Experience the joys of camping this summer season. Photograph by Denys Nevozhai/Unsplash.

A RED DOME TENT PERCHED NEAR THE EDGE OF SANTA CRUZ LAKE’S Overlook Campground, positioned with a perfect view of the glassy water below. My wife and I had come to this area near Chimayó for a Saturday hike and a brief escape from the June heat wave, but the setup called to me like a siren song.

It had been several years since our last camping trip—and even then, we’d used our tent in the backyard more often than in the field over the past 20 years. Admittedly, that was probably my fault.

As a kid, I’d spent end-of-summer family vacations at Ohio’s Pymatuning State Park in our pop-up camper. We’d get up early to fish for perch and walleye, spend the afternoon swimming or riding bikes, and roast marshmallows for s’mores over the fire at night. 

Those are the kinds of experiences I wanted to pass along when my wife and I started building our family. So early on, we planned a weekend trip with our still-potty-training two-and-a-half-year-old son and seven-month-old daughter. When the forecast called for less than favorable conditions, my wife suggested we postpone. But it had been a long workweek—and we’d bought a new tent, an air mattress, and a small green lantern. “It’ll be fun,” I encouraged as we packed up the car that Friday. 

It was not. Darkness—and the temperature—had fallen by the time we made it to the campground. The kids slept on the ride and were now wide awake. The pump for the mattress made a horrible whining sound that echoed across the lake. My son needed to pee. Finally, we were able to huddle together on the barely inflated mattress, but no one slept much. We didn’t even stay a second night. 

It took almost 15 years for us to brave such a family adventure again. Maybe the time in-between wouldn’t have been so long if I’d had a guide like this month’s “Out of Site” cover story. 

The feature is packed with great places to stay throughout the state and offers plenty of expert advice, including how to camp with kids. There’s also an important list of things we should—and shouldn’t—do to preserve and protect these precious places while enjoying the outdoors. 

And while we can’t guarantee you’ll have a perfect camping trip, our state has a host of perfectly inviting ways to try—whether that’s overlooking Santa Cruz Lake or in your own backyard.

Read More: Draw inspiration from our vast landscapes, thrilling waterways, and fresh air to reconnect with what you love about summertime in New Mexico.

Read More: A summer road trip to a land of lakes.

Read More: Live your best RV life at these five parks.