The New Mexico State Land Office does not permit “recreational camping” on its trust lands. But, it does support camping for hunting purposes, in limited areas.
Because most state trust lands are leased to other persons and organizations, permission must be obtained from the lessee before entering. If you have obtained a Hunting License, that license grants you permission to enter. Camping is restricted to areas designated by the lessee.
There is also a new pilot program beginning in 2020 where you are allowed to disperse camp in the Luera Mountains and in the White Peak area (see “Special Pilot Program Dispersed Camping” below).
Camping on New Mexico State Trust Lands
The State of New Mexico owns more than 9.2 million acres of State Trust Land.
About 98% of these lands are currently leased to ranchers, farmers, and other organizations. In order to set foot on leased lands, you must obtain permission from the lessee. If however, you have purchased a Hunting License, that license already grants you an easement on to those lands without having to obtain prior permission.
- A hunting license is obtained from the New Mexico Game & Fish Department.
- License fees vary based on the type of hunting license. A general Game Hunting License (valid for small game only) costs $15.00 for NM residents, and $65.00 for out of state residents.
The State Land Office does not support camping for recreational purposes. Any camping on trust lands is seen as an adjunct to hunting. Camping is restricted to areas that land lessees have designated for camping.
Special Pilot Program Dispersed Camping
Beginning in 2020, the State Land Office began a pilot program where dispersed camping is permitted in two particular areas of the state…
- White Peak Area
- Luera Mountains (backpack camping only)
In both areas, you must first obtain a Pilot Program Permit from the State Land Office, and a Hunting License from the New Mexico Game & Fish Department. Because of this pilot program status, persons who have obtained both the permit and hunting license, may freely camp anywhere in these areas without having to obtain other prior permission.
For updated information about this pilot program, along with maps, visit the State Land Office Pilot Program Page
Where to Find Camping on New Mexico State Trust Lands
Camping is allowed in designated camping areas for hunters …
- Interactive Map of Hunting Accesses and Campgrounds on Leased Lands
- Special Pilot Program Camping Areas
- All State Trust Lands Map (PDF) (lands marked in blue)
- Download the New Mexico CarryMap Application (for Android and iPhone devices)
As long as you camp in designated hunting accesses and campgrounds, and you have obtained a hunting license, you’re generally safe for camping.
The State Land Office issues “recreational permits” for limited day-use activities. These permits may not be used for camping. Day-use activities is largely limited to hiking. No shooting, digging, off-highway vehicles, rock collecting, or removal of any natural or unnatural objects are permitted.
A Recreational Permit does not grant you an easement on to leased lands, unlike a Hunting License. You must still obtain permission from the lessee to enter leased lands.
Recreational permits cost $35.00 each, and may be obtained online at: https://openforadventure.nmstatelands.org/
Rules for Camping on New Mexico State Trust Lands
Rules for camping generally follow the same rules for hunting. Below are the primary rules…
- You may only camp during the hunting season applicable to the type of hunting license you acquire
- Your vehicle must remain on established state and county roads. Off-road use is prohibited.
- Campfires rules generally follow the same rules issued by New Mexico State Forestry.