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There’s plenty of public land in New Mexico, and the dispersed camping is some of the best in the country. From national forests to BLM lands, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding free camping spots. This guide will focus on a few of my favorite spots for free camping near Las Cruces, New Mexico.
This New Mexico city has long been a stop-over on my longer trips between Central Texas and the West Coast. With so much private land over the border in Texas, it’s one of the final places to find free camping before heading into the Lone Star state.
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Free Camping Near Las Cruces, New Mexico
Keep in mind that most places that offer free camping don’t provide amenities like vault toilets, picnic tables, or drinking water. This is why having a self-sufficient RV, like a camper van, can really expand your camping options. Or, if you’re like me, explore options for outfitting your truck camper.
Sierra Vista Dispersed Camping
GPS Coordinates: 32.31842086178611, -106.63086213320751
Sierra Vista is on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management and is located roughly 20 minutes east of town. There aren’t many pull-through sites for RV camping on this piece of BLM land, and the sites aren’t private.
But what it lacks in terms of privacy, it makes up for in its convenience. You’ll have good cell reception here with most major cell phone carriers and it provides easy access.
I personally like it because you get the Organ Mountains as your backdrop and you’re elevated enough to look over the entire urban area to the west. Watch the sunset turn the mountains a variety of colors as it dips toward the horizon across the valley.
And if you have a 4×4 vehicle with higher clearance, there are several additional accessible sites on the Sierra Vista Back Side. This area offers more true dispersed camping, but it’s not accessible for low, two-wheel-drive vehicles.
Dripping Springs Dispersed Camping
GPS Coordinates: 32.330230856266205, -106.61224243468386
Also on the west side of the Organ Mountains, the Dripping Springs dispersed camping area is located about 10 miles east of town. From Interstate 25, take Exit 1 and then turn east onto University Road/Dripping Springs Road. Follow it to the end, where you’ll find the entrance to these free campsites.
This free camping spot is close to the La Cueva Trail if you’re of the mind to get a little hike in during your stay. The sites do have fire rings and there’s a lot of space between sites, so you won’t feel crowded next to other campers. The campground is in fire zone 112, so be sure to check fire restrictions before your visit.
Users have dubbed it “quiet and convenient,” and it’s close to the Dripping Springs Natural Area for good hiking trails. Just be mindful that this campground offers little to no shade, so you’ll have to bring your own with one of the best campervan awnings for boondocking in New Mexico.
The natural area is a beautiful combination of desert scrub and low-elevation pinion-juniper and oak woodlands. No matter the time of year you visit, you’ll have excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, including chances to see red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, and Gimbel’s quail.
Gap Tank Dispersed Free Camping
GPS Coordinates: 31.897151984113776, -107.06105274694791
This “lonely desert” campground is located majestically in the gap between the Eastern Potrillo Mountain Range and Mount Riley (hence its name!). It lies on public lands managed by the BLM and within the boundaries of Desert Peaks National Monument.
It’s a very primitive area for free camping near Las Cruces, New Mexico, which means little shade and certainly no pit toilet. This site also requires traversing a rough road that will take you close to the border of Mexico. That means it’s probably not suited to big rigs, and most RVs should avoid it in general, unless they’re equipped with four-wheel-drive and high clearance.
This campsite’s location is actually closer to El Paso (about 1.5 hours) than it is to the last big city in New Mexico (~2 hours). So keep that in mind. Still, it’s a truly dispersed campground that’s excellent for those looking to explore more of the national monument.
The monument encompasses a wide range of habitats from the Chihuahuan Desert to ponderosa pine forests at higher elevations. The Dripping Springs Visitor’s Center is the best place to get up-to-date information before trekking out to this secluded spot for boondocking in New Mexico.
B059 BLM Land Free Camping
GPS Coordinates: 32.21013705590772, -106.61473041202322
Another site on the more than 5.4 million acres managed by the BLM’s LC District Office in New Mexico, this site is accessed via Exit 151 (Mesquite) off Interstate 10. The road is roughly six miles from the interstate to the campground.
According to users, the road condition is broken down as such:
- First 2 miles = blacktop
- Next 2 miles = gravel road about 2.5 vehicles wide
- Final 2 miles = gravel road about 1 vehicle wide
The initial four sites are accessible to lower clearance vehicles, but you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle with higher clearance if you want to camp further back. In terms of location, this site is about 35 minutes south of the Sierra Vista free campsite.
Due to that close proximity to large cities in New Mexico and Texas, don’t be surprised if you find several sites with big rigs and side-by-sides to explore rougher roads. That said, there are plenty of campsite options, so you shouldn’t have a tough time finding a spot.
From here, you’ll also be able to access hiking trails up into the mountains of southern New Mexico. In terms of wildlife, don’t be surprised if you see quail, doves, cattle, and much more. This area is one of the most biologically and recreationally diverse regions for boondocking in New Mexico.
Baylor Pass West Trailhead
GPS Coordinates: 32.3913, -106.614
The Baylor Pass West campsite is located a little way north of the Dripping Springs camp and roughly due west from Baylor Peak. If you’re into hiking, one of the main draws of setting your RV up here is the chance to explore the moderate trail up to Baylor Peak.
It’s an 8.6-mile out-and-back adventure, so RV camping on public land the night before your hike will help you get an early start and beat the New Mexico heat. Just be aware that, otherwise, this is a spot for day hikers to park.
It offers no amenities like a picnic table, fire ring, or vault toilet, but it might be all you need for a quick stop if your RV trip is taking you on Highway 70 towards White Sands National Park.
The final two locations on our list for boondocking in New Mexico have yet to be reviewed on the Dyrt, which means they’re perfect for you to explore and provide feedback so we can all learn more about the best free camping New Mexico offers.
Corralitos Road Dispersed Camping
GPS Coordinates: 32.26386184547268, -107.00893073338005
The next of our locations for free camping in New Mexico is less than 10 minutes west of the international airport. It’s right off Interstate 10, which makes it ideal if you want to get through the city and find a place to crash before hitting the road early to continue your journey west.
The initial part of the camp is wide enough for large RVs to turn around, but you can get more privacy if you head a little further up the road. On the map, it appears this road continues for several miles north of the interstate, but it’s hard to know precisely what road conditions will be when you visit.
Baylor Canyon Road Spur
GPS Coordinates: 32.34434249672327, -106.61208271925942
The last of our camping locations for free camping near Las Cruces, New Mexico is another that doesn’t provide amenities, and it might be one of the toughest to get to, besides Gap Tank. The dirt road spur that runs east and then parallels the main Baylor Canyon Road offers a few pull-out for free camping in New Mexico.
Most of the pull-outs are located towards the northern end of the spur. The spur can be accessed from the north or south, but going in from the north will offer the shortest drive on unpaved, and possibly unmaintained, road.
Conclusion on Free Camping Near Las Cruces, New Mexico
Free campsites in New Mexico national forests and on public lands are great alternatives to paying for camping at national parks and national monuments. While they may not offer the same amenities, they’re certainly more affordable than what many campsites in the national parks and private RV parks are charging these days.
But, if you are willing to spend a little on low-cost camping, places like Leasburg Dam State Park and Gila Hot Springs are worth checking out. Here are a couple of links to check out:
There are also a number of campsites managed by the forest service throughout New Mexico. For more information on camping in the national forests in the state, you’ll want to search for the specific forest you’re interested in, such as Santa Fe National Forest, Lincoln National Forest, and Gila National Forest.
Here’s are some links to help you continue your research:
- Santa Fe National Forest: https://www.fs.usda.gov/santafe/
- Gila National Forest: https://www.fs.usda.gov/gila/
- Lincoln National Forest: https://www.fs.usda.gov/lincoln
I hope you’ve enjoyed this collection of places for free camping near Las Cruces, New Mexico. If you’re traveling east from here, I definitely recommend taking advantage of the boondocking sites in the southern part of the state before you’re forced to find state park camping and private campgrounds further east.
Stay tuned for more free campsites in the northern part of New Mexico!