Snag a site at one of these great campgrounds this summer. Illustration by Ryan Johnson.
Bottomless Lakes State Park
Bottomless Lakes State Park, southeast of Roswell, features eight liquid jewels that attract paddlers, fishermen, swimmers, and scuba divers looking to explore the narrow but capacious lakes, which get their color from algae and other aquatic plants. Lea Lake Pavilion sits on a sandy beach with a lifeguard-staffed swimming area. Stay overnight at one of the 33 sites and catch the sunrise and sunset reflecting in the water. Fee: $10 per night.—Jennifer C. Olson
Settle in for a celestial sleepover on a clear night with a new moon (there’s one coming up on August 8) at North America’s first International Dark Sky Sanctuary. Situated 3.5788e-6 light-minutes from any permanent artificial light source, and 1.5 hours from Silver City, Cosmic Campground, near Alma, offers the world’s best 360-degree view of the sky, according to co-founder Al Grauer. “With the naked eye, you can see meteors, the Milky Way, planets, and star clusters the way people once did,” he says. To maximize campers’ nighttime viewing experience, arrive before sunset to set up camp. It’ll also help ensure you snag one of six campsites and a concrete observation pad. Fee: Free.—Jennifer C. Olson
Holy Ghost Campground
Holy Ghost Campground, near Pecos, lies deep up a verdant, creek-lined canyon, far enough from NM 63—the main route through the Santa Fe National Forest—to be overlooked. After arriving on a late-summer afternoon, we camped at one of the 23 sites nestled between conifers and a grassy meadow, sprawled out our dinner fixings on a picnic table, and watched darkness settle. The trailhead provides access to several Pecos Wilderness highlights, including short ridge climbs to sweeping views and a more ambitious loop past Stewart Lake. “Once you get in there, your options are almost limitless,” says Lynn Bjorklund, who wrote a guidebook on Pecos trails. Fee: $8 per night. —Elizabeth Miller