Sometimes the urge to head outdoors strikes when you least expect it. Perhaps you’ve had a last-minute change of plans or a cancellation (or you are playing hooky from work) — there’s no telling when you’ll be ready to grab your tent and head into the great outdoors. Luckily for you, New Mexico has plenty of camping spots just waiting – no reservations required.
1. Apache Creek (Reserve)
Apache Creek Campground is a first-come, first-served campground near Reserve. This undeveloped Gila Forest campground is quiet and shady. It has toilets but you'll need to pack in water and maybe some extra toilet paper. Enjoy the ponderosa pines, fire rings, and tree-trunk tables at the sites. Look for a nearby trail to a petroglyph site.
2. El Caso (Quemado)
The El Caso Campgrounds (I-III) are partially developed campgrounds located at the east end of Quemado Lake. Cottonwoods and ponderosa pines provide shade. Seasonally, a stream runs through the campground. The primitive sites are first come, first served. There is a vault toilet. Bring your own water. The short hike to the lake is worth the trade-off for free camping.
3. Jacks Creek (Pecos)
The grassy campground at Jack's Creek has 39 spots, but the site is heavily used, so grab your space early. The camp is popular for good reason. It is a great base for exploration of the Pecos Wilderness and all its beauty. There are toilets, tables, and grills. The camp is ok for RVs and trailers but there are no hookups or dumps stations.
4. James Canyon (Mayhill)
Five sites are up for grabs at the tiny James Canyon Campground. Because of its lower elevation, the campground is open longer than other sites in the Sacramento Mountain area. The spaces are suitable for RVs up to 16 -feet. Amenities include picnic tables and grills.
5. Oak Grove (Ruidoso)
Enjoy views of Sierra Blanca peak from your meadow campsite liberally sprinkled with trees. The Oak Grove Campground, in the Lincoln National Forest, has 30 campsites complete with picnic tables and fire pits. Toilets and drinking water are on site.
6. Ojo Redondo (Thoreau)
Drive right up to this Cibola National Forest campground. Ojo Redondo is located near Mt. Sedgwick, the highest peak in the Zuni Mountains. There are 15 sites here tucked among ponderosa pines, Douglas firs, and aspen. Amenities include picnic tables and a toilet. This campsite is about 45 miles past Bluewater Lake, on New Mexico State Highway 612.
7. El Porvenir (Las Vegas)
If hiking Hermit's Peak is on your list, El Porvenir, in the Pecos Wilderness, (accessed from Las Vegas) could be a great camping choice. It's neatly situated at the base of the Peak, near Beaver Creek. There are 13 sites here with picnic tables, fire rings, and vault toilets.
8. Vista Linda
Vista Linda really has a "pretty view." This campground in the Jemez has awesome red rock canyon and mesa views. There are 13 camping sites here, but Vista Linda is another place where you need to mark your campsite early. The site is heavily used. There is drinking water here. Paved access makes the site suitable for RVs and trailers too.
Which of these campsites have you checked out? Did we leave any of your favorite “no reservation” campgrounds off our list? We’re always eager to hear your thoughts and suggestions, so leave them in the comment section below.
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.