Black Canyon

Site 27

Black Canyon is a great campground in a Pine/Douglas-fir forest. It is near Santa Fe, but far enough away to be relaxing and a nice change of pace. It is the trailhead for the Black Canyon hike.

This campground is close to the Hyde Memorial State Park campground. Hyde Park has more facilities, but Black Canyon is a delightfully peaceful and attractive campground that is one of our favorites.

Campground data:

Controlling agency: Santa Fe National Forest; Española Ranger District
Official URL:Forest Service campground web page
Region: North-central; Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
CG elevation: 8310ft; 2533m
Campsite count: 36. 6 walk-in sites for tent camping.
Visual density: 7.50. Visual density seems pretty constant at 7--8.
Fee: $10.00. per vehicle per night
Season: April 01 to November 30. Season depends on weather
Dogs: Yes. on leash
Horses: Unknown.
Handicapped accessible: Yes. The forest service says that 30 of the sites are accessible.
General tent notes: Six sites are reserved for tents. Most (all?) sites have tent pads.
RV max length: 65ft; 20m
RV parking surface: pavement
RV pull-through spaces? No.
General notes: This campground often fills up. You should arrive early. It was full by early afternoon Saturday 2002-08-10 and mostly full early evening Sunday 2002-08-11. 2004-08-28 it was around 3/4 full. Drive-in sites were full Saturday 2012-09-15. 2015-08-22 all but the tent sites were full by 10am.

Reservations may be made online at www.recreation.gov. This campground often has half or more of the sites reserved.

Campground facilities: tent-only (no RV) camping area, reservation sites, trash can(s), water (Season permitting), vault toilet(s) (Campsites next to the toilets (such as 26) get regular smells from the toilets on the breeze. Even calm days have a slight breeze up- or down-canyon carrying the toilet smell.), fire pit (Many have grates for cooking.).
Campground attractions: hiking (A trail leaves from the back of the campground and several others are nearby.), wildlife (Many fat chipmunks, as well as squirrels, birds, and occasionally a bear at night.), wildflowers.

When we visited it:

Date: 2002-08-11 2004-08-20 2012-09-15
Cleanliness: 8. Guys seemed incapable of peeing in the pit toilet, making the men's restrooms messier than they should be. 8. The restrooms were cleaner, but still smelly. 9. Only a few small pieces of litter in our campsite. Bathrooms are much improved over earlier reports.

Waypoints:

Waypoint Type Description
BLKCYNCampgroundBlack Canyon campground

Maps:

Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah Automobile Club of Southern California 1998 1:0 N from Amazon (purchase) Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.
McClure Reservoir USGS 1976 1:24000 Y from sar.lanl.gov (free)
Pecos Wilderness, Santa Fe and Carson National Forests US Forest Service 2004 1:54000 Y from Amazon (purchase)
Santa Fe BLM 1996 1:100000 Y from Amazon (purchase)
Santa Fe USGS 1954 1:250000 Y from sar.lanl.gov (free)
Santa Fe National Forest US Forest Service 2004 1:126720 N from Amazon (purchase) East half
Wildernesses of New Mexico US Forest Service 1981 1:1000000 N No online copies. Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.

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Getting to the campground:

From the Santa Fe Plaza, head north on Washington Ave. Just past the pink Scottish Rite Temple (which is on the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Washington), turn right on Artist road; the sign says that Hyde State Park and the Santa Fe Ski Basin are this way. Drive just under seven miles and you will see the sign for the campground on your right.
Entrance sign

About the campground:

Diana sitting in campsite 21
All of the campsites are in the Douglas-fir forest, and hence shade is readily available---this is a plus in the summertime, even at the elevation of this campsite. To the left, you can see Diana sitting in the sun at campsite 21.

This campground is notable for the (fat) chipmunks who live here. Clearly, we drop plenty of food, and I suspect that the campers also offer them food. One of our neighbors recounted a tale of a chipmunk trying to make off with an apple that was bigger than it was (the apple was softball-sized). The chipmunk was rolling it down the hill for quite a ways before it finally gave up and left its prize. However, the apple did not go to waste, as we noticed that it disappeared in the night, obviously the prize for some other animal.

To the right, you can see one of the chipmunks. They are cautious of people, so getting this picture required a great deal of patience on my part.

A chipmunk at the campground
A squirrel in the campground
In addition to chipmunks, two types of squirrels---Abert's and some smaller species (pictured here)---make their home in the campground. They are shier than the chipmunks, preferring to scold from the heights.

To the right, you can see site 27, which shows an unoccupied site.

Other sites of interest: Sites 34 and 36 are near water without being next to the restrooms. Site 26 (of which I have no photo) looks like the most secluded site. Site 32 is somewhat apart from the others also.

Campsite 27

Plants we saw around the campground:

Reader comments about this campground:

On Thu Jul 3 13:08:44 2003 Megan M. from Denver CO said:
Thank you so much for creating this site. We are heading there this weekend and came across the site just by chance. Very helpful.
Megan

On Sun Aug 10 20:18:58 2003 Caroline from Austin Texas said:
Extremely convenient to Sante Fe, yet removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. Go to the spa 10000 Waves located down the road for a relaxing evening in communal hot tub and a hot shower!

On Wed Jun 22 14:55:59 2005 Frank Wirtz from Corrales, NM said:
Hi...

We camped here Memorial Day weekend '04 (or was it '03?)

This was a pretty campground, but I can't say it was a quiet one. There were some high school / college folks up there with portable stereos, and it got a little loud at times. There is water available, and while the water is potable, I'm not sure it can be described as palatable.

A nice, short loop trail out of the campground, and longer trails available up the road towards the ski area. If it were not for the noise, we would have enjoyed this area very much!

-f-

On Sun Jul 8 17:15:04 2007 tim o from albuquerque said:
I have camped at a lot of sites around the state and this site with its new updates is now the best that I have been too since we started using our new camper two years ago. The camp ground re-opened up in May of 07 after being closed for two years and was nearly full every night that we were there. It is all black topped now with nice fire pits and very clean restrooms. If you have not been to this site before give it a try. It is nicer than the state park just up the road, but don't tell anyone. This site is only 7 miles from Santa Fe which made my wife very happy and since I get to camp I am happy too. Check it out. you will not be unhappy. tim O-

On Sun Jun 15 16:41:26 2008 Anonymous from Albuquerque, NM said:
Father's day weekend 2008. We have just returned from Black Canyon. It was the cleanest campground I have ever been to! It was beautiful! The hiking trail is great for beginners or those with kids, but very much a climb. We have an 8 man tent and it just barely fit on the tent pad. The one car sites are for much smaller tents or RVs. We had campsite #23 for 2 vehicles. It is one of the more secluded sites. Throughout the campground, the neighbors are very close but we didn't mind. Friday night was very quiet, we thought we were probably making too much noise with kids and all but Saturday, a few more kids showed up and it was a little more lively-nothing too bad or loud though. Nice clean bathrooms. Beautiful Aspens! We saw squirrels, a chipmunk, deer (while driving in), lots of insect life, and humming birds.

On Sun Aug 3 19:50:09 2008 Anonymous from Albuquerque, NM said:
We just returned from our first trip to Black Canyon. It is a beautiful campground...much nicer than the Hyde Memorial State Park campground. Very clean and the road and parking sites have been paved. We camped in site 26, which had a great double parking area, two picnic tables, and was close to the bathrooms and water. The hiking trails are great and the stream near the walk in sites was great fun for the kids to play in. We will be back.

On Sun Aug 31 14:15:25 2008 Matt T. from Albuquerque, NM said:
Thanks so much for all the great information you've provided on this website! We just returned from a 1-night stay, and it was great despite the rainy weather! The campground was full as expected (Labor Day weekend), but not too loud at all. There were many families with children, and everyone seemed friendly. The hosts drove through the campground several times to check up on things, and there were many people taking walks through the campground and up the trail. The restrooms were clean, as were the grounds themselves. Definitely heading back to this place for another stay!

On Wed Oct 1 22:00:54 2008 Jasmine from Albuquerque, NM said:
Camped here the last weekend of September. Beautiful campground and friendly camp host. Sites are very close together and offer no privacy. Clean restrooms with fresh water and grey water disposal. Pay phone. Campers need to pick up after their dogs. Campground was very clean other than the occasional dog poo. Overall, very nice experience.

On Wed May 20 21:36:30 2009 Jason Evans from Albuquerque said:
We stayed last september and it was nice, but the bee's were horrible. They did not sting they would bite you! Does anyone know if there are there in June? We want to return becasue it was a very nice campground, but I do not want bees!

On Fri Jun 26 18:37:56 2009 Mojo from Durango said:
Campground is clean with paved roads and sites. Plenty of tall pines and shade. Much more accessible for RV's and trailers than Hyde Park. Some sites will have the table and fire pit on the street side of your camper and not on the door/awning side. It's close and handy to Santa Fe, but seems like a lot of drive through lookers. Lock down everything you leave outside...someone stole my folding chaise lounger right out of the campsite!!!

On Thu Apr 8 13:29:35 2010 Keith W from Flower Mound, TX said:
My son and I stayed there last August and plan on visiting again. It's only about 15-20 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, but you'd never know it from the campground. We used a tent camping site, which was almost completely paved, other than a small dirt area for the tent. And I must emphasize "small". If you have a larger tent (more than a 3-person), do yourself a favor and DON'T reserve a tent space.

Be sure to make a reservation. We saw several people turned away who didn't have one.

On Tue Aug 17 09:41:58 2010 Soft Core Campers from Santa Fe, NM said:
On a whim, packed our camping gear in our 95 corolla and headed to Black Canyon about 15-20 minutes from our house in Santa Fe. Arrived at about 7pm. Built a fire, cooked dinner, played some games, read some ghost stories, had some smores and left early the next morning. All for about $36 dollars for food, gas and campsite. Great time, highly recommended for anyone from Santa Fe looking for a perfect evening.

On Sun May 15 13:19:22 2016 Anonymous from ABQ, NM said:
Very rude and nosy campground host May 2016, patrolled every 30-45 minutes, made us move our tents from a reasonable distance to immediately next to the campsite pad, complained the tents were being destructive of the vegetation (sparse grass, mostly our tents were on pine needles), and said we should have a larger campsite for 3 tents next time--but also said there wasn't a tent limit per campsite. Really soured our experience.

On Sat Jul 16 13:15:48 2016 D. Porter from Rio Rancho, NM said:
Very clean, well-maintained campground with the nicest vault bathrooms I've ever seen. Every site has a tent pad but many of them would be too small for very large family tents. Rock walls around the sites and lantern poles are a nice touch.

Note for RV campers: Several of the sites are too small to accommodate larger RVs (check Recreation.gov for maximum lengths) and none of the water faucets have a hose connection. There is a dump station just up the road from the campground but the water is turned off.

On Tue Sep 13 12:14:24 2016 Kumar from Coppell Tx said:
Do the allow dogs in the tent camping. I am hearing mixed information from places and is not clear. You help is appreciated.

On Thu Jan 26 09:48:55 2017 Steve from Little Rock, AR said:
Very clean campground, great hosts in October 2015. Firewood was available for purchase from host. Our neighbors had dogs and children but all were delightful so no issues. An honest to goodness pay phone was located near the entrance! Very quiet campground, lots of roominess. Made reservations prior to the trip without incident. This is one to come back to in the future.

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