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Camping at Rio de las Vacas Campground

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Brief Overview

The Rio de las Vacas Campground is located within the Santa Fe National Forest, which spans a significant portion of northern New Mexico. This campground provides a rustic camping experience amid the diverse landscapes of the national forest which include lush meadows, rocky peaks, and dense forests.

Location and Access

Rio de las Vacas Campground is situated in a mountainous area, and access may vary depending on the season. Typically, the campground is accessible via forest roads that may be unpaved and could require vehicles with good clearance or four-wheel drive, especially after periods of rain or snow.

Campsites and Reservations

Campsite Details: The campsites at Rio de las Vacas typically offer basic amenities. This might include:

  • Picnic tables
  • Fire rings
  • Access to toilets (often vault toilets)

Reservations: Many campsites within the Santa Fe National Forest are first-come, first-served, but it's important to check the current reservation policy for Rio de las Vacas Campground through the U.S. Forest Service or a campground reservation system as this can change.

Facilities and Amenities

Basic Amenities:

  • Potable water may not be available, so campers should plan to bring their own supply.
  • Restroom facilities are likely to be minimal (vault toilets are common).
  • Trash disposal: Campers might need to pack out all trash due to limited or no trash collection services.

No Hookups:

  • The campground typically does not have hookups for RVs, reflecting its more primitive camping style.

Recreational Activities

Outdoor Adventures:

  • Hiking: There are various trails in the vicinity, offering hikes for all levels.
  • Fishing: Streams and lakes nearby may offer trout fishing.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The area is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, and numerous bird species.

Note on Seasonal Access and Weather:

  • Certain activities may be seasonal, with hiking and fishing typically best in the late spring, summer, and early fall.
  • Weather can change rapidly in mountainous areas, and snow can persist into late spring or arrive early in the fall, affecting access and activities.



  • Proper food storage is critical to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.

Fire Safety:

  • Always follow local fire regulations. There may be seasonal fire restrictions.


  • Due to its remote location, cell service may be unreliable. Be prepared with maps and knowledge of the area.
  • It's wise to inform someone of your travel plans and expected return.

Regulations and Etiquette

  • Campers are expected to adhere to the "Leave No Trace" principles to minimize their impact on the natural environment.
  • Noise levels should be kept to a minimum, especially during quiet hours, typically between 10 pm and 6 am.
  • Pets should be kept on a leash and under control at all times.

Booking and Contact Information

For the most up-to-date information, it's best to contact the Santa Fe National Forest directly through their official website or by phone. They can provide current information on the status of the campground, reservations, and any recent changes to facilities or policies due to weather events or management changes.

Location of Rio de las Vacas Campground
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