Everyone loves the great outdoors and camping is a great outdoor recreational activity. Whether it be using a tent, caravan, motorhome, primitive structure, or no shelter at all, camping offers participants to leave urban areas and civilization and enjoy nature while spending one or several nights outdoors usually at a campsite or in a dispersed camping area outside of a designated campground. The Bureau of Land Management Las Cruces District offers camping in both designated campgrounds and dispersed camping areas.
Aguirre Springs Campground
Aguirre Springs Campground offers a sweeping view of the eastern side of the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks towards the Tularosa Basin and White Sands National Park. It’s a perfect site to hone your camping, hiking, and equestrian skills in one of BLM’s most popular developed campgrounds in southern New Mexico.
The Sierra Vista Trail is a 29-mile National Recreation Trail, that offers dispersed camping. It is a nonmotorized recreation trail along the western flank of the Organ Mountains and connects to the Franklin Mountain State Park trail system in Texas. The trail provides spectacular views of the mountains, which jut majestically above the desert floor. It is also possible to see wildlife, including mule deer and coyotes, along the trail.
Although lacking in amenities, dispersed camping on BLM-managed lands offers many benefits that may not be available in developed campgrounds. Maybe it’s the sense of isolation, or perhaps it’s just closer to your recreational opportunity of choice. Whatever your reason, to ensure that you and the other campers who follow you enjoy their experience, please practice minimum impact camping and Leave No Trace principles. Dispersed camping means no services, such as trash removal, and little or no facilities, such as tables and fire pits, are provided. With the lack of amenities and services, the camping is free for up to 14 days.
Most of the remainder of public lands are open to dispersed camping, as long as it does not conflict with other authorized uses or in areas posted “closed to camping,” or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources.
As for Aguirre, campers have a choice of 55 camping and picnicking sites, two group sites, a horse corral and two recreational trailheads. The campground provides visitors with several options to enjoy the immediate area or venture out to other parts of the BLM Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument for up to 14 days.
The campground access road can accommodate most RV/campers, except for any units longer than 23 feet. Visitors can bring their own firewood for campfires in designated areas, as well as charcoal or gas grills for cooking. However, the cutting and gathering of wood or vegetation for campfires is strictly prohibited.
While dogs are allowed in the campground, visitors are always required to have them on a leash and to clean up after them.
Fees for Aguirre Spring Campground are collected at the self-pay station at the entrance, including day-use fees of $5 per vehicle per day, and overnight camping fees of $7 per vehicle/RV/camper per night. However, with an annual pass, the day-use fee is free, while the overnight camping fee is reduced to $3.50 per night for Senior Pass holders. The collected fees go to maintain the campground amenities, and BLM advises visitors to bring correct change or a check to cover the fees.
Aguirre Spring Recreation Area is located east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Take U.S. Highway 70 for 14 miles east of the I-25/U.S. 70 interchange in Las Cruces. Then, 1.1 miles after San Augustine Pass, turn south/right on the Aguirre Spring Road. Four miles in, the road becomes a steep one-way loop. The entry gate is closed after 7:30 p.m. to ensure the campground occupants can enjoy a restful camping experience.
Three Rivers Petroglyph Site
Another camping site is the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by campers. Located off of US 54 some 17 miles north of Tularosa, the Three Rivers Petroglyphs offer visitors a close up look of prehistoric Jornada Mogollon rock art. The basaltic ridge rising above the Three Rivers Valley contains over 21,000 petroglyphs, including masks, sunbursts, wildlife, handprints, and geometric designs. The number and concentration of petroglyphs make this one of the largest and most interesting rock art sites in the Southwest. A rugged 0.5-mile trail begins at the visitor shelter and links many of the most interesting petroglyphs. Another short trail begins on the east side of the picnic area and leads to a partially excavated prehistoric village.
The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site is one of the few locations in the Southwest set aside solely because of its rock art. It is also one of the few sites giving visitors such direct access to petroglyphs. The number and concentration of petroglyphs here make it one of the largest and most interesting petroglyphs sites in the Southwest. More than 21,000 glyphs of birds, humans, animals, fish, insects and plants, as well as numerous geometric and abstract designs are scattered over 50 acres of New Mexico’s northern Chihuahuan Desert.
The petroglyphs at Three Rivers, dating back to between about 900 and 1400 AD, were created by Jornada Mogollon people who used stone tools to remove the dark patina on the exterior of the rock. A small pueblo ruin is nearby and Sierra Blanca towers above to the east.
The site offers five shelters with picnic tables and grills. One group site has three picnic tables under a shelter and two grills; two RV sites have covered picnic tables, grills, and water/electric hookups; five locations are for tent use within defined boundaries; one site is accessible. One of the tent locations is accessible. Leashed pets are allowed in the campground but are not allowed on the trails. Restrooms and drinking water are available.
Campsites are open year-round one a first come basis and campers may stay up to 14 days in a 28–day period. Day Use (per vehicle) is $5, and Camping (per campsite) is $7 a day. The entrance gate is closed each evening and non-campers must be out by 10:00 p.m.
Whether it’s your first time or you have been camping several times, BLM thinks you’ll agree that its sites offer the perfect venues for a summer outing with family and friends. For more information check out our webpage at or to purchase an annual pass which will eliminate vehicle fees and entrance fees, visit the BLM Las Cruces District Office at 1800 Marquess Street, Las Cruces, NM 88005 or call the front desk at 575-525-4300.
Story courtesy BLM Las Cruces District.
Posted by LasCruces.com