Last Updated on June 1, 2021

Camping near Pecos, NM is very popular due to the beauty of the wilderness and the abundance of nearby recreational activities. Campers will find a variety of paid and dispersed (free) sites along and near the Pecos River along with plenty of peace and quiet. This puts you in the very heart of Santa Fe National Forest and the Pecos Wilderness Area. My guide tells you how find your perfect Pecos, New Mexico camping spot.

Note: This article highlights campgrounds managed by the U.S. Forest Service accessible from NM Route 63 only. Also, we strongly encourage you to contact Pecos Ranger District before arriving to check local conditions and/or restrictions.

A one-lane road heading into thick forest with pine trees on the way to a popular Pecos, NM camping spot in the Santa Fe National Forest.
The gateway to Pecos, NM camping

If the weather turns or the campgrounds are full consider a cabin on the Pecos River instead. See our review of Hummingbird Cabin in Terrero, located between Field Tract and Holy Ghost campgrounds (below). This riverfront cabin is fully stocked and offers plenty of peace and quiet.

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Pecos, NM Camping: What to Expect.

Consider your expectations when it comes to Pecos, NM camping; ease of access to recreational opportunities, cost and privacy are important factors and this article highlights those. Some campgrounds will be better-suited to your expectations than others – use this guide and choose yours wisely. In general, expect wooded sites, clean toilet facilities, fire pits, picnic tables and nearby recreational access.

Each site mentioned here is easily accessible in dry conditions, however the dirt roads to both Iron Gate and Links Tract campgrounds require uphill drives which may be difficult after heavy rains. All other Pecos, NM camping options featured here are easily reached on paved roads. All campgrounds in this part of Santa Fe National Forest are either less than $10 per night, or free.

For maps of trails and information on hiking in Santa Fe National Forest check out AllTrails and download their free app.

Tip: Pecos village offers two general stores, however stock up on all your camping supplies prior to getting here. Basic food, water and simple goods can be purchased in Pecos although true camping supplies are best purchased in either Santa Fe or Las Vegas.

Ready to Explore Beyond Your Pecos, NM Camping Trip?

Field Tract Campground

Where: Directly off NM 63, nine miles north of Pecos village.

Open: May through November.

Price: $8 per night.

Number of sites: 15

Toilets: Yes.

Potable water: Yes.

Suitable for RVs: Yes, but without hookups.

Reservations: Recommended – visit www.recreation.gov. For more information on Field Tract Campground visit www.fs.usda.gov

Notes: This is the first official camping spot you reach on NM 63. The sites here are very well shaded, however the proximity to both NM 63 and other campsites make Field Tract Campground a poor choice for peace and privacy; my advice is to check out other campgrounds in Santa Fe National Forest.

A highlight of Field Tract Campground are the three-sided camp shelters, complete with pitched roofs and fireplaces; there are six of these shelters here. Expect fire pits and picnic tables and clean restroom facilities at this well-maintained site. Field Tract Campground also abuts the Pecos River making this a perfect choice for trout fishing.

A three-sided shelter, picnic table and fire pit at Field Track Campground in Santa Fe National Forest, one of the more popular Pecos, NM camping spots in the area.
Field Tract Campground on the Pecos River in New Mexico

Within walking distance south of Field Tract Campground is the adobe El Macho Church. This was built in 1858 and partially restored in the 1950’s to mend a collapsed wall. Workers discovered 35 bodies buried in coffins beneath the church floor during this restoration. The bodies have since been moved to a common grave site.

Holy Ghost Campground

Where: Holy Ghost Campground is 16 miles north of Pecos village. The 3 mile road to the campground is off NM 63 at Terrero; follow signs left to the campground.

Open: May through November.

Price: $8 per night. $50 per night for the group site.

Number of sites: 24

Toilets: Yes.

Potable water: No.

Suitable for RVs: Yes, but without hookups.

Reservations: Only the group site at Holy Ghost Campground requires a reservation; visit www.recreation.gov. All other sites here are first come, first served. For more information on Holy Ghost Campground visit www.fs.usda.gov

Notes: Pleasant sites along Holy Ghost Creek make this one of the most peacefully situated Pecos, NM camping spots in Santa Fe National Forest. These sites are within a narrow valley and a hiking trail (Trail 284) heading into Pecos Wilderness begins here.

A typical Pecos, NM camping spot with a tent, picnic table and a blue cooler nearby.
Holy Ghost Campground near Pecos, NM

About half the sites here abut Holy Ghost Creek. Also, these sights are considerably more spaced out than those at Field Tract Campground, closer to Pecos village. Each site here contains a picnic table and fire pit. Garbage barrels are provided. The single lane road into Holy Ghost Campground is suitable for walking and is quite scenic.

The seasonal (May 1st through Labor Day) Terrero General Store is 3 miles from Holy Ghost Campground, on NM 63. This shop sells basic goods as well as fishing supplies; there’s even a hot shower here for a few dollars. Back on NM 63 head south for several miles to scenic Pecos Canyon; the river here passes between some rather dramatic scenery. Also, stop at Windy Bridge Picnic Site if it’s open.

Links Tract Campground

Where: 16 miles north of Pecos village. The sign on NM 63 for Links Tract Campground is confusingly signed Willow-Davis Campground.  A 1 mile dirt road (FR 646) begins here and heads uphill to Field Tract Campground. This road is suitable for all vehicles when dry.

Open: May through November.

Price: Free.

Number of sites: 12

Toilets: Yes.

Potable water: No.

Suitable for RVs: Yes, but without hookups.

Reservations: No. For more information on Links Tract Campground visit www.fs.usda.gov

Notes: Most of the dispersed sites at Links Tract Campground offer plenty of privacy. However, the number of vehicles per site is relaxed here and as a result large groups often camp at Links Tract. Also, the several less-private spots here tend to blend into each other. Keep all this in mind if you wish for a quiet camping experience, especially at weekends and holidays.

A truck and camper among pine trees at Links Tract Campground, one of the free Pecos, NM camping areas in the Santa Fe National Forest.
Links Tract Campground near Pecos, NM

Forest Road 646 continues for some miles beyond the campground, perfect for getting deep into the forest. In season, (May 1st through Labor Day) the Terrero General Store, several minutes south on NM 63, provides snacks, drinks and basic supplies along with a limited selection of fishing gear. Sections of the Pecos River downhill from Links Tract Campground offer plenty of access spots for fishing and picnics.

Iron Gate Campground

Where: Iron Gate Campground is 23 miles north of Pecos village. From NM 63 the turn onto FR 223 for Iron Gate Campground is 18 miles north of Pecos. FR 223 continues for 5 miles to the campground on a very rough road not suitable for RVs or low clearance vehicles.

Open: May through November.

Price: $4 per night.

Number of sites: 14

Toilets: Yes.

Potable water: No.

Suitable for RVs: No.

Reservations: No. For more information on Iron Gate Campground visit www.fs.usda.com

Notes: The drive here, although not suited for every vehicle, is stunning and Iron Gate Campground is quite remote. As tucked away as this is, sites here should be a bit more spaced out. Bring EVERYTHING you need to this remote campground!  Iron Gate Campground is situated at an elevation of approximately 9,000 feet and gets quite cool at night, even in summer months.

Several tents and a truck at Iron Gate Campground, one the more remote spots for camping near Pecos, NM.
Iron Gate Campground near Pecos, NM

Although still within Santa Fe National Forest boundaries, Iron Gate Campground is suited for Pecos Wilderness hiking. Here, gain access to the trails of Hamilton Mesa (249), Rociada (250) and Valdez (224). For more information on hiking in Pecos Wilderness visit www.fs.usda.com.

Despite the formidable 5 mile dirt road to Iron Gate Campground, many equestrian enthusiasts tow their horses here for nearby trail riding and several corrals are available. This campground is not suited for quick and easy access to Pecos River.

Cowles Campground

Where: 22 miles north of Pecos village, at Cowles. Here, turn left off NM 63 and continue straight to Cowles Campground. Note: NM 63 ends at Cowles; a continuation of the paved road, called Cabana Trail, continues uphill for 1 mile to Jack’s Creek Campground.

Open: May through November.

Price: $6 per night.

Number of sites: 9

Toilets: Yes.

Potable water: No.

Suitable for RVs: No.

Reservations: No. For information on Cowles Campground visit www.fs.usda.com

Notes: Cowles Campground is small and offers very little space and privacy. A pair of three-sided shelters with fireplace feature here and each site has a fire pit and picnic table. For an easy, nearby hiking trail check out the 7.5 mile Windsor Creek Loop, at the end of the road Cowles Campground is located on. Not up for a hike? Get back on NM 63 and head north for a scenic drive instead.

From the campground a paved road along Windsor Creek makes for a very nice walk through the forest past seasonal cabins. This campground is also within walking distance of Cowles Ponds, Windsor Creek and the Pecos River, all perfect for fishing. The Cowles Ponds area is popular and gets busy on weekends in the summer and especially at holidays.

Panchuela Campground

Where: 22 miles north of Pecos village, at Cowles. Turn left off NM 63 and follow signs to Panchuela Campground.

Open: May through November.

Price: $5 per night.

Number of sites: 6

Toilets: Yes.

Potable water: No

Suitable for RVs: No

Reservations: No. For more information on Panchuela Campground visit www.fs.usda.com

Notes: Panchuela Campground features several three-sided shelters with pitched roofs and fireplaces and all feature a picnic table and fire pit. Sites here are quite close to one another, however the setting along scenic Panchuela Creek is undeniably beautiful. Note: Vehicles must park in a separate area a short distance away from the campsites – you cannot pull in to set up camp here.

Near where Panchuela Creek flows into the Pecos River in Santa Fe National Forest.
Near Panchuela Campground

Hikers take note: Panchuela Trail (also called Cave Creek Trail), Dockwiller Trail and Johnson Lake all begin here. The 5.6 mile Cave Creek Trail is the easiest and winds through a lush valley along both Panchuela and Cave creeks. Toward the end of this trail are several caves which Cave Creek actually flows through. This is an incredibly scenic and refreshing hike, accessible directly from the campground.

Cowles Ponds Fishing Site is within walking distance of Panchuela Campground. These ponds are a popular place to cast your line in the clear waters. For a scenic drive continue up NM 63 at Cowles; the road climbs here offering views toward Pecos village and the surrounding mountains.

Jack’s Creek Equestrian Campground

Where: 22 miles north of Pecos village, at the end of Cabana Trail Road (NM 63).

Open: May through November.

Price: $10 per night.

Number of sites: 8

Toilets: Yes.

Potable water: No

Suitable for RVs: Yes, but without hookups.

Reservations: No. For more information on Jack’s Creek Equestrian Campground visit www.fs.usda.com

Notes: Pecos, NM camping wouldn’t be complete without an equestrian campground featuring corrals and plenty of space to park trailers. Of course, camping with your horse means there are plenty of riding paths nearby; Jack’s Creek Trail starts directly from the campground. Click on the following link for a complete list of equestrian trails in Santa Fe National Forest.

A corral and picnic table at Jack's Creek Horse Camp, a spot combining Pecos, NM camping with the opportunity for equestrian trail riding.
Jack’s Creek Horse Camp near Pecos, NM

Jack’s Creek Horse Camp is set in a clearing at an elevation of approximately 8,400 feet. There is little shade or privacy here, however this is the place to camp if you have your horse. Still, this is a rather scenic spot and the aspen trees at this elevation simply glow yellow in autumn! Pecos River, Jack’s Creek and Panchuela Creek are all nearby, making this entire area a great choice for fishermen, too.

Jack’s Creek Campground

Where: 22 miles north of Pecos village at the end of Cabana Trail Road (NM 63), just beyond Jack’s Creek Horse Camp.

Open: May through November.

Price: $10 per night.

Number of sites: 39

Toilets: Yes.

Potable water: No

Suitable for RVs: Yes, but without hookups.

Reservations: Only the group site at Jack’s Creek Campground requires reservations. Find more information for Jack’s Creek Campground at www.fs.usda.com

Notes: Jack’s Creek Campground is sprawling, offering a variety of sites both shaded and in open meadow. All sites feature picnic tables and a fire pit. Take a walk through the entire campground and enjoy the scenery of the surrounding hills and mountains. Overall, the setting here is best in autumn as the aspens become bright yellow.

A tent in a clearing with pine trees in the background at Jack's Creek Campground near Pecos, New Mexico.
Typical spot at Jack’s Creek Campground

Pleasant walks, numerous hiking options, two creeks and the Pecos River nearby make Jack’s Creek Campground a great choice for recreational opportunities. For fishing, Cowles Ponds are about 1 mile down the road. A handful of hikes begin from the parking area of Jack’s Creek Equestrian Campground.  Again, check out AllTrails for maps and information on each of the nearby hikes.

In Conclusion…

Pecos, NM camping is a great choice if you wish to experience Santa Fe National Forest and Pecos Wilderness Area. Plenty of smaller creeks as well as the Pecos River offer chances for some great fishing. NM Route 63 is a scenic drive with plenty of spots to pull in for a picnic or to find your own swimming hole in summer.

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A tent on a river surrounded by trees in autumn.

Pine trees surrounding a narrow road with grey skies above.

A campfire with a stylized opaque circle in the background.


  1. Update to your info re- Terraro. The store is closed. Stock up on last minute things like ice in Pecos. We were just there the last week of August 2023.

    • Hi Janice.

      We appreciate notices from readers – it’s entirely impossible for us to continuously check on the status of each spot we mention in our articles.
      Things can and do change – this is why we include phone numbers, other info, addresses and/or websites (when applicable) so readers can find these things out for themselves. The shop at Terrero could be closed for good or it could be closed due to the time of year, as mentioned in our article. Seasonal demands and variances often dictate when an establishment can or will open, or close. Personally speaking, when a place operates only seasonally we always try to officially enquire about it before we arrive.

      This article includes our experiences, suggestions and tips. Our main tip to readers regarding stocking-up on supplies before arriving in the area is found under the paragraph: Pecos NM Camping: What to Expect. We strongly urge all readers to pay attention to our tips and to understand the importance of always getting official information.

      We are not in the United States at the moment but we will be back in New Mexico this autumn. Once there we can (officially) locally confirm the status of the shop at Terrero and update our article then.

      Thank you, Janice!

      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  2. Are there backcountry ponds or creeks to hike to at these campgrounds? Opportunity to see wildlife (deer, elk, bear)?

    • Hi Jeff.

      There are loads of interconnecting trails to creeks, ponds and alpine lakes throughout this area, some leaving from the campgrounds. We suspect with a bit of luck (and stealth) it’s possible to spot some wildlife. We suggest hikers bring along a good up-to-date map of the trails throughout the forest, or a hiking trail-related app which works offline, like Alltrails. In our article we suggest a particular map for hiking in the Pecos Wilderness – you’ll find a link for that located in the Iron Gate Campground section. Additionally, we suggest checking with staff at the Pecos Ranger District in Pecos town – they should be aware of current trail conditions.

      Enjoy the wilderness!

      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  3. I am looking for an RV camping area close to the river for 3 nights any good ones you recommend

    • Hi Rubi,

      We didn’t have an RV during our visits to the campgrounds, so we cannot comment on which campground is best in this case. We can say the size of your RV matters, so I suggest clicking on the official NFS websites I included in my article. These official websites might list size requirements/restrictions for RVs – also I suggest you try contacting the NFS rangers in Pecos village before making any plans because frankly we aren’t sure if the campgrounds are even open. They might be, but we haven’t been in the U.S. since November and aren’t certain what is going on there, so to speak.

      Good luck and let us know what you find out!

      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  4. Donna Scott

    Jerry & Fiona,
    I thoroughly enjoyed this post – awesome photos and many camp sites to visit.
    Good luck with your blog and continue your adventures.
    Keep us informed of your amazing travels on a budget.

    • Thanks so much for the great encouragement! Can we suggest a campground just for you? If not, let us know – we can recommend a cozy cabin down the road from the campgrounds if you’d prefer that instead!

      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

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