Guadalupe Ranger District, Lincoln National Forest

Learn about camping and boondocking on lands managed by Guadalupe Ranger District of Lincoln National Forest

Dispersed Camping Near Carlsbad, NM

Dispersed Camping Near Carlsbad, NM


Completely surrounded by public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service (USFS), and the National Park Service (NPS), there are numerous places around the City of Carlsbad, NM where campers can set up for a couple of weeks while visiting Carlsbad Caverns, Sitting Bull Falls, or just visiting friends and relatives.

Eight Free Camping Areas Near Carlsbad, NM

The following free camping areas and dispersed campsites near Carlsbad, NM were personally camped by ourselves, or researched from accounts by other boondockers who camped in this area…

Avalon Lake(5.7 miles to downtown Carlsbad) – Located just north of the city limits, Avalon Lake is a reservoir along the Pecos River, owned by the US Bureau of Reclamation and managed by Carlsbad Irrigation District. The south shore of the lake is open for recreation, including free camping up to 14 days. There’s plenty of room here, enough for dozens of full-sized RVs, with breathtaking views of Avalon Lake.

Read, “Avalon Lake, Carlsbad, NM

Dark Canyon Road – (12.3 miles to downtown Carlsbad) – Located south of the city, Dark Canyon Road (also known as County Road 408) branches off of US-62 about a mile south of the Carlsbad Port of Entry. The road runs west of US-62 and heads into patches of BLM land where there is a section with a designated parking area and a few previously-used campsites.

Read “Dark Canyon Road, Carlsbad, NM

Goat Corral Canyon(16.3 miles to downtown Carlsbad) – Located south of the city, this is an unmarked road that wanders into BLM land in area historically known as Goat Corral Canyon. There are about a half-dozen previously-used campsites along this road. While the road is actively used by trucks serving the oil and gravel industries, it offers a pretty view of the Carlsbad city lights at night.

Read “Goat Corral Canyon, Carlsbad, NM

Hackberry Lake South(23 miles to downtown Carlsbad) – Located northeast of the city, this is a developed campground offered for free by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its Hackberry Lake OHV Recreation Area. There are eight campsites here with shaded picnic tables and fire rings, as well as a vault toilet and trash cans. Get here during mid-week because it gets crowded on weekends.

Read “Hackberry Lake South, Carlsbad, NM

Sunset Reef Campground(26 miles to downtown Carlsbad) – Located south of the city, this is a developed campground offered for free by the Bureau of Land Management. It’s lies on the west side of US-62, about 3/4 mile from the highway. There are six campsites for full-sized RVs, and another six for tent campers, all with shaded picnic tables and fire rings, and a vault toilet and trash dumpster.

Read, “Sunset Reef Campground, Carlsbad, NM

Chosa Campground(27 miles to downtown Carlsbad) – Located just a mile south of Sunset Reef Campground (above), this is another developed campground offered for free by the Bureau of Land Management. This campground does not offer any of the amenities as Sunset Reef, but does offer a larger camping area, enough for a few dozen full-sized RVs if they all cooperate.

Read “Chosa Campground, Carlsbad, NM

Hackberry Lake North(28 miles to downtown Carlsbad) – Located northeast of the city, this is another developed campground offered for free by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its Hackberry Lake OHV Recreation Area. There are twelve campsites here with shaded picnic tables and fire rings, as well as a vault toilet and trash cans. Get here during mid-week because it gets crowded on weekends.

Read “Hackberry Lake North, Carlsbad, NM

Sitting Bull Falls Road(41.7 miles to downtown Carlsbad) – Located southwest of the city, this is a road running into Lincoln National Forest, ending at a day-use area centered around a popular waterfall and swimming hole. There are four previously-used dispersed campsites along this road with no amenities. You can camp here up to 14 days for free. You only have to pay when entering the day-use area at the end.

Read “Sitting Bull Falls Road, Queens, NM

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