Dispersed Camping Near Reserve, NM

Reserve Ranger District

Home New Mexico Dispersed Camping Near Reserve, NM

Where to Find Boondocking Near Reserve, NM

Updated:

No Comments

There are several free camping areas operated by Gila National Forest within a short drive to Reserve, NM and nearby attractions. These camping areas offer some modern amenities, including restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, and trash cans. All are “first-come, first-serve”, with no fees and no permits required. They also allow you to remain camped there up to 14 days.

Free Camping Near Reserve, NM

The following free camping areas were either camped by us personally, or recommended by other veteran campers…

Apache Creek Campground(12.6 miles to downtown Reserve) – This is a free, developed campground with ten campsites, three of which have shade structures. There are perhaps five more previously-used campsites with no amenities. Entrance to Apache Creek Campground is located directly across the highway from Apache Creek Store on the corner of Highways 12 and 32. About a mile away is “Walk in the Past Trailhead” which leads to petroglyphs.

Read, “Apache Creek Campground, Reserve, NM

Cottonwood Campground(12.9 miles to downtown Reserve) – This is a small, free, developed campground on the west side of US Highway 180, between mileposts 23 and 24, north of Glenwood and Alma, New Mexico. At one time this was a popular hang out for locals to go skinny-dipping in the hot springs located about 1/4 mile up the canyon. Since then, the road was closed, and now few people ever go there. Otherwise today, it’s just a small campground for tent campers with cars, vans, and pickup trucks. The campground is too small for motorhomes, though small trailers can still fit in.

Read, “Cottonwood Campground, Reserve, NM

Pueblo Park Campground(17.7 miles to downtown Reserve) – This is a free, developed campground has as many as 10 campsites with fire rings, but with the possibility of more dispersed camping areas nearby. This is a remote campground that sees few campers during the busy part of the year. Pueblo Park Campground is located in a large, cool stand of old growth Ponderosa pines adjacent to the northern edge of the Blue Range Wilderness boundary.

Read, “Pueblo Park Campground, Reserve, NM

Head of the Ditch Campground(22.5 miles to downtown Reserve) – This is a free, developed campground with plenty of room for several full-sized RVs. It has a large open area and shady campsites with pine, oak, cottonwood, and willow trees. There is also room for dozens of tent sites in the main area of the campground. Head of the Ditch Campground fills up fast during the Luna Pioneer Days and Rodeo weekend (usually the third weekend of July).

Read, “Head of the Ditch Campground, Luna, NM

Cosmic Campground(23.7 miles to downtown Reserve) – This is a free, developed campground with eight back-in sites large enough for full-sized RVs, including an additional four to five tent sites too. There are four circular concrete pads for setting up telescope tripods to watch and photograph the night sky. Cosmic Campground International Dark Sky Sanctuary (CCIDSS) is the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary located on National Forest System lands and also in North America. It is also one of only 14 certified IDA Sanctuaries in the world.

Read, “Cosmic Campground, Glenwood, NM

Bighorn Campground(36.6 miles to downtown Reserve) – This is a free, developed campground with six campsites, each with picnic table and fire ring. One site is large enough for 40+ foot sized trailer or motorhome. Two other sites are suitable for mid-sized RVs, and others for smaller vehicles. Bighorn Campground is a convenient location along US Highway 180. It’s the closest designated campground to the Catwalk National Recreation Area, and is within a 30 minute drive to the Mogollon ghost town area.

Read, “Bighorn Campground, Glenwood, NM

Valle Tio Vinces Campground(37.7 miles to downtown Reserve) – This is a small, free, developed campground with four designated campsites, but dispersed camping is allowed throughout here. It’s primarily used by local mountain bikers and horseback riders, but is also a stopping point for hikers along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. There are also horse corrals for equestrians looking for a place to camp.

Read, “Valle Tio Vinces Campground, Quemado, NM

Armijo Springs Campground(39.4 miles to downtown Reserve) – This is a free, developed campground with five sites with picnic tables and fire rings. Dispersed camping is also allowed here. This campground is large enough for full-sized RVs, while the road seems firm enough for any vehicle. 4WD is not required, except during wet conditions. Armijo Springs Campground offers a secluded camping experience under tall Ponderosa pine, and doesn’t see many visitors, even during the high point of the summer.

Read, “Armijo Springs Campground, Quemado, NM

El Caso Campgrounds(45.6 miles to downtown Reserve) – This is a series of five, free, designated dispersed campgrounds located along Forest Road 13, about 1.5 miles east of Quemado Lake. All five El Caso campgrounds are grouped within a 0,5 mile distance together. They are nestled in a valley stretching alongside an intermittent stream and are surrounded by Ponderosa pine and Cottonwood trees. These campgrounds are popular with hunters, groups, and campers desiring a more primitive camping experience.

Read, “El Caso Campgrounds, Quemado, NM

Associated Documents

Gila National Forest Order 03-06-00-23-004, Occupancy rules, maximum camping limits, (eff: May 19, 2023, term: May 18, 2025)
Motor Vehicle Use Map, Quemado, Reserve, & Glenwood Ranger Districts, Page 2, Illustrates dispersed camping restrictions & OHV restrictions, (eff: January 1, 2023)
Motor Vehicle Use Map, Quemado, Reserve, & Glenwood Ranger Districts, Page 1, Illustrates dispersed camping restrictions & OHV restrictions, (eff: January 1, 2023)

Leave a Comment