As the days become warmer, local New Mexicans and out-of-towners flock toward the state’s vast landscape to enjoy outdoor living. Camping is a popular form of recreation in New Mexico, and a new study ranks the Land of Enchantment the third best state for the activity.
Adventure on the Rock, a site dedicating to sustainable adventure travel, recently analyzed ten factors that contribute to a quality camping trip. Wyoming earned the top ranking for best state for camping, followed by Montana and then New Mexico.
Cody Johnson, communications director at the New Mexico Tourism Department, attributes the state’s high ranking to its size and “public lands that are accessible through campgrounds and trails.”
“We always say that we’re adventure steeped in culture, that’s kind of our unique identifier,” he said. “The adventure part of that manifests in the form of a plethora of outdoor activities that are available, whether it’s camping, or hiking or water-based recreation.”
According to the study, the ten factors researchers used to analyze each state were the number of national parks and landmarks per 1,000 square miles, number of campsites, free campsites, hiking trails and RV parks per 100,000 people, deaths per 10 million national park visits, deaths caused by dangerous animal or plant exposure per 10 million people (1999-2020), average fuel prices, animal and plant species diversity, and average yearly rainfall.
Regarding New Mexico, the study concluded that the state had the third highest number of free campsites, the seventh highest number of campsites and the 15th highest number of hiking trails per 100,000 residents. It also stated that New Mexico is the fourth most biodiverse state due to its different species of plants and animals.
Johnson added that the state’s climate is a big factor to the popularity of camping as well.
“I think the amount of sunshine we receive is certainly helpful when it comes to encouraging folks to camp and get outside, and I think the diversity of our climate just within the state lends itself to being a desirable hiking and camping location,” he said.
Johnson explained that New Mexico’s eclectic climate, especially the temperature differences between the northern and southern parts of the state, provides outdoor recreational opportunities for most of the year.
He added that New Mexico’s state parks “are incredibly valuable assets.”
“We have a lot of great state parks that are scattered throughout the state that make the opportunity to camp and get outside pretty accessible and equitable for New Mexicans,” he said.
The New Mexico Tourism department has emphasized developing a solid infrastructure to develop and manage the experiences for visitors to the state, Johnson shared. The department understands the value of the state’s culture and its vast landscape, and work with local communities to help support tourism, as well as creative avenues to encourage visitors to explore New Mexico.
“We just want to make sure that their experiences are great, their expectations are met,” he said. “When it comes to campgrounds, that’s the type of infrastructure that is certainly important for us to continue to invest it.”
New Mexico offers so much for locals and visitors alike. The state’s climate, size and culture contribute to its highly-regarded camping opportunities, as well as outdoor recreation as a whole.
Whether people are in town for Balloon Fiesta, passing through in the RV on a road trip, or simply looking for a little adventure in their backyard, New Mexico is a fantastic place to explore the outdoors.