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17 White Sands National Park Boondocking & Free Camping Sites

White Sands National Park in New Mexico: Sledding & Hiking Alkali Flats in One Day

White Sands National Park boondocking is not like any other free camping place on earth. One of the great natural wonders of the world, the sparkling white sands of New Mexico, rise from the Tularosa Basin. The largest gypsum dunefield in the world has been formed by enormous, wave-like sand dunes that have swallowed 275 square miles of desert. A significant amount of this distinctive dunefield, along with the local flora and fauna, are preserved by White Sands National Park.

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History of White Sands New Mexico

Did you know that people have been drawn to this large area of land, known as the Tularosa Basin, for more than 10,000 years? The gleaming gypsum dunefield of White Sands has observed the gradual advancement of human history, technology, and engineering, from atlatls (spear throwing tools) to missiles. People have called this site home for a very long time.

People
The original inhabitants of White Sands National Park arrived there about 10,000 years ago in search of shelter, food, and water. Spanish miners and explorers visited the basin in more recent times in search of salt, gypsum, and other resources. Up until Pearl Harbor was bombed in World War II, ranchers made use of the basin’s vast grasslands. It wasn’t until then that the U.S. Military realized the significance of using the basin for technical advancement and scientific study.

Places
The Tularosa Basin and White Sands National Park bear the imprint of every generation of visitors. Some of the most famous historical sites connected with the basin’s long history are still open to visitors today. The historic Lucero Ranch on the western bank of Lake Lucero and the park’s historic district, both of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are two examples of these locations. Visit the White Sands Missile Range Museum and Trinity Site, the location of the first atomic bomb test in 1945, if you’re interested in learning more about the military history of the Tularosa Basin.

Stories
The rich history of the park and the numerous narratives of people who have worked here are captured in tales that are passed down from one generation to the next. These tales include the La Pavura Blanca legend and first-person descriptions of ranching life in the early 1900s on the range. Additionally, park rangers share their own accounts of what it’s like to work for the National Park Service and in White Sands National Park.

White Sands National Park free camping is surrounded by scenery that is never the same twice, has colorful sunsets, and the brilliant night sky is an inspiration to many different artists worldwide. Did you know that numerous feature films, music videos, and commercials have used White Sands National Park as their backdrop? The magnificent mountains, clear skies, and snow-capped dunes make for the ideal backdrop for commercial photography, cinematography, and other artistic endeavors.

New Mexico White Sands National Park Information

White Sands National Park Hours: 7:00 am to 9:00 pm (No reservations are required)

White Sands National Park Visitor Center Hours and Parking: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
The visitor center has minimal parking for large RVs and trailers. Overflow large vehicle parking is available in the Administrative Building parking lot.

Entrance Fee: $25.00 per vehicle and valid for seven consecutive days and payable at the entrance booth on Dunes Drive.

Currently, National White Sands Park backcountry camping is prohibited while White Sands camping spots are being renovated. There is no set time for its reopening. Spend a night on the largest gypsum dunefield in the world while gazing up at the glittering stars of the vast New Mexico sky. Backpackers get the chance to spend a night sleeping on white dunes in White Sands National Park while taking in the nighttime activity of the creatures that call this particular ecosystem home. Only the day of camping, in the park, are permits granted.

Camping Near White Sands National Park for Free

Can you Boondock at White Sands National Park?
As far as camping in White Sands National Park goes, there isn’t a conventional campground at White Sands. The 2.2-mile camping loop trail, which leads you into the expanse of white gypsum sand, has 10 scattered campsites instead. It’s calm and dark at night. The locations are evenly spaced out.

Can you sleep in White Sands National Park?
There aren’t many places to eat or stay in the park, but there are plenty of places to stay and dine in the nearby communities. There are White Sands camp grounds.

Can you park an RV at White Sands?
Backcountry tent camping is the only kind of camping permitted at White Sands. You must therefore prepare to remain outside the campground if you own an RV. Las Cruces or Alamogordo are two possibilities close by where you can find RV parks near White Sands National Park and other area campground near White Sands National Park.

How much is it to camp at White Sands?
The camping fee is $3.00 per person age 16 and older and $1.50 for anyone age 15 and under. There is a 50% discount on camping fees for holders of the Federal Access and Senior passes.

Things To See & Do White Sands National Park Boondocking

Your preferred activities will determine how much time you spend at White Sands. If you are looking for White Sands National Park hiking, there are five distinct paths, the longest of which is roughly five miles, so if you plan to go hiking, you might want to plan on spending more time here. 2-3 hours should be sufficient if all you want to do is drive around, take in the dunes, play in the sand for a while, and visit the tourist center. Pack a lot of water.

When the Cottonwoods are changing color in late October or early November, it is the greatest time to visit. Most Cottonwood trees have turned color by mid-November.

1. White Sands National Park Full Moon Hike Or Lake Lucero Tours
Adult: $8.00
Child (ages 15 and under): $4.00
Cancellation Fee: $1.00 per ticket

From November through March, the park offers a single Lake Lucero excursion per month. From April through November, the Full Moon Hike is presented once a month on the day before the full moon night. Please visit the park website to for the most recent schedule.

Water: The dunefield region has NO ACCESS TO WATER. The visitor center is the only place to get water. All programs require the use of water bottles and closed-toe shoes. For all programs, hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses are strongly advised.

Restrooms: The tourist center has accessible restrooms. There are vault toilets all across the dunefield.

Accessibility: It is not advised to bring small children and infants on our programs due to the moderate to challenging conditions (i.e., sun, heat, rough paths). The programs are not stroller or wheelchair accessible. All park facilities that are accessible to the general public allow service animals. Wheelchairs, strollers, and other wheeled vehicles may easily reach the tourist center, toilets, and Interdune Boardwalk. Both parks and the majority of programs allow pets. Pets must always be kept on a six-foot leash. Owners are responsible for pet waste cleanup.

2. The United States’ newest National Park is located in the largest gypsum dunefield in the world.

In 2020, White Sands National Park in New Mexico replaced White Sands National Monument. White Sands is a stunning natural wonder that is located in the Tularosa Basin at a height of 4235 feet. The dunes are white because they are comprised of gypsum crystals. Additionally, it is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. The region is home to insects, pocket mice, and lizards that have developed a white tint to blend in with the surroundings.

It is a truly unique location because gypsum, a water-soluble material, is typically washed into the ocean. But the basin confines it here, resulting in these large, delicate white fields. Interesting fact: the dunes are pushed forward by gravity as well as wind, which causes them to advance until a steep dune finally falls down, constantly altering the appearance of the park.

At White Sands, you can hire sleds. Each sled costs $16.99, but if you return it, you’ll get $5 back. They do occasionally have ten-person used sleds available, though. For kids, this is a ton of fun. Even just watching them sprint up and down the hills is worthwhile.

One of New Mexico’s most breathtaking and distinctive locations is White Sands and must be seen at least once in a lifetime. The park occasionally closes during missile tests due to its proximity to the White Sands Missile Range. Closure dates were last observed in November 2014.

Take no sand from the White Sands. Show respect for our natural heritage. Plants, rocks, and historical relics should all be left alone. Although it may be alluring to bring something home as a souvenir, taking natural items from the monument entails more than just bringing home a cute little bag of sand or a cool selenite crystal.

3. White Sands National Park Serves As A Missile Test Range On a Part-Time Basis.

In 1945, the first atomic bomb in history was tested. The “Birthplace of America’s Missile and Space Activity,” White Sands Missile Range has been conducting rocket and missile tests for more than 42,000 times during the course of its 76-year history.

White Sands Missile Range provides the Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as commercial and international users on a reimbursable basis and conducts more than 3,000 tests annually on a 3,200 square mile site (approximately the size of Rhode Island and Delaware).

4. Mammoth Footprints have been found in White Sands National Park

Every day, visitors from all around the world make their mark on White Sands National Park. On the geological time scale, the Tularosa Basin’s white dunes are a relatively recent development. Many amazing fossilized footprints are found over Lake Otero at White Sands. Even though these footprints date back millions of years, researchers continue to find new signs of ancient life.

The Tularosa basin once contained Lake Otero, a massive body of water that was there tens of thousands of years ago during the ice period. The greenery was plentiful, and the environment wasn’t as dry. Instead of the deserts of New Mexico, one may have seen miles-long grasslands that resembled the Midwest’s prairies.

The ice age’s larger creatures were drawn to this lush green paradise for obvious reasons. Plant-eating animals like prehistoric camels, Columbian mammoths, and Harlan’s ground sloth visited Lake Otero to gorge themselves on the Tularosa Basin’s grasses and trees. Fearsome animals like the dire wolf and American lion were drawn to this. Long after leaving Lake Otero’s marshes, these animals left behind footprints that later turned into fossils.

5. African antelope is a non-native species in White Sands New Mexico

It is well acknowledged that one of the main causes of ecosystem change and instability around the world is the expansion of invasive species. “A non-native species whose introduction does, or is expected to cause, economic harm, environmental harm, or injury to human, animal, or plant health” is the definition of an invasive species. These species have the potential to alter fire patterns, wipe out local species, harm infrastructure, and endanger human livelihoods. The classic landscapes of our national parks are changing as a result of invasive species.

African Oryx: Only one invasive animal species is known to exist in White Sands, and that is the African oryx. The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish brought the oryx, a sizable antelope native to the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa, to southern New Mexico. 95 oryx were released between 1969 and 1977 on the White Sands Missile Range and in the neighborhood with the intention of growing a population for open hunting.

6. The Trinity Site Manhattan Project National Historical Park Is Close By White Sands National Park

The Trinity Site is accessible. The White Sands Missile Range’s Trinity Site is typically off limits to the general public. However, the US Army holds a Trinity Site Open House twice a year so that anybody can visit Trinity Site. The Trinity Site Open House will now take place between April 2 and October 15 in 2022. the third Saturday in October and the first Saturday in April. Stealth Gate Hours are from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm. Timely closing of the Trinity Site: 3:30 p.m.

The atomic age started on July 16, 1945. At 5:29 am Mountain War Time, scientists working on the Manhattan Project exploded the first atomic bomb, often known as “the Gadget,” at the Trinity Site in the New Mexico desert’s Jornada del Muerto.

The bomb was positioned atop the 100-foot (30.48 m) tall steel tower known as Zero for the Project Trinity test. At the base of the skyscraper was Ground Zero. Different distances from Ground Zero were established for equipment, instrumentation, and observation stations. The closest observation post was 5.7 miles (9.17 km) from Ground Zero, and the wooden observation shelters were guarded by concrete and clay barricades.

7. More Than 800 Animal Species Can Be Found in the National Park

Despite being in a hostile environment, the dunes are home to over 800 animal species that have evolved specifically to live in the desert. Several of them have developed to be paler in color in order to blend in with the gypsum sands. These include the bleached earless lizard and the Apache pocket mouse.

17 White Sands National Park Boondocking & Free Camping Sites

 

1. White Sands National Park Boondocking – Dog Canyon Disbursed Campground

Address
Boles Acres, New Mexico
GPS: 32.7442, -105.9306
Elevation: 4144′

Management: State Forest

Free Dispersed camping in Dog Canyon. First come -> First Camped. Reservations not accepted. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close the White Sands National Park. It’s located on the East side about 23 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

Great spot to stop near White Sands National Park. About 30 minutes to Alamogordo, another 20 to the park. There is a planet fitness in town as well! Several other rigs around, friendly neighbors staying for a while. Gorgeous backdrop in front of the mountains.

Best Trail:

Mule Canyon T-114 Trail

Mule Canyon T-114 Trail - White Sands National Park Boondocking

The terrain was extremely rocky, and the hike itself was on the harder end of moderate. The hike up involved a very rocky terrain along with climbing up and down multiple boulders. The rocks were bad enough that we could not finish and turned around a mile away from the top.

Length: 5.0 mi
Elevation gain: 1,587 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Running, Forest, River, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

2. White Sands National Park Free Camping – Water Canyon

Address
Unnamed Road
Alamogordo, New Mexico
GPS: 32.467269, -106.095689
Elevation: 4268′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

This is a free dispersed campsite. First come -> first served. No reservations accepted. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 24 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

This was clean, well kept. White Sands national park free camping area. No Reservation needed. If you plan to hike some of the trails, take along plenty of water. Most trails would need ankle support boots.

Best Trail:

Sunspot Trail to Cathy Canyon and Rim Trail Loop

Sunspot Trail to Cathy Canyon and Rim Trail Loop - White Sands National Park Free Camping

Nice trail overall, not too difficult! A lot of rocky parts/trees down (but easy to get around), good bit of inclines, lots of wildflowers, cows and deer! We only encountered 1 other group on the trail.

Length: 6.2 mi
Elevation gain: 836 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Walking, Bird watching, Views

3. White Sands National Park Boondocking – Aguirre Springs Rd (next to White Sands Missile Range)

Address
Las Cruces, New Mexico
GPS: 32.430732, -106.548929
Elevation: 5295′

Management: National Park Service

This is a free dispersed campsite. First come -> first served. No reservations accepted. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 26 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

Turnout on the way up to the white sands national park free camping ground, where the road is too steep for trailers. About 1/2 mi. off Hwy. 70. Very quiet! Can be very windy.

Best Trail:

Dog Canyon from Sunspot

Dog Canyon from Sunspot - White Sands National Park Boondocking

Long way down. Took all day plus the car shuttle. Great to see the different vegetation zones.

Length: 8.6 mi
Elevation gain: 282 ft
Route type: Point to point

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Camping, Hiking, Walking, No shade, Fee

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4. White Sands National Park Free Camping – Dry Canyon

Address
U.S. 82
Alamogordo, New Mexico
GPS: 32.945999, -105.882152
Elevation: 5630′

Management: Forest Service

The road in is 4x4. This is a free dispersed camping the Lincoln National Forest’s Sacramento Ranger District. First come -> first camped. No reservations are accepted. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 28 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

2-wd van with very low clearance handled the main road just fine. A few small washouts to creep over but nothing a Honda Odyssey with sagging exhaust couldn’t handle. Big parking area at the end of main road (less than a mile) with room to turn around. This is an easy access white sands national park free camping location.

Best Trail:

Deadman Canyon Loop Trail

Deadman Canyon Loop Trail - White Sands National Park Free Camping

A great morning romp! Trail is old logging road so most of it is rocky; would wear shoes with ankle support. A great trail as always! No obstacles, nice shade, good hike with the dogs. No other hikers this visit.

Length: 2.9 mi
Elevation gain: 236 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Bird watching, Forest, Views, Wildlife,

5. White Sands National Park Boondocking – Mill Ridge

Address
283 U.S. 82
La Luz, New Mexico
GPS: 32.958174, -105.905814 (32.948097,-105.8766057).
Elevation: 5860′

Management: Forest Service

Free Dispersed camping in the Lincoln National Forest’s Sacramento Ranger District. First come -> First Camped. Reservations not accepted. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 28 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

Vehicles with high clearance and 4WD are suggested. Several sites here in the national forest. They are very primitive, a few spaces off the dirt road. This is a dirt road that has a few turn offs to campsites. It’s very primitive, with great views and only 10 min from Alamogordo. This was clean, well kept. White Sands National Park free camping area.

Best Trail:

Corral Canyon and 1000 Mile Canyon Loop

Corral Canyon and 1000 Mile Canyon Loop - White Sands National Park Boondocking

Corral Canyon starts and ascends right off the bat. It’s basically an ATV trail that can be hiked but it’s enjoyable. After a 1.3 mile ascent you turn right and follow a dirt road until mile 3.5 where you find the descent to 1000 Mile Canyon. I stayed off to the left and walked in the field back to the car. Nice views on the dirt road walk and very tranquil.

Length: 6.5 mi
Elevation gain: 1,204 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

6. White Sands National Park Free Camping – Baylor Pass West Trailhead parking lot

Address
Las Cruces, New Mexico
GPS: 32.391105, -106.613916
Elevation: 4885′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Paved. Baylor Pass West Trailhead parking lot is open all year. There are 1-5 free campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 45 feet. You may stay 14 at Baylor Pass West Trailhead parking lot. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 29 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

Baylor Pass West Trailhead camp spot is a good place for a night or two. We had plenty of room for our 45 ft RV and Jeep. Beautiful scenery and nice to be right off a paved road.

Best Trail:

San Andres and Heart Attack Canyon

San Andres and Heart Attack Canyon - White Sands National Park Free Camping

Overall, a very pretty hike, but nothing spectacular in terms of views. Just looking at the distance and elevation gain you would think this trail isn’t steep. You’d be right, except for the fact the elevation gain is not evenly spread across this hike like maybe a typical summit hike would be. You’ll spend significant time on an easy/relatively flat trail. But the descent and ascent are both VERY steep.

Length: 9.5 mi
Elevation gain: 2,211 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

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7. White Sands National Park Boondocking – Grapevine Canyon

Address
Unnamed Road
Alamogordo, New Mexico
GPS: 32.627249, -105.842126
Elevation: 4751′

Management: Forest Service

Free Dispersed camping in the Lincoln National Forest’s Sacramento Ranger District. First come -> first camped. No reservations are accepted. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 30 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

This was the most terrifying trip I’ve ever been on. This should be removed from the site. I came from the north and took the scenic byway. There were many signs that I should have noticed and turned back. I got to a point where I couldn’t turn back. There was no way I could drive back up the mountain. My Tacoma is lifted and fitted as an overland vehicle and I struggled with the “road”. It’s very narrow, extremely rocky, and has huge drop offs into multi-hundred foot ravines. I have over a foot of ground clearance. If my vehicle wasn’t so equipped…it would be stuck up there forever. The road I used to exit was off Highway 54. It turned out to be government land; a firing Range. Unbeknown to me until I hit highway 54. Intermittent Verizon coverage. This is the way Google suggested.

Best Trail:

Lucas Canyon Trail

Lucas Canyon Trail - White Sands National Park Boondocking

Trail was good for a canyon. Great for seclusion. Starts off gradually climbing. Rocky and uneven in spots. Worth a trip.

Length: 11.0 mi
Elevation gain: 1,610 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Horseback riding, Mountain biking, Walking, Bird watching, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky

8. White Sands National Park Free Camping – Alamo Peak Road

Address
Alamo Peak Road
Cloudcroft, New Mexico
GPS: 32.87325, -105.812037
Elevation: 9209′

Management: Forest Service

Free Dispersed camping in the Lincoln National Forest’s Sacramento Ranger District. First come -> First Camped. Reservations not accepted. This is a high elevation location. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 31 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

Great location. Stayed two nights June. Most sites seemed accessible by 2 wheel drive (sedans included). Some neat spots available for higher clearance vehicles without 4 wheel drive. Plenty of sites big enough for multiple trailers or rigs. There weren’t too many people when we arrived on a Thursday, but by Saturday morning most sites were filled and there seemed to be lots of families or groups of campers. Also, worth noting—there were about a million lady bugs.

Best Trail:

Dark Canyon Loop Trail

Dark Canyon Loop Trail - White Sands National Park Free Camping

Length: 6.7 mi
Elevation gain: 810 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Mountain biking, Dog friendly, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

9. White Sands National Park Boondocking – Davis Drive Dispersed Camping

Address
Cloudcroft, New Mexico
GPS: 32.78824, -105.78599
Elevation: 9383′

Management: Forest Service

This is a free dispersed campsite. First come -> first served. No reservations accepted. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 31 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

Drove in on a Thursday afternoon and had the pick of the lot. Multiple campsites with fire pits. This white sands national park free camping site is at nearly 9k so the wind can get pretty wild and you may encounter snow in winter months.

Best Trail:

Upper Wills Canyon and Hubbell Canyon Loop

Upper Wills Canyon and Hubbell Canyon Loop - White Sands National Park Boondocking

This trail mostly follows a “road” so you shouldn’t get lost. As for sights, there is a creek running through the bottom of the canyon that is quite beautiful and so clear. All in all a pretty great day out.

Length: 7.8 mi
Elevation gain: 997 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Running, Forest, Wildflowers, Off trail

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10. White Sands National Park Free Camping – Lower Karr Canyon

Address
Karr Canyon Road
Cloudcroft, New Mexico
GPS: 32.89795, -105.812851
Elevation: 7818′

Management: Forest Service

Lower Karr Canyon is open May-Sep. No RV’s within the campground, tents only. Pets Welcome, Picnic Tables, Restrooms. This is a free dispersed campsite. First come -> first served. No reservations accepted. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 31 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

Lower Karr Canyon Campground has undeveloped campsites scattered above and below the Karr Canyon Picnic Area. Forest Road 63 is gravel and can be rough. Fire rings are available. Tent camping is allowed here and there are a number of lovely spots for you to choose from, all of which are accessible by walking in to the site from the parking area.

Best Trail:

Apple Tree Canyon

Apple Tree Canyon - White Sands National Park Free Camping

Great workout, my kiddos (10 & 6), our doggie, and I went left at the fork, uphill for 1.6 mile, then mostly downhill on the way back. We saw lots of Beautiful flowers, everything is so pretty and green, tall trees, hummingbirds and butterflies, and squirrels.

Length: 3.2 mi
Elevation gain: 770 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Running, Forest

11. White Sands National Park Boondocking – Hornbuckle Hill

Address
Fs 91
Cloudcroft, New Mexico
GPS: 32.711091, -105.769456
Elevation: 8140′

Management: Forest Service

Free Dispersed camping in the Lincoln National Forest’s Sacramento Ranger District. No reservations. First come, first served. This is a high elevation location. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 32 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

This was clean, well kept. White Sands National Park free camping area. No Reservation needed. If you plan to hike some of the trails, take along plenty of water.

Best Trail:

Stark Peak and Alamo Peak

Stark Peak and Alamo Peak - White Sands National Park Boondocking

Beautiful views for the first mile down, but be warned it’s all loose rock for pretty much the entire first half. We stopped 2.5 miles in due to the rough terrain. Trekking poles are a must.

Length: 9.2 mi
Elevation gain: 2,624 ft
Route type: Out & back

Backpacking, Hiking, Running, Forest, Views, Wildlife

12. White Sands National Park Free Camping – Sacramento Lake

Address
Sacramento Canyon Road
New Mexico
GPS: 32.746561, -105.775477
Elevation: 8304′

Management: Forest Service

Free Dispersed camping in the Lincoln National Forest’s Sacramento Ranger District. This campsite does not use a reservation system. First come, first served. This is a high elevation location. The maximum RV length at Sacramento Lake is 16 feet. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 32 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

None

Best Trail:

Salado Canyon Trail

Salado Canyon Trail - White Sands National Park Free Camping

I did this trail on an overcast day in Spring so the yucca were blooming! It was beautiful! Trail gets very tight and overgrown with thorn bushes the further you go. My dog did good until he couldn’t maneuver the thorns. Would recommend high top shoes because there’s a lot of loose rocks. Overall a very easy, convenient hike and the trestle is very cool!

Length: 1.9 mi
Elevation gain” 173 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

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13. White Sands National Park Boondocking – Baylor Canyon

Address
Baylor Canyon Road
Las Cruces, New Mexico
GPS: 32.34961, -106.61269
Elevation: 5102′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

First come -> first served. No reservations accepted. Free, dispersed camping on BLM land. Look for pull offs along the road. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 33 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

Stayed at Baylor Canyon Trailhead for 3 nights, very busy place. Many, many hikers use this trail and come and go from the parking lot throughout the day. Med size, gravel parking lot, enough to hold 4 or 5 large campers, but will be close together. Several different sized rigs camped while we were there. A paved road, right next to the lot, gets allot of traffic. There are a couple fire rings, bi trash cans. AT&T cell service was strong. This was one of my favorite White Sands National Park free camping areas.

Best Trail:

Bridal Veil Falls & Grand View Trail

Bridal Veil Falls & Grand View Trail - White Sands National Park Boondocking

Hiked this trail Thursday 8/4. Great trail, well marked- the falls were flowing very nicely. WARNING: wraps have taken over the shelter right next to the falls. Walked in and swarmed by angry wasps & bitten 3 times before I could even blink. Be careful!

Length: 7.9 mi
Elevation gain: 833 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Hiking, River, Views, Waterfall, Snow

14. White Sands National Park Free Camping – Organ Mountain NM-Baylor Canyon Road

Address
Las Cruces, New Mexico
GPS: 32.3424, -106.613429
Elevation: 5151′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road in is 4x4. Organ Mountain NM-Baylor Canyon Road is open year round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at Organ Mountain NM-Baylor Canyon Road. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 33 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

I stayed here multiple times and had the most breathtaking sunset. Gorgeous spot!! Overlooking the city of Las Cruces with the Organ pipe mountains behind you to the East. Dry camping sites are in pretty good shape. Looks like it may be a party destination based on some of the ground litter. The road in is rough but passable, just go slow. Quiet place to enjoy this area.

Best Trail:

Taylor Canyon Trail

Taylor Canyon Trail - White Sands National Park Free Camping

Length: 4.3 mi
Elevation gain: 856 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Horseback riding, Mountain biking, Running, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

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15. White Sands National Park Boondocking – Upper Karr Recreation Area

Address
Cloudcroft, New Mexico
GPS: 32.880346, -105.77956
Elevation: 9331′

Management: Forest Service

The road in is Paved. Upper Karr Recreation Area is open Year Round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Upper Karr Recreation Area. Fire Ring, Picnic Tables, Restrooms. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 33 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

Upper Karr Canyon Campground is located off of NM6563 (the Sunspot Scenic By-way) and has a 200 person capacity There are 2 fire rings, toilet, and garbage depositories are provided. RVs limited 16′. Directions: From Cloudcroft, take NM130 south and turn right onto NM6563 (Sunspot Scenic Byway). Continue along the Sunspot Highway for around 7 miles and to your left, just over the ridge you’ll see a sign for the Upper Karr Recreation Area. This road can be difficult to spot so keep your eyes open. This was a great White Sands National Park free camping area.

Best Trail:

Upper Karr Canyon Hike

Upper Karr Canyon Hike - White Sands National Park Boondocking

Easy and scenic trail with lots of firs, meadows, wildflowers, and cows! The trail is not very rocky and was not muddy at all. The return feels more moderate because of the ascent back from the canyon floor.

Length: 3.2 mi
Elevation gain: 406 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Walking, Bird watching, Views, Wildflowers

16. White Sands National Park Free Camping – Bluff Springs

Address
777-999 Upper Rio Penasco Road
Cloudcroft, New Mexico
GPS: 32.831112, -105.737568
Elevation: 8123′

Management: Forest Service

Bluff Springs is open all year and they have restrooms. Free Dispersed camping in the Lincoln National Forest’s Sacramento Ranger District. No reservations. First come, first served. This is a high elevation location. This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 34 miles away.

Best Review:

This place was great during the week for solitude. Thursday and Friday we had the whole place to ourselves. Saturday, this place got real busy.

Best Trail:

Benson Canyon Trail

Benson Canyon Trail - White Sands National Park Free Camping

Enjoyable fall hike. I suggest you get into the canyon when you can and follow the cattle/game trail the parallel the trail (actually a very eroded and beat up road)

Length: 9.0 mi
Elevation gain: 1,620 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Camping, Hiking, Horseback riding, Mountain biking, Snowshoeing, Bird watching, Running, Forest, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife

17. White Sands National Park Boondocking – Wills Canyon

Address
159-285 Wills Canyon Road
Cloudcroft, New Mexico
GPS: 32.801436, -105.731968
Elevation: 8514′

Management: Forest Service

Free Dispersed camping in the Lincoln National Forest’s Sacramento Ranger District. Reservations are not accepted at this campsite. This is a high elevation location This White Sands National Park free camping location is close to the East side of White Sands National Park. It’s about 34 miles away. There are no facilities here, this is true boondocking.

Best Review:

This was a really nice White Sands National Park free camping area. No Reservation needed.

Best Trail:

Roundup Ground Trail (107) Loop

Roundup Ground Trail (107) Loop - White Sands National Park Boondocking

The first mile of the hike was great! The second mile of the hike was mostly climbing some difficult terrain and the last half of the hike was in survival mode. Whatever amount of water you think you need bring more!

Length: 4.6 mi
Elevation gain: 1,135 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Forest, Views, Wildlife



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