Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram

Pecos, New Mexico camping is very popular due to the beauty of the wilderness and the abundance of recreational activities on offer. Campers will find a variety of dispersed (free) sites along and near the Pecos River and plenty of peace and quiet. Camping here puts you in the heart of the Santa Fe National Forest and Pecos Wilderness.

Note: This article highlights campgrounds managed by the U.S. Forest Service accessible from NM Route 63 only.

For most, the focus of the Santa Fe National Forest is easy access to the Pecos River and great places to camp. Choosing the best campground is what this article is about. This guide covers everything you need to know to find your perfect Pecos, New Mexico camping spot.

A one lane road heading into thick forest with pine trees in the Santa Fe National Forest.
The Gateway to Pecos, New Mexico Camping!

If the weather turns or the campgrounds are full consider renting a cabin on the river. We’ve written a review of Hummingbird Cabin in Terrero, located between 2 of the campgrounds listed below (Field Tract and Holy Ghost). This fully stocked cabin sits along the Pecos River and offers plenty of peace and quiet.

The scenery here will certainly inspire you to seek out more of this state; make sure you check out some of our favorite road trips in New Mexico and find the many quirky, historical and natural attractions waiting for you in the Land of Enchantment! We even have our favorite southwest road trips in Utah, Nevada and Colorado to recommend.

Pecos, New Mexico Camping: What to Expect.

Consider your expectations when it comes to camping near Pecos, New Mexico; for example ease of access to recreational opportunities, cost and privacy. Some campgrounds near Pecos will be better suited to your expectations than others – use this guide to 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; the dirt roads to both Iron Gate and Links Tract campgrounds require uphill drives that may be difficult after heavy rain. All other campgrounds highlighted here are easily reached on paved roads. All campgrounds in this part of Santa Fe National Forest are less than $10 per night, or free.

For maps of trails and information on hiking in Santa Fe National Forest check out AllTrails and don’t forget to download their free app.

Tip: Pecos village offers 2 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.


Field Tract Campground

Where: Directly off NM Route 63, 9 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’ll reach on NM Route 63. The sites here are very well shaded, however the proximity to both NM Route 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 3-sided camp shelters, complete with pitched roofs and fireplaces; there are 6 of these shelters here.  Expect fire pits and picnic tables and clean restroom facilities; this is a well maintained site. Field Tract Campground also abuts the Pecos River making this a perfect choice for trout fishing.

3 sided shelter, picnic table and fire pit at Field Track Campground in Santa Fe National Forest.ti
Field Tract Campground

Within walking distance south of Field Tract Campground is the adobe El Macho Church. The church 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: 16 miles north of Pecos village. The 3 mile road to Holy Ghost Campground is off NM Route 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, New Mexico camping spots in Santa Fe National Forest. These sites are within a narrow valley and a hiking trail (Trail 284 – Holy Ghost) heading into the Pecos Wilderness begins here.

A site at Holy Ghost Camp Campground near Pecos, New Mexico.
Typical site at Holy Ghost Campground

About half the sites here abut Holy Ghost Creek. Also, these sights are considerably more spaced out than those at Field Tract Campground. 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 route 63. This shop sells basic goods as well as fishing supplies; there’s even a hot shower here for a few dollars. Head south on route 63 for several miles to scenic Pecos Canyon; the river here passes between some rather dramatic scenery. Also, stop at the Windy Bridge Picnic Site if it’s open.


Links Tract Campground

Where: 16 miles north of Pecos village. The sign on NM Route 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 near Pecos, New Mexico.

FR 646 continues for 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 route 63, provides snacks, drinks and basic supplies along with a limited selection of fishing gear. The sections of the Pecos River down the hill 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 Route 63 the turn for Iron Gate Campground (FR 223) is 18 miles north of Pecos. Road 223 continues to the campground for 5 miles 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 it is, sites here should be a bit more spaced out. Bring EVERYTHING you need to this remote campground!  Iron Gate Campground is situated above 9,000 ft. and gets quite cool at night, even in summer months.

Several tents and a truck at Iron Gate Campground near Pecos, New Mexico.
Typical site at Iron Gate Campground

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

Despite the formidable 5 mile dirt road leading to Iron Gate Campground horse riding is popular here and facilities include 4 corrals. This campground is not well suited for access to Pecos River.



Cowles Campground

Where: 22 miles north of Pecos village, at Cowles. Here, turn left off NM Route 63 and continue straight to Cowles Campground. Note: NM Route 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 little space and privacy. Two 3-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 on. Not up for a hike? Get back on NM Route 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 Route 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 3 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 sites – 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 rather 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 Route 63 at Cowles; the road climbs here offering great views toward Pecos village as well as the surrounding mountains all around.


Jack’s Creek Equestrian Campground

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

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, New Mexico 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 near Pecos, New Mexico.
Jack’s Creek Horse Camp

Jack’s Creek Horse Camp is set in a clearing at 8,400 ft. 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, 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 site at Jack’s Creek Campground

Pleasant walks, numerous hiking options, 2 creeks and the Pecos River nearby make Jack’s Creek Campground a great choice for recreational opportunities. For even more fishing, Cowles Ponds are about 1 mile down the road. Again, check out AllTrails for maps and information on all the nearby hikes. A handful of hikes begin from the parking area of Jack’s Creek Equestrian Campground.


In Conclusion…

Pecos, New Mexico camping is a great choice if you wish to experience the forest and a variety of hiking trails. Plenty of smaller creeks offer chances other than Pecos River for 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.

Want to see more nearby? Check out some scenic drives from Taos and Montezuma Hot Springs in Las Vegas. For even more ideas click on our article featuring 20 things to do in New Mexico.

Heading to Albuquerque? We’ve compiled articles focusing on hikes in the Sandias,  plus free things to do and plenty of day trips from the Duke City to keep you busy.


Pin Me Now!

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.

Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram

2 Comments

  1. 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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *