11 Must See Dispersed Camping Near Albuquerque, New Mexico

Last Updated on September 20, 2023 by

There are several reasons to seek out the best free camping near Albuquerque, New Mexico, the most important of which is the dispersed camping lifestyle.

In addition, many individuals go to New Mexico in RVs to escape the severe northern winters.

Apart from that, there’s another reason why RVers flock to New Mexico.

Free camping is available on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and National Forest Service land throughout the state, which is a liberating experience.

If you want an off-the-grid existence while yet being close to the amenities of a city, New Mexico has a variety of places where you may spread your snowbird wings.

Dispersed Camping Near Albuquerque, New Mexico
Credits: Bearfoot Theory
Here are the Best Dispersed Camping near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

What are the Best Dispersed Camping Near Albuquerque?

1. West Mesa Road Dispersed Camping

West Mesa Road dispersed camping is a hidden gem, just southeast of Albuquerque. It’s not at a huge distance from the highway, but it is far enough to feel alone.

The easy access to surrounding mountain bikes and hiking trails is what actually makes West Mesa one of the top free campsites in New Mexico.

Just a little down the road is an equestrian (horseback riding) campground where you can get water and dump your tanks.

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If that’s not enough, you’re only about an hour away from Roswell, which is home to the International UFO Museum and Research Center. Put on your space suit!

2. Turquoise Trail Campground

Only 15 minutes from Albuquerque, the Turquoise Trail Campground is set in the cool woodlands of the Sandia Mountains.

The campground is on the magnificent Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway (NM Highway 14), which runs between Albuquerque and Santa Fe and is a popular tourist destination.

3. Dispersed Camping off FS 542

This dispersed camping area is a fantastic place to visit. There are numerous sites marked by numerous signs and fire rings. Some of the locations there are more accessible than others.

Be prepared to travel on a strewn-together road.

It is not recommended that you access this if you are driving a small sedan or towing something that is difficult to maneuver. You’ll almost certainly need four-wheel drive and some ground clearance.

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There’s no running water or an outhouse, so it’s rough camping. Turn left after passing the group camping site. It’s also a great hiking spot in the area, and it appears to be safe.

Cars and dirt biking can be heard in the distance, but the activities finish around 7 p.m., making for a quiet night. You’ll enjoy it a lot.

4. Ojo Redondo Campground

Mount Sedgwick, the highest mountain in the Zuni Mountains, is located southwest of the Ojo Redondo campground.

The campground is surrounded by ponderosa pine, aspen, and Douglas fir trees with a picturesque meadow near it.

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Due to the elevation and moisture, be aware of road conditions.

5. The Cibola National Forest

The Cibola National Forest is 1,625,000 acres in size and is located in west-central New Mexico.

There are 18 established campgrounds, with eight meetings the criteria for inclusion.

One might believe that with highways crisscrossing the Cibola National Forest’s scattered areas, there isn’t much enjoyment to be had. Don’t be fooled.

Apart from the pure pleasure of watching the seasons change, the Cibola National Forest offers a variety of camping options, from the most developed to “throw-down” dispersed style campgrounds and hikes through stunning landscapes, fishing, etc., and ancient site exploration.

6. McGaffey Campground

This campground is located near McGaffey, which was formerly a historic railroad logging and sawmill community.

McGaffey Campground, situated at the height of 7,900 feet and west of the Continental Divide within the Zuni Mountains, was established in 1937.

It is the largest campground in the Mt. Taylor Ranger District, with a volunteer host on hand. Small hills provide some privacy, while ponderosa pine trees offer a scenic environment and shade.

To get to the Oso and Page sites of night, continue past the entrance and stick to the right.

Before leaving the main road, remember to pay attention to the road conditions and the capabilities of your vehicle.

As you go around the entire area, kindly have respect for the historical heritage.

7. Water Canyon Campground

Water Canyon Campground is a casually used developed campground near Magdalena, New Mexico, that is still free to use.

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Hiking trails continue along the campground and the seasonal stream, which is located at an altitude of 7,000 feet at the base of the Magdalena Mountains.

The little brook in Water Canyon has a bit of water flowing through it during normal climate circumstances (the territory is presently facing a severe drought).

A plethora of various birds thrive here, as well as mule deer and other desert species seeking water via the canyon.

Giant cottonwood trees give shade in the lower campground, while junipers and pion may provide shade in the top campground.

There are both group and family sites to choose from. Further along the unpaved forest roads, dispersed camping is permitted.

8. Red Canyon Campground

The Red Canyon Campground has 38 camping spots.

It is a well-shaded campground located at an elevation of 7,600 feet.

This campground (38 units + 11 picnic sites in the lower loop) is a convenient route to go into the Manzano Wilderness on foot or horseback via the Red and Spruce Canyon paths. Horse trailer corrals and parking.

This campground is available for daily usage or overnight camping. There is no water access.

This campground does not allow recreational vehicles (RVs) that are longer than 22 feet. Vehicles of this size are only allowed to park at Ox Canyon Trailhead, 1.5 miles to the south of Red Canyon Campground.

9. The Fourth of July Canyon Campground

The Cibola National Forest within the Manzano Mountains, merely towards the southeast of Albuquerque, is home to the Fourth of July Canyon Campground.

The location attracts visitors the entire year, but it is most densely occupied during the summer.

Fourth of July Canyon, on the other hand, is a magnet in the fall for tourists looking for the deep reds and oranges associated with the season.

It’s a pleasant delight to drive out to the Manzano Mountains in the fall to witness the changing foliage. The journey takes only over an hour and is very pleasant.

It is difficult to predict the time when the leaves will change color, and many people call the ranger station to inquire, but the show can start anywhere from mid-September to late October.

It is dependent on the temperature in the Manzano Mountains. As the colder, the weather becomes, the faster the leaves change.

There are 24 sites at the campsite but no water hookups. At the campground, there is a trailhead. Although the road is really not built, most cars, as well as motorhomes, can navigate it.

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10. New Canyon Campground

The Cibola National Forest’s New Canyon Campground is located in Mountainair, New Mexico. Expect to be surrounded by juniper, ponderosa pine, and Gambel oak trees, as well as the fresh, crisp air that is accompanied by a dense and beautiful forest.

Hike or mountain bike the short but spectacular Coal Mine Natural Trail, or build your own path through the trees.

Picnicking, cave exploration, and stargazing are also on the agenda. This is a fantastic area to move away from it all and get to have a tranquil, relaxed holiday.

There are open and forested sites available but no RV connections; nonetheless, water and restrooms are available.

At the New Canyon Campground, you’ll have a wonderful time.

11. Albuquerque KOA Journey Campground

The KOA campground is located near the Sandia Mountains, just off Historic Route 66.

Even if you’re seeking huge rig-friendly 75-foot RV spots, cottages, or just tent camping, this campsite has everything.

There’s a pool, an indoor hot tub, mini-golf, a playground, and four pet parks.

During your camping trip, there will be much to do. The globe’s lengthiest aerial tramway is nearby, as is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Also. KOA is the nearest campground to the Expo New Mexico Fairgrounds.

The campground is also close to several restaurants, as well as the aquarium, zoo, a number of museums, and the famous Old Town shopping district.


This article has compiled a list of all the suitable options for dispersed camping near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

All you need to do now is to pick a location for your next dispersed camping adventure.

We recommend that you check the official websites of all the spots listed in this article before making up your mind.


Is dispersed camping allowed in New Mexico?

Dispersed camping is generally permitted on public lands in New Mexico for no more than 14 days in each 28-day period. All National Wilderness Preservation System units maintained by the BLM in New Mexico allow camping.

Are BLM lands open in New Mexico?

All BLM areas in New Mexico are available for backcountry camping, angling, trekking, rock collecting, and sport shooting unless otherwise notified.

Are you allowed to camp on state land in New Mexico?

On its trust properties, The State Land Office of New Mexico prohibits recreational camping. However, camping for hunting purposes is permitted in certain areas.

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About Ted Mosby

I am Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a Freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. I own a Forest River Berkshire XLT Diesel 45A Class A Motorhome. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.