersed camping on BLM land. Quaint little towns full of artists and the rich history of the people who’ve lived here for thousands of years dot two-lane roads that wind forever away from the hustle and bustle of civilization.

Can you Camp for Free in the New Mexico National Forests?

Home to millions of acres of forestland, from pinyon pine deserts to tall ponderosa pines, the US Forest Service provides enough campgrounds and wild camping locations to fill a lifetime’s worth of adventures.

Carson National Forest

RV camping in Carson National Forest puts you in the heart of the mountains north of Santa Fe. Carson National Forest is home to Wheeler Peak, a 13,000-foot behemoth surrounded by several companions over 12,000 feet themselves. These silver faced, snow-capped ridges and dense pine forests ready you for the transition from the Land of Enchantment to Colorado's Rocky Mountains to the north.

At the center of the three major landscapes that make up Carson National Forest is Taos, New Mexico, an artsy little villa that beckons everyone from bikers to bodhisattvas to explore whatever mystical nature the town seems to hold.

Gila National Forest

Though the Gila National Forest is wild and beautiful in its own right, it is best known for being the home to the Gila Wilderness. The Gila Wilderness is the United States' first designated Wilderness, established way back in 1924. Together with its surrounding national forest, the Gila complex is rugged, remote, and stunningly gorgeous.

Gila National Forest is reached via roads that wind through juniper forests, and while they are passable to any vehicle, their twists and turns aren't for the faint of heart. Keep an eye out for creatures such as the roadrunner and the elusive Gila monster.

Outdoor adventures include plentiful dispersed camping, hundreds of miles of hiking and horseback trails, the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, and springtime rafting on the Gila River. There are a smattering of natural hot springs in the area, too!

Sante Fe National Forest

Wrapped all around the city by the same name,Santa Fe National Forestholds everything from quaint little campgrounds to vista-laden dispersed camping. This national forest is the perfect home base for exploring everything this area has to offer, from the hot springs and fumaroles of Valles Caldera National Monument to the cliff dwellings of the Ancient Puebloans in Bandelier National Monument.

Lincoln National Forest

Why a national forest in New Mexico is named for Abraham Lincoln is a mystery best left to the shadowy throws of some long-gone morning’s mist, but we can say for sure is that this national forest fills the gaps left by Carlsbad National Park’s lack of RV camping, with plenty of adventure and the promise of the unknown. Not to mention that it’s the birthplace of the original, actual Smokey the Bear.

Legend has it that a young black bear cub escaped seemingly certain death by climbing a tree during an immense forest fire, but not before his paws were singed. Rescued, he quickly rose to fame and now travels the nation dousing people’s fires if they get out of hand.

It’s true, ask any bear in Lincoln National Forest, and they’ll tell you the same.

portable computer displaying map of camping locations
mobile device showing map of camping locations


Become a member & get access to features like:
Cell Coverage Maps
Public Land Overlays
Trail Map Layers
Ad Free

Recent New Mexico Free Campsite Reviews

Holloman Air Force Base, NM

Lake Holloman Dispersed Camping

Dec 06, 2021

"Perfect for visiting the Sand dunes!"

active staractive staractive staractive starinactive star
The drive comes up on you quick so pay attention as the gps is about half mile off. If traveling 70 West it is the last drive on the right hand side before you get to the NP visitor center. If coming 70 East there is a turn lane into the drive.. The gates are at a odd angle so it makes it very tight on the way in. We have a full sized Ram and a...
Read More

james ball
1 review
Cloudcroft, NM

Bluff Springs

Dec 05, 2021

"I camped next to a waterfall!"

active staractive staractive staractive starinactive star
This was an amazing place! Bluff Springs National Recreational Area in Lincoln National Forest. 8100’ elevation. I was able to back my TT in to a nice space tucked out of the way. The view out my front door was looking straight at the waterfall! I sat quite often and just watched and listened to the water pouring over the rocks....
Read More

Dan Eischens
10 reviews
Holloman Air Force Base, NM

Lake Holloman Dispersed Camping

Dec 03, 2021

"Quiet, beautiful"

active staractive staractive staractive staractive star
Stayed here Dec 2nd 2021, gate open! Quiet beautiful place to stay. There were 6 or so other campers but there’s a lot of room. Closes camper was hundreds of feet away. We stayed about 200 feet from the lake and we didn’t notice any bad smells other reviews have mentioned. GPS tells you to leave 70 a bit early, but within half a mile is...
Read More

Ash Jacobs
1 review
Holloman Air Force Base, NM

Lake Holloman Dispersed Camping

Dec 02, 2021

active staractive staractive staractive staractive star
Google and Garmin both had us trying to turn in north of the actual gate. There were actual signs marking the turnoff. Also, there is a a turn lane to turn into the road if coming from Las Cruces. The gate is narrow, but doable. We were fine with at 37 foot class A and tow vehicle. Plenty of room to disconnect and maneuver shortly after the...
Read More

51 reviews
Carlsbad, NM

Sunset Reef Campground

Dec 01, 2021

"Great Location "

active staractive staractive staractive staractive star
Campground located off highway 62 & Washington Ranch road. You will travel less than a mile on a gravel road. It is a bit rocky and in some sections washboard. No major dips or ruts. You do not need a high clearance vehicle to get to campground. In some sections it is narrow. Would recommend disconnecting prior to going down gravel road if...
Read More

51 reviews