Bureau Of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for managing public lands. These lands are used for a variety of purposes such as livestock grazing, recreation, energy development, maintaining natural, cultural, and historic resources, and more. While they do have developed campgrounds that you can pay a fee to use, they mostly have dispersed camping available.
These campsites are good for tent camping but can also be used for RVers, vans, campers, and other styles of camping. To camp on BLM grounds, you need to know a few things first. These are stated on the BLM website as well.
Search BLMs interactive map here so you can find free camping areas that will suit your needs. You shouldnt depend on Google Earth for BLM locations as they are not shown on their maps.
Dispersed Camping Rules & Regulations
One of our favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of permits, reservations, and other requirements youll often find at developed campgrounds. However, there are some basic guidelines youll need to adhere to.
It is best to check current regulations with the relevant USFS or BLM office, but you should plan on adhering to the following as outlined by the USFS:
- Do not camp in areas near trailheads, picnic areas, or developed campgrounds.
- Keep your campsite small.
- Practice Leave No Trace principles more on that below!
Always be sure to check for current New Mexico fire regulations by visiting the New Mexico Fire Information website before setting out.
Leave No Trace Principles & Dispersed Camping
One of the most important considerations when dispersed camping in New Mexico is to follow Leave No Trace principles. This will minimize your impact and ensure your campsite can be enjoyed by future visitors. Here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace camping:
The Upper Bonito Recreation Area is a great designated dispersed camping area near the White Mountain Wilderness in Lincoln National Forest. The campsites here are close enough to Bonito Lake as well as some great hiking and ATV trails in the national forest. The campsites here can accommodate just about any setup, so this is a good option if youre in an RV or pulling a trailer.
Discover The Best Free Camping Across The Usa
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America .
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, youre contributing to these lands.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site!
Well send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA . Access the list by submitting your email below:
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The Benefits Of Free Camping
Free camping has many benefits for traveling. On the top of the list is saving money! Youre not paying for the campsite so its completely FREE! Another few benefits are:
- Solitude and seclusion: You wont be seeing as many people in these free campsites compared to in a campground. I personally love this aspect of free camping as I enjoy the seclusion.
- No need to make reservations ahead of time: This can be a good benefit because it gives you the flexibility to go with the flow of your trip. You dont have to stress about booking your campsite ahead of time to beat the crowd.
- Flexibility: Without having to be on a timeline with reservations, it also grants you flexibility in your travels. If you need to stop you can stop at any of the free camp spots for the night without worrying about missing a reservation or adding days to your trip.
- Perfect for last-minute plans: Free camping is perfect for those last-minute, spur-of-the-moment trips. Sometimes you just pack up your bags and leave for the weekend. Getting a free campsite allows you to not worry about missing out on a fun destination due to not having made plans ahead of time. They are also good for emergency situations like getting a flat tire and needing to stop for the night.
Phone Apps To Find Free Camping
Phone apps are a great way to find free camping while on the road, and there are numerous apps to choose from! Here are a few of the best apps that I highly recommend for finding free camping:
- The Dyrt free 90 day trial with this link or using my code Renee90. The Pro Membership Perks include a camping road trip planner, free dispersed camping with map layers, offline access anywhere, and camping and gear discounts. You can also find free campsites on their website here.
- Free Roam free: You can also use their interactive map on their website.
- iOverlander free: You can also use their interactive map on their website.
- Campendium free : Campendium can be used both on their iPhone app and on their website here.
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Tres Piedras Dispersed Camping
The Tres Piedras dispersed camping area is located approximately 30 minutes northwest of Taos and just inside Carson National Forest. There are several great dispersed campsites if you continue further into the national forest, but the ones located on Forest Service Road 64 J are easy to access and close to services making them a good option.
Tres Piedras couldnt be easier to get to, simply take Highway 64 west until you pass the Tres Piedras Ranger Station. The next right is FSR 64 J, which as several dispersed campsites along its length.
Youre just a few minutes from some excellent climbing and the Continental Divide trail is nearby for those hoping to do some hiking. Overall, this is a wonderful part of the state and a great place for dispersed camping.
Given what a gem Tres Piedras is, please be sure to Leave No Trace and keep this forest open to dispersed camping for generations to come.
If youre looking for an incredible free campsite with stunning views of Angel Peak and the badlands, look now further than the BLM managed Angel Peak Scenic Area. Though not dispersed camping in the traditional sense, the 10 campsites here are all free and have some basic amenities such as picnic tables, a covered shelter, and access to restrooms.
If you do decide to camp here be sure to explore the surrounding Angel Peak area. The landscapes are otherworldly and not overrun with visitors, making this a classic New Mexico destination.
Our Top Camping App The Dyrt PRO
What Is Free Camping
So what exactly is free camping? Free camping is when you camp for free overnight in your camper, RV, tent, van, or even in your car. There are various different types of free camping across the United States and different names to go with each of them. Here is what you need to know:
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This Reservoir On The Canadian River Is One Of The Longest Lakes In The State At Nearly 13 Miles And Boasts A Variety Of Fun Water Sports
The campgrounds offer a variety of camping experiences, including the Yucca Campground, designed for RVs.
For Community Boat Dock Information, please contact the Park Superintendents Office at the address below.
Park Elevation 3,762 ft
Dog Canyon Dispersed Camping
Ideally located near White Sands National Park, Lincoln National Forest, and Las Cruces, Dog Canyon is a great BLM dispersed camping area in New Mexico. Youll take the road towards Oliver Lee Memorial State Park and the Oliver Lee developed campground to get here, and the camping area is located on the south side of the road before reaching the state park. This is BLM land, so dispersed camping is permitted, just dont pitch your tent too close to the developed campground.
There are no facilities at Dog Canyon, although you may be able to use the facilities at Oliver Lee. However, we wouldnt recommend counting on it since those are technically reserved for paid campers.
The views here are truly stunning and youll be treated to some incredible sunsets and sunrises at Dog Canyon. Do keep in mind that there is not water source so youll want to come prepared with all that youll need for your trip.
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Caja Del Rio Near Santa Fe
Looking for a great, wide-open spot that can fit anything from a tent to the biggest of the big rigs? And right outside of Santa Fe? Weve got you covered!
Caja Del Rio dispersed camping is part of the Santa Fe National Forest overseen by the U.S. Forest Service.
There are no amenities, but theres plenty of room to spread out. And if youre cranking the solar power, this spot is your jam when the sun is shining.
Just watch out for the directions from your GPS device. It may try to bring you in from the south, which you dont want to do. The best way to enter is from the north of the campsite. Only about 20-30 minutes away from town, its a great home base from which to explore Santa Fe.
GPS coordinates: 35.6891, -106.0942
Free Camping in New Mexico Vibes Score: 7.1/10 Try it out if youre traveling through Santa Fe.
Final Thoughts On Finding Free Campsites
I hope that this free camping guide was helpful and aids you in future trip planning. Remember to always be prepared, do your research, play it safe, and most importantly, have fun on your trip! Let me know your favorite ways to find free campsites on road trips. Cant wait to hear about your adventures!
Pin to read later!
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Paper Maps And Guide Books
You can find so much free information online about free camping but due to cell service being spotty, it is always good to have a paper map or even guidebooks on hand for when you might be off-grid. Knowing how to use a paper map is very important especially if your first plan of action fails. Here are some paper maps and guidebooks that I recommend you have on you during your road trip:
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 lifetimes 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.
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New Mexico Dispersed Camping: The Complete Guide
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.
New Mexico certainly lives up to its name as the Land of Enchantment. There is something special about the combination of desert, mountains, and some of the most rugged wilderness in the US that gives New Mexico a certain allure that cant be denied. Most of the states cities and towns have easy access to the outdoors, whether it be the Pecos Wilderness outside of Santa Fe, Cibola National Forest outside of Albuquerque, or the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces.
In our estimation, the best way to experience these unique landscapes is to spend a night out under the stars and New Mexico offers some incredible free, dispersed camping to make that happen.
This guide is designed to help you navigate the various rules and regulations and plan your perfect New Mexico dispersed camping adventure.
Historic Route 66 Roadside Stops & Campgrounds
Traveling Route 66 with a campervan rental is an iconic journey westward that combines history, nostalgia, romance and the American Dream. For generations, Route 66 was the primary road across the country to the Pacific Ocean, linking Chicago, Illinois to Southern California. Passing through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, Route 66 is firmly embedded in pop culture. It appears in classic movies like The Grapes of Wrath as well as modern flicks like the animated feature Cars and youll even find it in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. Getting your kicks on Route 66 is an American rite of passage.
Today this historic Mother Road still represents the impetus to go west and the quintessential American road trip. Dotted with old motels, neon signs, gas stations and trading posts, this funky scenic byway is the charming alternative to faster Interstate routes.
You cant drive the 2,448-mile Route 66 in its entirety anymore much of the highway has now been converted into part of the Interstate system. But you can travel along sections of the historic route, which is especially well marked through New Mexico and Arizona. This classic journey still offers plenty of quirky roadside stops and campgrounds to explore.
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Camping Near You Find A Free Campsite
Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, we’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smart phone’s GPS to find camping near you or even use our trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.
Our community provides the best free camping information available. Free campgrounds can be hard to find. Freecampsites.net makes it easy. We give you a simple, map based search engine to find free and cheap camping areas. Community reviews and ratings provide you with up to date information and help you select the best camp site for your next camping trip.
This is a platform for sharing campgrounds and camp sites you have discovered. We are community driven, and while we will be adding many free camping spots, we hope that you will add some of your favorite camping places as well. By sharing camping information freely, we can all spend less time researching campgrounds, spend less money, and more time camping. If everyone contributes a few campsites, we’ll all have more places to go camping.
Please come back and let us know what you find!
We are not actively seeking Wal-Marts, truckstops or other parking lots and will not be adding very many of these. There are enough Wal-Mart and truck stop directories out there already. However, if a member of the community finds one of these locations to be useful for overnight RV parking and creates an entry, we may approve the listing.
Please come back and let us know what you find!
Best Sites For Free Camping In New Mexico
Theres a reason to seek out the best free camping in New Mexico, chief of which is the boondocking lifestyle. Also, many people in RVs travel to New Mexico to escape the colder temperatures of northern winters.
Aside from that, there is another reason that so many RVers head to New Mexico.
The state has a ton of free camping on BLM and National Forest Service land, which is a rather freeing experience. If you like the off-the-grid lifestyle that is still often close to the conveniences of a town, New Mexico has numerous areas for you to spread your snowbird wings.
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Leave No Trace And Free Campsites
Whenever you are outdoors or traveling it is very important to always follow the Seven Leave No Trace Principles. By following these you are making sure you leave your campsite and trails looking better than before so others can enjoy them too. You can learn more in detail about Leave No Trace hereand how you can implement these seven principles in your travels. Important tips include packing out all your trash if the area where you camp does not have trash cans, disposing of pet and human waste properly, and not disturbing natural flora and fauna. Setting up your tent or camping area on durable surfaces helps to keep disruption to a minimum when youre camping in nature or the backcountry.