Unsurprisingly, Santa Fe National Forest sits twenty miles west of its namesake city, Santa Fe, in the north-central region of New Mexico. Stretching across an impressive 1.6 million acres, this mountainous forest has become a must-see for those who book an RV in Santa Fe County. Interstate Route 25 runs directly from Albuquerque and provides the easiest access to these spectacular landscapes.
The history behind the Santa Fe National Forest is a simple one that dates back to the early 20th century. The forest was established in 1915 when Jemez National Forest and Pesco National Forest merged together to create an area abundant with recreational opportunity. No matter what time of year you decided to go state park RV camping, you’ll be met with wildlife watching opportunities, winter activities, natural hot springs, and so much more at Santa Fe National Forest. What are you waiting for, rent a camper at Santa Fe National Forest and see what it can offer you and your family.
Miles and miles of multi-use trails undulate through the dense forests and have become a playground for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders alike. Due to the vast size of the national park, you’ll want to take your Santa Fe camper rental for a ride and park it up at one of the convenient carparks found at the trailheads. Some popular tracks include the Jemez Falls Trail and an easy 0.5-mile stroll that leads walkers to a small opening and waterfall and the Dorothy Stewart Trail, which loops around the forests for 2 miles, providing a fantastic introduction to the natural flora and fauna that thrives here. Avid hikers camping at Santa Fe National Park can set their alarms for an early rise and tackle the challenging 9.5mile Nambe Lake Trail. With an elevation of 3,625 feet, this is no easy feat, so come prepared with lots of food and water.
If you fancy a winter vacation, time your Santa Fe National Forest camping trip with this year’s ski season, the Santa Fe Alpine Ski Area is well known for providing winter sports enthusiasts with over eighty different ski runs to explore. The resort is decked out with seven efficient ski lifts, allowing for easy access to all of the slopes, as well as countless rental outlets if you’ve forgotten any of that all-important ski gear. If you’re not so much of a skier, strap on your snowshoes, or jump on a snowmobile and explore this winter wonderland in your own way.
Whether you’re visiting during summer or winter, you’ll be glad to know that Santa Fe National Forest boasts its very own selection of natural hot springs. Which hot springs you visit completely depends on how far into the forest you wish to delve. Jemez Springs Range District, located just off Highway 4, offers some of the most accessible springs, whereas the Spence Hot Springs provides a more secluded experience. Whatever you do, remember to check the water temperature before you dive in as temperatures can exceed 129°F.
Camping at Santa Fe National Forest
You’ll be stuck for choice when it comes to finding somewhere to park up your RV rental in Santa Fe National Forest. New Mexico allows primitive camping almost anywhere in the forest unless otherwise stated. All they ask is that you park up at least 100 feet away from streams and lakes, to help maintain a healthy ecosystem, and take all of your rubbish away with you.
For something a little more comfortable, head over to one of the campgrounds in Santa Fe National Park that provides hookups for your rental RV. Fenton Lake State Park can be found in the western section of the forest, not far from the town of Cuba. This campground offers campers a selection of 35 RV-friendly spots arranged in five different loops. Which loop you choose depends on how close you wish to be to the lake, washroom facilities, and whether or not you require partial hookups. If you want all three, you’ll need to reserve a spot-on Loop D in advance, as these fill up quickly. This can be done online or over the phone.
Exploring the Area
Besides the great outdoors, the town of Santa Fe offers up some great cultural enrichment for those who are interested. Just opposite the infamous Santa Fe Plaza is the Palace of Governors, a museum that preserves and celebrates the intriguing past of Santa Fe. The building was originally used by Spanish settlers in the 1600s as a government building but fell out of use in the 18th century. Continue on to the New Mexico History Museum to heighten your knowledge of the history of the state as a whole. Wander through exhibitions that tell of New Mexico’s trials and tribulations in achieving independence, stories of Spanish heritage, and of the original Indian settlers.
On the other end of the scale is Meow Wolf, arguably one of Santa Fe’s most unique and creative attractions. This production company curates immersive, multimedia exhibitions that take visitors back to their childhood, where story tales and fictional characters come to life. You’ll have to walk, crawl, jump and swing your way through over 70 hand-made rooms to experience this at its best. It’s hard to convey how weird and wonderful this is, so it’s best to just visit and see for yourself!
If you can squeeze one more attraction in, let it be the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. Situated just outside of town, this small gallery houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Native American arts in the state. From age-old carvings to contemporary paintings, handmade jewelry to unique textiles, you’ll find it all here, under one convenient roof.