Rocky Bay Primitive Campground at Brantlay Lake State Park

Brantley Dam and Lake
Brantley Lake State Park surrounds the southernmost lake in New Mexico. Full of desert plants and animals, it is an oasis. You can enjoy all of the normal water activities here, as well as many special events such as kite flying and fishing clinics.

The Rocky Bay campground is the primitive campground in the park. It has no direct services other than trash cans scattered around.

Campground data:

Controlling agency: New Mexico State Parks; Brantley Lake
Region: Southeast; Carlsbad area.
CG elevation: 6512ft; 1985m
Campsite count: 40. There are no set campsites, so the actual number depends on how closely people are willing to park. With several miles of shoreline on which to camp, there is normally plenty of room.
Visual density: 0.00. Visual density depends on how many people are near you.
Fee: $8.00.
Season: All year. Summer is hot.
Dogs: Yes. on leash
Horses: Unknown.
Handicapped accessible: Unknown.
General tent notes: Lots of great tent areas.
RV parking surface: dirt
RV pull-through spaces? Unknown.
General notes: If you camp in the tamarix, the mosquitos come out in force at night.

They sell ice at the visitor center.

Campground facilities: water (at the visitor center and the developed Limestone campground.), trash can(s), showers (at developed Limestone campground.), RV dump station.
Campground attractions: wildlife, wildflowers, fishing, boating, swimming, scenery, lake, geology (see the geologic tour of Brantley Lake State Park for details), year-round access.

When we visited it:

Date: 2009-05-23 2001-05-13
Cleanliness: 9. 9.


Waypoint Type Description
Brantly Prm CGCampgroundRocky Bay primitive campground at Brantley Lake State Park


Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
Carlsbad Caverns National Park National Geographic Trails Illustrated 2001 1:34500 Y from Amazon (purchase) Includes a map of Carlsbad Cavern on the back.
Lincoln National Forest, Guadalupe Ranger District US Forest Service 2003 1:126720 N from Amazon (purchase)
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 Carlsbad, head north on US 285. At the signs for the southern entrance to Brantley Lake State Park, turn and drive about 15 miles in to the park.

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About the campground:

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This camping area is quite popular, with tent cities being common on busy weekends.
However, there is a network of roads throught the salt cedar. If you are willing to be a little away from the lake edge, you can often find isolated places to camp.
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What the primitive campground looks like
The primitive campground is here amongst the salt cedar. The sign as you enter says, "Leave no trace". However, there are several fire rings; that is not "no trace" in my book.
The primitive campground is very close to the lake. You can camp right on the shore if you want to.
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Plants we saw around the campground:

Reader comments about this campground:

On Tue Mar 13 08:14:28 2007 Steve from Klecknersville, PA said:
We stayed in the primitive campground after a visit to Carlsbad. The only negative was that we could hear a motor running in the distance through the night---probably some kind of pump for the dam. Other than that it was great---and the showers on site were a plus.

On Thu May 29 10:16:45 2008 NOT A HAPPY CAMPER from Artesia, N.M. said:
Memorial weekend 2008 my family and 4 other familys were camping together at one of the primitive pay sites. The Rangers did not treat us as paying guests they treated us as tresspasser on their property, They were not friendly at all. On this lake you can pay to camp on the primitive side or you can camp on the west side for free. the pay side offers one bathroom in a central location, boat ramp and militant Rangers. The free side offers no bathroom and you can launch your boat from the shore in most places and avoid the not so friendly Rangers, after this weekend we choose the free side.

On Thu Dec 2 23:00:59 2010 Anonymous from el paso said:
If you stay on the primitive side can you still use all the facilities on the developed side? Also it said there werent any grill on the primitive side and you use a fire pit to cook?

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