Book your CampspotBook Now
Camping Destinations

The Best Weekend Camping Trips From El Paso

by Joe ColemanJan 27, 2023
The Best Weekend Camping Trips From El Paso

El Paso is one of the more unique spots in the Lone Star State. Situated so far west that it’s basically just southern New Mexico extended, the best weekend camping trips from El Paso situate travelers among several great national parks and forests.

Tips for Camping Trips From El Paso

Located in west Texas near the Mexico border, El Paso offers campers access to the best of west Texas and southern New Mexico. Spring and fall are going to be the best times for camping trips near El Paso, beating both the summer heat and chilly winter nights.

Bring Extra Water

This one is probably obvious, but just in case—El Paso and the surrounding areas are hot and dry, so bring extra water for your El Paso camping trips, even if you’re visiting in a moderate season like mid-fall. The weather is pretty pleasant starting in October, but it’s still a desert and there’s no reason to chance it. This is a good rule for camping in general, but especially out here.

Layers Are Your Friend

Yeah, El Paso gets up to triple digits during the summer, but it also gets decently cold. Thirty-degree swings from high to low temperatures aren’t uncommon. Just because it’s warm during the day doesn’t mean nighttime will be the same, so pack a jacket for your weekend camping trips from El Paso.

Expect a Commute

Everyone knows Texas is a large state; that’s kind of its thing. However, its neighbor, New Mexico, isn’t exactly small. In fact, it’s the fifth-largest state in the U.S.! While much of the highlights of west Texas and southern New Mexico are within a few hours’ drive, traveling through the Desert Southwest in general takes time.

What to See Near El Paso

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site

(45 minutes from El Paso)

This state park is an easy drive from El Paso and a beautiful place off the beaten path. The park was originally founded in 1970, and the state has been slowly adding trails and amenities since its inception.

Hueco Tanks State Park is a great spot for hikers, nature watchers, and especially rock climbers. The boulders here are popular undertakings for local climbers, so bring your gear if you want to give it a shot! While there are some campsites, Hueco tends to be a day-use park, so consider other camping options.

Where to Camp: HideAway Lakes

RV set up by the lake near El Paso

Equal parts campsite, resort, and fish camp, HideAway Lakes is whatever type of weekend camping trip from El Paso you need it to be. Whether it’s a basecamp for exploring the area or you’re planning on setting a line and sitting by the water, this is the place to do it. It caters to both tent campers and RV travelers, with lots of premium RV sites alongside spacious tent spots.

The on-site Bait Shack also has everything you need to fish. Didn’t catch anything? No worries! The Bait Shack sells snacks too.

Sites offered here:

  • 30-amp deluxe shaded waterfront RV/tent site
  • 30-amp deluxe waterfront RV/tent site
  • 30/50-amp deluxe shaded waterfront RV/tent site
  • Premium shaded waterfront tent site
  • Rustic waterfront RV/tent site
  • Standard shaded waterfront tent site
  • Standard tent site

Lincoln National Forest

(1.5 hours from El Paso)

Situated near White Sands National Park, the Lincoln National Forest is one of the best weekend camping trips from El Paso, offering recreation for visitors looking to get a bit more off the beaten path. The forest actually covers three major mountain ranges: the Sacramento, Guadalupe, and Capitan mountain ranges that account for more than 1 million acres. Camping, hiking, and mountain biking are all popular pursuits here.

Interestingly enough, the Lincoln National Forest is home to Smokey Bear, the mascot of the United States Forest Service. No, it’s actually not Smokey the Bear. Despite popular belief, Smokey does not have a middle name. Smokey Bear, however, was a real bear cub found in the Lincoln National Forest in 1950 after surviving a forest fire.

Where to Camp: Slow Play RV Park

motor home decorated with party flags, with two chairs and blanket nearby

This family-friendly spot is a great stopping point in the Lincoln National Forest area. It’s able to accommodate RVs of all sizes, so new RVers should have an easy time maneuvering through this park. Guests on their weekend camping trips from El Paso can find entertainment at the arcade, dog park, or just by taking in the nearby views of the Sierra Blanca mountains.

Sites offered here:

  • 30-amp back-in: small
  • 30-amp pull-thru: large
  • 30-amp pull-thru: small
  • 30/50-amp back-in: small
  • 30/50- amp pull-thru: large
  • 50-amp back-in: large
  • 50-amp back-in: small
  • 50-amp pull-through: large
  • Apartment
  • Cabin
  • Mobile home

White Sands National Park

(1.5 hours from El Paso)

A great option for weekend camping trips from El Paso, White Sands is one of the more unique national parks with its shimmering white sands. While it isn’t filled with the high-ticket items like a Yellowstone or Yosemite, White Sands appeals to the traveler who wants to quietly commune with nature. It does, however, have dunes you can slide down, which is quite exciting.

Those planning to head to the Lincoln National Forest should definitely make time to stop at White Sands (or vice versa). Located within a half hour of each other, both should be seen in the same El Paso weekend camping trip if possible. White Sands is likely a day trip for most people as accommodations in the park, while they exist, are primitive.

Where to Camp: Camp Rio

Camp Rio covered by trees near El Paso

Want to be near White Sands but pass on the primitive amenities? Camp Rio has your El Paso camping trip covered. Just because the experience is comfortable doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out on any nature experiences, though. Camp Rio offers plenty of glamping options to go along with full hookup RV sites.

Travelers here are treated to a comfortable yet authentic experience in southern New Mexico. You’ll be amidst the beautiful nature of the region on your weekend camping trips from El Paso, but never short on amenities or things to do.

Sites offered here:

  • Bell tent
  • Cozy cabin
  • Family cabin
  • Gypsy wagon
  • Mountain cabin
  • Tear drop
  • Wall tent
  • Deluxe Riverside Primitive Site
  • Stargazing tents
  • 30-amp small back-in RV site
  • 30-amp standard back-in RV site
  • 30-amp standard pull-through RV site
  • 30/50-amp standard back-in RV site
  • 30/50-amp standard pull-through RV site
  • Deluxe riverside tent site
  • Riverside tent site
  • Water + electric tent site

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

(1 hour and 50 minutes from El Paso)

Looking to skip the crowds during your El Paso weekend camping trip? Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the lesser-visited national parks in the National Park System (NPS). It also holds the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak. Hikers looking for a fun challenge should consider the trek to the “Top of Texas” at 8,751 feet in elevation.

Outside of strenuous peak-bagging, there are plenty of things to do in Guadalupe Mountains. With a great network of hiking trails and a beautiful series of roads surrounding the park, it’s easy to appreciate the beauty of West Texas when visiting Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Where to Camp: Country RV Park

RV taken on weekend camping trip from El Paso

Since Guadalupe Mountains National Park is less than half an hour from Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Country RV Park is the ideal spot to camp when visiting either (or both)!

Sites offered here:

  • Covered 30/50-amp full hookup RV site
  • Full hookup back-in RV site

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

(2 hours and 20 minutes from El Paso)

Carlsbad Caverns is another good choice for those looking to skip the crowds during their weekend camping trips from El Paso. Carlsbad had roughly half the visitation of White Sands National Park in 2021, so it’s easy to spend some quiet time here. If you can plan your visit around bat season, the evening flights are a unique sight to behold.

The ideal time to be in Carlsbad Caverns National Park is either late spring or early fall. The bats are usually still here during those times, but the weather stays comfortable. Regardless of when you go, the cavern tours are always worth the time.

Where to Camp: Country RV Park

truck parked next to RVs during weekend camping trips from El Paso

Country RV Park is focused on simplicity. One of the biggest draws here is its proximity to the town of Carlsbad itself. You can quickly get to the park from here, but you can also enjoy all the art and attractions that the city offers.

The park is simple and blends in with the desertscape. While this means your spot won’t be paved, it will be level and comfortable while blending seamlessly into the natural surroundings.

Sites offered here:

  • Covered 30/50-amp full hookup RV site
  • Full hookup back-in RV site

Nearby Public Lands

A very small percentage of Texas is managed by the federal government. In fact, just under 2% of Texas is federally managed, and the NPS and United States Forest Service (USFS) make up almost 70% of the federal land. It’s tough to bank on free camping in Texas, though it isn’t impossible to find.

If you’re getting too tired on the drive to your campsite, the state of Texas does have a network of Safety Rest Stops that allow drivers to spend the night. These stops aren’t exactly camping, but they have all basic amenities to keep travelers comfortable on their way to their destination.

New Mexico, on the other hand, is a very different story. Just over one-third of New Mexico is managed by the federal government, with the Bureau of Land Management making up half of that and the USFS taking another third of it. This means that almost all federal land in New Mexico is fair game for free camping. Also, almost all of southern New Mexico is run by a federal entity.

What to See in El Paso

Why leave the city when there’s so much to do? Just because it isn’t camping, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun! Check out these attractions during your weekend camping trips from El Paso.

El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens

You don’t need to leave the city to appreciate nature. This 35-acre zoo has more than 200 species of animals in its care. Several critically endangered species are here for visitors to see while the zoo participates in their conservation.

The El Paso Zoo is easily one of the best places in the city to take children and is filled with daily activities and attractions that the whole family can enjoy. If nothing else, be sure to check out the wildlife amphitheater for an educational and engaging activity.

El Paso Museum of Art

One of the pinnacles of Downtown El Paso’s arts and culture is the El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA). Admission is free, so there’s no reason to skip this unique attraction. Do note, though, that the museum is open from Wednesdays to Saturdays only.

Exhibitions here can be open anywhere from just a few months to over a year, so always check the calendar before finalizing any plans. Besides exhibitions, the EPMA also offers classes and events where visitors can learn to make art or listen to a lecture from visiting artists and experts.

Franklin Mountains State Park

Okay, we weren’t going to have this list without at least one camping option! Franklin Mountains State Park is a popular local destination that all travelers should consider seeing. Interestingly enough, Franklin Mountains State Park is an urban park as all of its 24,000 acres lie within the El Paso city limits.

Franklin Mountains State Park is a popular day-use spot, though there are some campsites and RV sites to stay in during your El Paso weekend camping trips. Some of the most popular activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing, so bring your gear and get to the trailhead!

El Paso is a unique city, being the main stopping point in this section of west Texas. It’s a place that’s equal parts arts and culture and rugged outdoors. Whatever you’re looking for on your weekend camping trips from El Paso, it’s likely within just a few hours from this exciting city!

Joe Coleman is a freelance travel and outdoor writer based in East Texas. His love for the outdoors started when living near Olympic National Park and has stayed with him ever since. Taking a respite from social media, you can reach him exclusively at

Image credit: HideAway Lakes, Slow Play RV Park, Camp Rio, Country RV Park, Country RV Park