Tucked away in southeastern New Mexico, Ruidoso awaits the company of explorers. The area surrounding Ruidoso represents diverse New Mexican landscapes in the most splendid ways as mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests dot the map. Plus, this mountain town has camping sites that suit the needs of both tent enthusiasts and glampers.
Ruidoso grew into a village after a few businesses and cabins were built along the Rio Ruidoso. Surrounded by the Lincoln National Forest, Ruidoso’s natural landscape has been beautifully retained for our present-day enjoyment and has established Ruidoso as a destination for lovers of the great outdoors. It is frequented for horseback riding, fishing, hiking, camping, and more, and local businesses and public entities have cultivated quality experiences for visitors from all over.
As you might expect of a vacation community surrounded by a national forest, there are multitudes of RV parks and campgrounds in the area. Here are some popular options to consider.
Bonito Hollow RV Park
Located on 12 acres of land along the Rio Bonito sits Bonito Hollow RV Park. Bonito Hollow has 60 developed camping sites for RVs only, most including full RV hookups and 15 with water and electric only (although there is a dump station for these sites to use). There is also one developed site with a small dry cabin and a larger cabin that can sleep up to six people (this site does not have RV hookups).
Guests will enjoy breathtaking views of tall pines and the relaxing sound of the river rushing by — especially if you reserve one of the sites that back up to the Rio Bonito. Amenities include a laundry room, restrooms, a store with ice and firewood, a sand volleyball court, horseshoes, a pet run, trout fishing in Rio Bonito, and hiking trails.
The office also has a loaning library and board games for guests to enjoy. To be sure to get a spot, make reservations online or over the phone before arrival. Summer weekends and holidays are the busiest times, but you may be able to score a last-minute weekday site if you’re lucky!
More information about Bonito Hollow RV Park.
Directions: Take Hwy 48 through Ruidoso to Hwy 37. Travel 1 1/4 miles on Hwy 37. Bonito Hollow will be the second RV park on the left.
Monjeau Campground and Skyline Campground
Hikers, outdoor photographers, and those who love the outdoors and rustic camping, look no further: Monjeau Campground is where you belong. Monjeau Campground in the Lincoln National Forest leads to Monjeau Lookout. The lookout was originally built in 1936 and shortly after reconstructed as a Civilian Conservation Corps project.
Monjeau is the perfect spot for campers to watch stars through a tree-rimmed sky. The campground has plenty of privacy, making for an authentic camping experience; however, amenities such as picnic tables, grills, and restrooms are nearby. Free dispersed tent and RV camping are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
No hookups are provided. Campers can enjoy beautifully scenic hiking trails and breathtaking 360-degree views adjacent to the campground. While the hiking trails and scenery are captivating, the history of the location as a CCC project and lookout point is its most popular feature.
Just south of Monjeau Campground on Forest Road 117, you’ll find Skyline Campground. This campground offers 17 tent-only sites with picnic tables, vault toilets, and no trash pick-up. The parking area is unpaved and in inclement weather, the Forest Service warns that the last two miles of the gravel road may be a challenge.
The Forest Service website also says, “Breathtaking mountain views abound and access to the White Mountain Wilderness can be found at the site via the Crest (T25) Trailhead.”
More information about Monjeau Lookout Campground.
More information about Skyline Campground.
Directions: Follow NM 48 north out of Ruidoso for 4 miles and turn west (left) on NM 532 for 1 mile. Turn north (right) onto Forest Road 117 and continue for 4 miles to reach Skyline Campground. Continue to reach Monjeau. The Forest Service states that the road to Monjeau can be steep at times and closes in winter.
Tranquil Oak Grove Campground is located four miles north of Ruidoso close to the mountain vistas of Sierra Blanca. This Forest Service campground features 30 first-come, first-served camping sites featuring vault toilets, a parking area, fireplaces, tables, and trash cans. Guests can enjoy the beautiful surrounding oak forest, hiking, birdwatching, and stargazing.
Tent camping and RVs (up to 18 feet) are welcome, but hookups and water are not available. Sites are walk-in, but RVers can boondock on the road. Overnight rates are $6 per night and $6 for each additional vehicle. This site is seasonal and is open from May 15 until September 15, weather permitting.
More information about Oak Grove Campground.
Directions: Follow NM 48 north out of Ruidoso for four miles and turn left (heading west) on NM 532 for five miles.
Sam Tobias Memorial Group Campground
Opening each year in May, Sam Tobias Memorial Group Campground is one of the largest and most frequented developed camping grounds in Ruidoso. With capacity for 100 guests and multiple group sites, this Forest Service facility is the perfect place for a camping family reunion, bachelor or bachelorette weekend, or just a getaway with friends.
Showers or hookups for RVs are not available, but the sites are equipped with lighted pavilions, one electric outlet (at some), picnic tables, campfire pits, grills, water, and vault toilets. Overnight camping ranges from $60 to $100 per night depending on the site and number of campers. Reservations must be made at Recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777.
More information about Sam Tobias Memorial Group Campground.
Directions: Immediately north of the Smokey Bear Ranger Station is Cedar Creek Road (Forest Road 88). Turn left and follow Forest Road 88. Within a mile, you will see the signs and gates for the campground on your right. This campground is the second set of facilities you will see on your right.
South Fork Campground
This popular Forest Service campground in the Smokey Bear Ranger District features 53 first-come, first-served primitive camping sites. Restrooms, picnic tables, and water fountains are available.
Tent and RV camping are allowed on designated sites. Water and electrical hookups are not available, and RVs must be no longer than 35 feet. Overnight stays are $10 per night per vehicle. Campers can enjoy the tall pines and luscious grass here from May to September.
More information about South Fork Campground.
Directions: Take Hwy 48 north out of Ruidoso for nine miles toward Angus, New Mexico. Turn left (west) at Hwy 37. From there, merge onto Bonito Lake Road (aka Forest Service Road 107) and follow it for approximately five miles. The South Fork Campground entrance will be on your left.
Rob Jagger’s Campground
If horses are part of your camping plan, you’ll want to explore the Rob Jaggers Campground located on NM 220. The campground is operated by the BLM and is located in the Fort Stanton – Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area. Here you’ll find 27 first-come, first-served campsites with electricity and water hookups and at selected sites, horse corrals you can rent.
There are also staging areas for horseback riding. But this location isn’t just for equestrians! In the conservation area, you can also enjoy hiking, caving, mountain biking, visiting cultural and historic sites, wildlife viewing, nature study, and photography. There are drinking water and vault toilets at the Rob Jaggers Camping Area and electricity at the group shelter.
More information about Rob Jagger’s Campground.
Directions: From Ruidoso, take Mecham Drive/NM 48 towards Alto to NM 220 and turn right. Proceed for 15 miles and the campground will be on your right.
Camping Near Town
Campsites near the lake fill up quickly so be swift or look toward nearby campgrounds to stay. Midtown Mountain Campground and RV Park is just five minutes away from Grindstone Lake and within walking distance from Midtown. It’s a great option for RV campers, but tent campers or those who want to try one of their teepees will enjoy it, too.
Midtown Mountain is one of the newest additions to the camping scene in Ruidoso and is evident in its amenities. They have a dry sauna, fitness room, pet area, outdoor kitchen area, access to hiking trails, free WiFi, and even a gift shop for visitors to enjoy. Each restroom unit has a private toilet, shower, and sink. Midtown represents upscale camping to a T.
302 Mecham Dr., Ruidoso
More information about Midtown Mountain Campground.
Those wishing to cast away everyday amenities and be truly one with nature can surely find spots to pitch their tents throughout Lincoln National Forest. Dispersed camping (setting up camp off a forest access road) is welcomed by the Forest Service; however, there are rules to abide by.
Rules include that campsites should be set up at least 100 feet away from water sources, after 16 days campers must move at least five miles to a new spot, and campers must be conscientious about fire restrictions. Of course, RVers — who bring their amenities with them — may also take advantage of some dispersed camping locations.
One location that attracts both tent and RV campers is located at Highway 532 and Forest Road 127A, where a creek rolls by. You’ll drive by it on your way to Oak Grove Campground.
To further investigate camping options in Lincoln National Forest, visit the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide.
Posted by Ruidoso.com