A simple, but relaxing stop in SE New Mexico to visit Carlsbad Caverns.
- Site Quality = 3.5/5
A bit of a mix on site quality here. On the positive side all the sites are paved with water/electric (50 or 30Amp) and have decent separation, large (and very nice) shelters, grills and tent sites. Also, almost every site has some kind of lake view (a huge positive!). There are also 3 full hook-up sites which are on smaller side. The biggest ding is levelness and there’s a big mix here. Reservation sites (esp. on the outside of the circle) seem to be more short and sloped than non-reservation sites. Overall I recommend going non-reservation and taking your time to find a good site (we were extremely happy with our pull-though #39 and thought it one of the loveliest, most private sites in the loop). For those looking for more privacy the primitive camping area has lovely dirt sites right by the lake (with enough space for big rigs).
- Facilities = 3/5
The facilities are OK. On plus side they are spacious and kept nicely clean. The negative is they’re rather minimal. So, toilets are all-metal (bit of a cold shock for the backside in the AM), and showers have shared changing area and are on a rather short timer-button.
- Location = 4/5
Overall we liked the location of this park. It’s nicely situated by a lake and within a decent drive (~1 hour) of Carlsbad Caverns and ~12 miles from Carlsbad. Only ding is there’s a bit of a long, curvy drive (~6 miles) from the main highway to the campground. The remote feel does make it relaxing and quiet.
- Pet Friendliness = 5/5
Nice park for doggie. There are a few decent hiking trails (a few miles), plus spurs to the lake. If you take the walk down to the primitive camping area you can play and splash in the water too.
Overall Rating = 3.9
BONUS ALERT = Camp in the high desert with full lake views!
Summary: We chose this campground primarily to visit nearby Carlsbad Caverns (~1 hour away) and really ended up enjoying the remote and relaxing feel of the place. The campground is nicely located on a hill-top overlooking Brantley Lake so almost all the sites have some kind of lake view. There are a couple of cute, little hiking trails and direct access to the lake from the primitive area (great for doggie in the afternoon). On the negative side sites are a bit of a mix. All have very electric/water, lovely sitting areas, large shelters, grills, tent sites and nice views, but vary quite a bit in how level they area. Non-reservation sites seem the best bet. For those looking for more privacy the primitive camping area has lovely dirt sites right by the lake (with several areas large enough for big-rigs -> if the weather were cooler that’s where we’d go). Another thing to be aware of is every now and then (especially on a still day) you will get some sulphur smell from the nearby gas fields. Overall however we loved our view, found the campground very relaxing, and would certainly come again.
Extra Info: Verizon full signal both for smartphone and aircard. Sites cost $8/night for primitive, $14/night for water/electric (either 50 or 30 Amp) and $18/night for full hook-up (3 sites available). Camping fees can be covered with New Mexico Annual Camping Permit. Approx. half of campground is reservation, other half is first-come-first-serve. On-site dump station.