Backpacking in New Mexico comes with thousands of miles of diverse trails, from desert tracks marked by cairns in the south to rocky, high-altitude forest paths in the north. Popular destinations include the Gila Wilderness and Bandelier National Monument.
In this article, we’re going to discuss backpacking in New Mexico from an ultralight perspective. We’ll share important tips to help you prepare for your upcoming outdoor adventure.
We’ll showcase the TOP 5 trails in New Mexico, divided into two groups: day hikes covering less than 30 miles and multi-day trips with convenient water resupply points every few days.
Embark on these day hikes and experience the utility of your ultralight gear:
Check out these awesome backpacking trails in New Mexico, where you’ll find water resupply points every two days:
New Mexico has variable weather due to its deserts and mountains. Summers are hot while winters are cold as seasons change significantly. Remember weather details depend on location within the state:
Before making your gear selection, take a look at the weather statistics for New Mexico (Santa Fe):
Campfires are permitted while backpacking in many areas of New Mexico, but there are important guidelines to follow. In National Forests and BLM lands, campfires typically require obtaining a free permit from the ranger station, and may be prohibited during dry conditions when fire risk is high. Within National Parks like Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands, fires are restricted to designated grills and rings only – no ground fires allowed. Certain wilderness areas and state parks may prohibit campfires year-round to preserve the pristine landscape. Where campfires are allowed, it’s crucial to use existing fire rings when available, gather only dead and down wood, keep the fire small, and fully extinguish it before leaving. Portable camp stoves are a great low-impact alternative for cooking meals. By securing permits, adhering to area-specific regulations, practicing leave no trace fire principles, and exercising caution, you can enjoy campfires responsibly during your backpacking adventures in New Mexico’s immense wilderness areas. But always confirm requirements beforehand to follow guidelines protecting the state’s fragile natural habitats.
When encountering wildlife in New Mexico’s backcountry, stay calm, keep your distance, and never approach or feed the animals. Talk loudly or sing to alert bears, mountain lions, and other large mammals to your presence and avoid surprising them. Give them a clear escape route. If necessary, slowly back away without turning your back. Review best practices for using bear spray safely and effectively if you choose to carry it. Report aggressive animals to rangers.
Venture into New Mexico’s majestic wilderness for an adventurous backpacking trip immersed in nature, but be sure to plan and prepare. Acquire a detailed trail map before following winding canyon and mesa paths, and inform others of your intended route. Pack brightly colored clothing, first-aid supplies, flashlights, whistles and extra water to stay safe in the arid climate. Watch your footing hiking over rocky desert terrain. Make noise to avoid surprising bears, mountain lions or rattlesnakes. Stay hydrated and focused to fully embrace New Mexico’s natural splendor while keeping safety a priority. With adequate precautions taken, you can revel in the beauty of New Mexico’s backcountry. Stay vigilant, be ready for the unexpected, and remember prudent planning prevents poor performance on a New Mexico backpacking adventure.