Santa Fe New Mexico in Early July

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We're going to be in Colorado for an extended family vacation (extended family, as in more than just me, wife, and kids) and I am interested in taking the wife and kids down to the Santa Fe area afterward. It would be the beginning of July... as in July 2, 3, and 4. July 5 we will be visiting Mesa Verde on the way back on home (we've been to Mesa Verde a lot--hence the ruins part of the username--so I know what I want to do there). What I want help on is the Santa Fe area. In particular, I'm interested in doing Bandelier while in the Santa Fe area as well as Pecos NHP. What worries me is that Bandelier doesn't allow for reservations at their campground and while supposedly it never fills, if it was going to do so, over July 4th would be the time. Anyone have any experience with this? Anyone have other campground suggestions in the Santa Fe area that I could reserve? Or do I even need to worry and just wing it?
 

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dcpm012

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I lived between Santa Fe and Bandelier for a few years and know the area well.

The trouble with the Bandelier area is that Los Alamos National Laboratory is right there. It's a jurisdictional nightmare and therefore there aren't many campgrounds. There is one west of the Bandelier entrance maybe 25 minutes away called Jemez Falls Campground. Here is the link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/santafe/recarea/?recid=75776. There there is one a bit further than that called Redondo Campground but that's getting even further out maybe 35 minutes west. Here is the link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/santafe/recarea/?recid=75806. Because I lived right there, I've never stayed at either campground because I usually 'boondock it', and I never ventured over there on July 4th weekend. I am sure it will be fine, however.

I think you'll have more trouble finding camping after visiting Pecos NHP. The NHP is just south of the town of Pecos, and the town is just south of the Pecos Wilderness. NM-63 is the road that runs north/south connecting them all, and which dead ends at the wilderness. There are lots of campgrounds between the NHP and the Pecos Wilderness - public, private, some facilities for big trailers, etc. - but they are really, really busy. This is where all the extended families from the area go to have big gatherings and fish and so on. I don't know what to say to expect, again, since I lived there, I would never go to Pecos during that time lol. However, here is the forest service website which lists the campgrounds: https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/santafe/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=75436&actid=29. The relevant district is the Pecos - Las Vegas Ranger District. I don't think any of the public campgrounds are reservable. If you wanted, it would be a great place to rent a cabin for one or two nights, Pecos is a gorgeous area. Lastly, I am not sure how to find private campgrounds online.

In conclusion, I think you will be fine at Bandelier. At Pecos, I believe it will be tougher to find camping. The distance between Bandelier and Pecos NHP is about 1.5 hours, so it may be best to get a site at Bandelier for a few nights and day trip to Pecos NHP.

Hope that helps.
 
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Thank you @dcpm012. That's great info. I'm not too worried about camping near Pecos NHP as the day we do it, we are planning on staying at a KOA cabin in Las Vegas. We don't generally use KOA as we like to tent and their sites for that typically are kind of well, awful, but we are doing a long drive the day before and we want an early start the next day. Plus the cabins, at least at this KOA, seem to be at a good price point.
 
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I love the Rio Grande Gorge near Questa North of Taos. Not Santa Fe area but AWESOME camping on the rim and hiking down in gorge a blast. It you have an overnight in you those shelters down by the river are great. If not hike the Petroglyphs at least.

I like Jemez Falls area. McCauley warm springs and Spence Hot Springs are a blast as long as nudity doesn't bother you. San Antonio Hot Springs is awesome too but have had multiple friends incur vanadlaism on their vehicles.

Frijoles Falls at Bandelier is a great hike, not sure how it will be flowing then though?

Santa Fe National Forest map would be a great purchase.
 

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