Carson National Forest Camping Guide

Carson National Forest Camping Guide

There are 154 nationwide forests within the United States, all of that are greater than worthy tenting locations! However, there’s one thing really particular about tenting in Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico — they name New Mexico the Land of Enchantment for a very good purpose!

This nationwide forest is a must-visit in any season. Keep studying to study what to anticipate in your Carson National Forest tenting journey.

Fall color along a river in northern New Mexico.
Fall shade in northern New Mexico.

What to Expect in Carson National Forest

There are six ranger districts within the Carson National Forest: Camino Real, El Rito, Canjilon, Jicarilla, Questa, and Tres Piedras.

Different ranger districts have several types of tenting; as an illustration, solely two enable for distant (or dispersed) tenting.

You will need to verify hearth restrictions earlier than your journey, notably should you plan on distant tenting.

There are two different guidelines to recollect when distant tenting in Carson National Forest: first, you aren’t allowed to chop down timber or pull down branches for firewood.

Second, you can not depart your campfire unattended, even whether it is down to only embers. It should be put out fully earlier than you head house.

(One exception: you might be allowed to chop your personal firewood within the Tres Piedras Ranger District. However, you’ll want a fuelwood allow.)

Camping in Carson National Forest

A sign for Carson National Forest after a snowfall. Carson National Forest camping.

What to Consider Before Booking

The largest factor to find out is what facilities you’ll want when tenting in Carson National Forest earlier than reserving your website!

Not all websites are outfitted with electrical, sewer, or water hookup. Some campgrounds supply showers and fashionable bathrooms; others don’t. Some have entry to potable water; others don’t. We recommend writing down an inventory of your “must haves” earlier than looking for your campsite!

If you’re planning to distant camp, you’ve gotten extra choices for tenting areas. Your largest problem might be getting ready for the New Mexico climate in your chosen spot!

Best Seasons to Visit

The greatest instances to plan a Carson National Forest tenting journey are early summer time or early fall.

Mid-to-late summer time climate leans a bit hotter; when it’s not sizzling, it’s wet. Neither one makes for excellent mountaineering and tenting climate!

Winter isn’t supreme, both. Temperatures can plunge to properly under zero later in winter. Snow can begin early, so keep away from planning a visit any later than September!

If you select to go to within the winter, come ready and educate your self on staying heat and secure. As you’ll see in our weblog put up, winter tenting is an entire totally different beast!

However, should you’re able to courageous the chilly, Carson National Forest affords loads of enjoyable alternatives for winter campers.

Best Spots for RV Camping

One of the most effective spots for RV tenting in Carson National Forest is Canjilon Lakes Campground in Camino Real Ranger District.

This campground is a surprising place to park your RV, permitting direct entry to the forest. However, the websites don’t embrace any hookups.

Another incredible place for RV tenting is Angel Fire RV Resort. If you’re all proper about staying a bit additional out from the precise forest, it is a lovely resort to spend time in.

Angel Fire RV Resort has all the fashionable facilities you would hope for when RV tenting. There are full hookups, free Wi-Fi, and far more to get pleasure from!

Best Spots for Group Camping

The greatest spot for group tenting in Carson National Forest is Agua Piedra Campground!

This campground affords two group tenting website; one which accommodates 50 folks, one other that accommodates 100.

Best Spots for Remote Camping

You can camp nearly anyplace within the Carson National Forest, so long as you don’t settle too near established campgrounds.

A tent campsite near sunset.

However, you have to to discover a spot to park your automobile. If you’re staying in Questa Ranger District, there might be parking obtainable on the Valle Vidal Unit.

You can all the time park your automobile in Valle Vidal and hike your option to your tenting vacation spot, even when it’s outdoors Questa!

Best Spots for Cabin Camping

Though the title may be deceptive, Road Runner RV Resort is definitely among the best locations for cabin tenting in Carson National Forest!

The Waters Edge Cabin is an exquisite little cabin that gives fashionable facilities alongside a river view.

You’ll discover this cabin outfitted with a kitchen, cable TV, an oven, and even wifi!

Things to Do


There are hikes for all expertise ranges obtainable when tenting in Carson National Forest.

If you’re an inexperienced hiker on the lookout for an extended journey, strive the Red River Nature Trail.

If you’re up for a much bigger problem however not fairly prepared for an intense hike, strive Chimney Rock Trail. You may even deliver your furry relations alongside for this hike!

If you’re seeking to really take a look at your mountaineering mettle, take the path to Sheepshead Peak!

Horseback Riding

If you favor to discover the Carson National Forest on 4 legs as an alternative of two, you’re in luck. There are many trails the place horses are welcome.

You can both deliver your personal horse alongside and reap the benefits of equine tenting choices, or you may guide a guided tour in sure areas.

Agua Piedra Campground in Camino Real Ranger District has a horse corral on website. Another place that gives guided excursions is Roadrunner Tours, which is situated close to Questa Ranger District.

In truth, should you select to remain at Angel Fire RV Resort, you’ll be situated very shut to those leases!

Mountain Biking

Most trails enable for mountain biking in Carson National Forest; simply watch out! More standard trails can get crowded and find yourself being treacherous to traverse by bike.

Fishing and Hunting

You can fish and hunt throughout your Carson National Forest looking journey, however sure hunts require further permits.

Permits to hunt turkey can be found on a vast foundation. To hunt sure large sport, corresponding to Bighorn Sheep, there’s a drawing carried out for a restricted variety of permits.

Fishing is far more accessible. You will want a fishing license, however these aren’t restricted.

Carson National Forest tenting is a incredible alternative for trout fishers! You’ll discover many species of trout on this forest’s waters, together with brown, rainbow, and Rio Grande Cutthroat.

Winter Activities

If you’re a snowboarding fanatic, you’ll need to expertise Carson National Forest tenting within the winter.

Not solely that, however there are alternatives for snowboarding, snowmobiling, sledding, and even snow tubing!

If you’ve by no means tried tubing within the snow, it’s positively totally different. Think of it as a extra distinctive model of sledding.

You use an inflated tube as an alternative of a sled to go down the hill. These tubes go sooner than your common sled, so watch out! You would possibly even need to put on a helmet, simply in case.

The greatest locations to expertise Carson National Forest winter actions are in Camino Real Ranger District and Questa Ranger District.

In Camino Real Ranger District, you’ll discover the US Hill Snow Play Area; in Questa, you’ll discover the Enchanted Forest Snowplay Area.


There are many creatures that decision the Carson National Forest their house…all awe-inspiring, however some extra harmful than others.

This consists of black bears and cougars, which require sure security practices.

Cougars are much less more likely to strategy your campsite, notably in additional populated campgrounds. However, you’ll need to guarantee any pets keep inside or with you always; by no means depart them unattended.

Bear security practices embrace cooking your meals removed from the place you sleep should you’re tenting outdoors of established campgrounds, storing your meals correctly, and disposing of your trash correctly.

Another mammal you would possibly encounter on a hike is the Bighorn Sheep!

These sheep are notably prolific within the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area and the Pecos Wilderness Area. They’re not notably shy, so you’ve gotten a very good likelihood of recognizing a number of!

Make Sure To Bring

When heading out in your Carson National Forest tenting journey, be sure you deliver:

  • Sunscreen
  • Rain gear
  • Clothing for all climate varieties
  • Bug spray
  • Food storage containers
  • Fishing gear and license

Enjoy Your Carson National Forest Camping Trip!

View of Echo Amphitheater in Carson National Forest in New Mexico.
Echo Amphitheater.

No matter the way you select to discover this beautiful vacation spot, you received’t remorse tenting in Carson National Forest.

For extra nationwide forest tenting guides, be sure you go to our National Forest web page subsequent!


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