There are no developed campgrounds or vehicle camping of any kind inside the national park. Backcountry camping, however, is permitted in some areas. Pick up free permits at the visitor center.
Near the Park
The closest camping to the national park that we recommend is in the city of Carlsbad at Carlsbad RV Park & Campground, 4301 National Parks Hwy., Carlsbad, NM 88220 (www.carlsbadrvpark.com; tel. 888/878-7275 or 575/885-6333). This tree-filled campground offers pull-through sites large enough to accommodate big rigs with slideouts, as well as tent sites and sites for everything in between. Some sites have cable TV hookups, and all sites have Wi-Fi. There's an indoor heated pool, a game room, a playground, and a meeting room with kitchen. A convenience store sells groceries, gifts, and RV supplies.
The most luxurious camping in the area for both RVers and tenters is at Carlsbad KOA, 2 Manthei Rd., Carlsbad, NM 88220 (www.carlsbadkoa.com; tel. 800/562-9109 or 575-457-2000). Near Brantley Lake State Park, the KOA is 13 miles north of the city of Carlsbad, just off U.S. 285. The top-rated RV park in the entire state by several respected RV park publications, the facility is nicely landscaped with grass and trees and boasts large (40*70-ft.) sites that can accommodate the largest rigs with slideouts. All RV sites have full hookups, including cable TV and Wi-Fi, and there is an outdoor heated pool, hot tub, playground, coin-op laundry, and fenced pet park where dogs can be off-leash. Some tent sites have water and electric available, and there are two meticulously maintained bathhouses. Barbecue dinners, sandwiches, and pizza are prepared each evening and can be ordered for campsite delivery. An on-site wind turbine provides a portion of the campground's electricity. There are also 12 cabins, ranging from basic to luxurious, at rates from $57 to $145 per night.
Another good choice for those who will be exploring the area is Brantley Lake State Park, P.O. Box 2288, Carlsbad, NM 88221 (www.nmparks.com; tel. 575/457-2384). Located 14 miles north of the city of Carlsbad (take U.S. 285, then go 4 1/2 miles northeast on Eddy C.R. 30), this quiet and relaxing park is just under 40 miles from the Carlsbad Caverns Visitor Center. Activities include boating, swimming, and fishing on the 3,000-acre lake, as well as bird-watching. The park also has boat ramps, picnic tables, two playgrounds, and exhibits on the 19th-century community of Seven Rivers, considered one of the West's wildest towns, which now lies at the bottom of the lake. The day-use fee is $5 per vehicle. There are 51 developed RV campsites (48 with water and electric hookups, 3 with water, electric, and sewer), plus primitive camping along the lakeshore for 20 to 50 RVs or tents, depending on the lake level. Rangers present programs in the campground Saturday evenings during the summer. Reservations, for an $11 processing fee (in addition to the campsite fee), are available from spring through early fall through the state park website, www.nmparks.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.