Find the perfect home away from home. Illustration by Ryan Johnson.
City of Rocks
It’s a long drive to New Mexico’s most distinctive state park, on the southern end of the Gila Wilderness, but the whimsical playground of boulders at City of Rocks justifies the trip. The volcanic-rock fields make for a few days of interesting climbing and exploring, with campsites nestled beneath pillars and domes and tucked inside crescents of welded tuff. The perimeter trail is great for walkers and mountain bikers, and the hike to nearby Table Mountain offers a perspective on just how out-of-place this tangle of rocks is on an otherwise wide-open plain. Fee: $10–$14 per night.
Carlsbad KOA Holiday
The best reason to visit Carlsbad, in the southeastern corner of the state, is to see the eponymous caverns. The second-best reason may be to stay at the Carlsbad KOA Holiday, a family-oriented 168-site campground within striking distance of the national park. With a pool and smoked-on-site barbecue, as well as weekly campfire s’mores and movie nights, the campground is a destination unto itself. It’s also surrounded by a profusion of attractions, including boating and fishing at Brantley Lake State Park, and wildlife viewing at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. Fee: From $50 per night for electrical sites.
Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post
For a taste of Americana, you can’t do better than Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post, a 135-site campground on the western outskirts of Albuquerque. Set along historic Route 66, the highway that came to symbolize economic growth, freedom, and opportunity, Enchanted Trails revels in that spirit with a vintage court featuring seven fully refurbished travel trailers. All but one are available for rent. And because of its views of town and the Sandías, there’s no better place to watch the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October. Book early, though, as spots sell out fast. Fee: $37 per night for full-hookup sites.