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Camping at Manzano Mountains

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The Manzano Mountains are a small mountain range located in central New Mexico, southeast of the city of Albuquerque. They offer a vast area for outdoor enthusiasts looking for camping and other recreational activities. Before heading out camping in the Manzano Mountains, there are several important pieces of information to consider for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Location and Access

The Manzano Mountains can be accessed from various points, generally characterized by rural roads and trailheads. The primary access roads are NM-55 and NM-337. Depending on where you are coming from, these state roads provide routes to different areas of the mountains and their camping sites.

Camping Sites

Manzano Mountain State Park:

  • Offers developed campgrounds with amenities such as picnic tables, water, and restrooms.
  • Suitable for both tent camping and RVs, though RV hookups may be limited.

Red Canyon Campground:

  • Located in the Cibola National Forest, offering more primitive camping experiences.
  • Typically has basic amenities like fire rings and picnic tables, but fewer services than a state park.

Camping in the Wilderness:

  • The Manzano Mountains also allow for backcountry camping for those who prefer a more primitive experience.
  • Requires campers to follow Leave No Trace principles and carry all necessary supplies.

Climate and Best Time to Visit

  • The climate can vary greatly with altitude, but generally, the best time to camp is from late spring to early fall.
  • Summers can be warm during the day and cool at night while winters are cold, with snow often blanketing the higher elevations.

Wildlife and Plants

  • The area is home to a variety of wildlife including black bears, deer, turkeys, and many bird species.
  • You'll find a mix of coniferous forest and some deciduous trees, especially in lower elevations or riparian areas.


  • Hiking: Plenty of trails ranging from easy to strenuous, including parts of the Crest Trail.
  • Bird Watching: A popular area for birders due to the diverse avian population.
  • Mountain Biking and Horseback Riding: Some trails accommodate these activities.

Safety Concerns

  • Weather: Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature swings.
  • Wildlife: Store food properly to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.
  • Water: Carry sufficient water or have a means to purify natural water sources, as dehydration is a risk.

Permits and Regulations

  • Some areas may require permits for camping or other activities. Always check with the local ranger district before your trip.
  • Familiarize yourself with fire regulations as these can change seasonally based on fire danger.

Leave No Trace

  • Campers are expected to respect the environment by following the Leave No Trace principles, which include packing out all your trash, leaving what you find, and minimizing campfire impacts.


Camping in the Manzano Mountains offers a wonderful chance to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors. However, it's important to be prepared and informed about the specific conditions and regulations of the area. Always check with local authorities for the most current information regarding campgrounds, weather, wildlife, and trail conditions. By doing so, you ensure not only your safety but also the preservation of the natural beauty for future visitors.

Map of Campgrounds in Manzano Mountains
Campgrounds in Manzano Mountains
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