No short text The Cowles campground is primarily a tent campground along the Winsor Creek, near the Rio Pecos. It is close to the Cowles ponds, where fishing is popular.

Campground data:

Controlling agency: Santa Fe National Forest; Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District
Official URL:Forest service web page
Region: North-central; Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
north of Pecos
CG elevation: 8198ft; 2499m
Campsite count: 9.
Visual density: 6.00. visual density from memory
Fee: $6.00.
Season: April 01 to October 31. Season depends on the weather.
Dogs: Yes. on leash
Horses: Unknown.
Handicapped accessible: Unknown.
General tent notes: 6 sites are tent-only and have shelters.
RV max length: 32ft; 10m
RV parking surface: pavement
RV pull-through spaces? No.
Campground facilities: water (hand-pumped), trash can(s), vault toilet(s), cooking grill, tent-only (no RV) camping area.
Campground attractions: hiking, fishing, stream.

When we visited it:

Date: 2001-09-22
Cleanliness: 8.


Waypoint Type Description
CWLSCGCampgroundCowles campground


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.
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 (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 town of Pecos, NM, take New Mexico 63 north. Cross the river near a sign pointing to the Holy Ghost campground (do not take the road to the Holy Ghost campground). Near the Terrero General Store (which offers showers for $5.00), the road makes a sharp right turn, but there is really no other place to go. At Cowles, take the bridge across the river. The campground will be on your right in 0.25 mile or less.

Note that the road from Pecos is narrow and it has many sharp turns. Expect to take at least an hour to get from Pecos to the campground.

No short text

About the campground:

A tent and shelter at the campground
This campground has two sites which have shelters like this one. These might come in handy in the summertime when thunderstorms are common. I strongly suspect that these two sites go quickly, so if you want one, plan on arriving early.
With one exception, the rest of the sites are out in this field. Fine for picnicking or if you take your tent out to near a table.
Field with most of the rest of the campsites
Winsor Stream
The campground is situated alongside the Winsor stream. To the left is a view of it as it passes the campground.

Plants we saw around the campground:

Odd, but it appears we have no plants recorded.

Reader comments about this campground:

On Sat Jul 12 23:50:50 2003 backpacker from tylertx said:
We used this campground as a base for a 5 day backpacking trek June 813 2003. Bascially good only as a base camp or for excellent fishing in the pond and river closeby. Trail 271 to Stewart Lake starts here. Thanks for the site very informative and accurate.

On Wed Jan 14 14:48:27 2004 Chuck Ferguson from Albuquerque NM said:
I used this campground on the night before a 3day trip up to Lake Katherine. The trip was at the end of September 2003.

We arrived at about 5 p.m. and set up camp. There was no one else there and we took the farthest east shelter. There was some wood already cut to make a fire with and the shelter had a nice little fireplace at the end. My friend and I didn't even set up tents and instead we just laid our sleeping bags out on the floor of the shelter. The fire kept us warm the whole night!

Heres the bad part: We weren't alone after about 930 p.m. when a truck full of hoodlums showed up and partied until around 4 a.m. They brought a boom box and played gangster rap music all night with no regard at all for anyone else. They passed out in the bed of their truck and you can be damned sure we weren't quiet in the morning when we packed up and left.

Alas, I digress. We were there on a Friday night before a weekend when the hunting season begins so we should have expected some sort of trouble. Overall this campground is very nice and its a great starting point for the Windsor area of the Pecos! I also would guess that this campground isn't used as much as the larger ones in the area too.

On Sun Jul 22 16:43:45 2007 Nick from Albuquerque, NM said:
Very impressed with the cleanliness of the campsite. It was very well kept. We managed to get a site with a shelter considering the large amount of people that were there. It kept us dry during the heavy rain and it was nice to relax and enjoy a fire in. However, it was hard to get wood. We had to buy a bundle of wood, from the Terreo General Store for a steep price of 10.00 a bundle which was roughly about 10 logs. But don't think that because you have to pay that it will eliminate a bad crowd, we experienced the best the ghetto had to offer with the crowd of people that came late Saturday, with their guns and beer and late night screaming. But overall it was a great experience and I will go again, Thanks.

On Tue May 6 08:43:47 2008 Ruby from Santa Fe said:
Nice, but busy. If you want to get away from it all, then it just might follow you, especially in the popular season. The Windsor is great, but well known, and traveled. It's also right there at the campsite, so hikers, and even dog walkers may taint your escape.

On Sun Jan 10 08:19:32 2010 Jay Love from Largo, Fl said:
As a young boy in the seventies my father and I stayed here at Cowels, I suspect things have changed a bit since that time as I recall a more robust little village here at Cowels proper? there was actually an old log cabin lodge where one could stay for a fee, and they also had several small out cabins as well? the lodge had shared bathrooms and the cabins had a private bath. they were far from grand, but very nice in a rustic sort of way? also adjacent from the lodge was a horse outfitter that rented horses by the hour/day and across the bustling stream in the side of the mountain was a natural cave that extended about one mile into the side of the mountain. I spent several summers going back to this area as it was always a favorite of mine, even when we camped other places I would badger my dad into stopping by just to explore the cave again? I have no idea if any of these amenities are still open or even there as I have not been back in over 30 years? I have always wanted to go back to see, as I recall even back then there were always a handfull of young people camping out there and exploring that cave. its a wonderful spot and I have many happy memories of it. NM is a great state to explore, I hope to move back one day soon.

On Tue Feb 2 11:22:51 2010 Patrick Kirksey from midland tx. said:
As a youngster in the 50s & 60s our family owned a two story cabin on the Winsor Creek. My Grandfather, E.H Griswald, on my mothers side, lived in this cabin for years before selling it to his kids for $1.00 per share. He moved down to terrero into a beutifull cabin with lots of land around.

I spent many a summer fishing and horseback riding the pecos from Bettys cabin, mount baldy, spirit lake and exploring many caves and valleys. We had our own horses and would take them up early, leave them in Terrero to get used to the altitude. We spent a few Christmas' at the cabin. We were snowed in for two weeks. The only other person we saw during that trip was the ranch hand who was taking care of the O'bannon Place. He stayed pretty drunk through the winter, I believe he got pretty lonely durring the winter months.

The McKneses had a cabin down the winsor from us. Becky was my 1st love, David was my fishing buddy. Cowles had a rec hall and riding stables,a resterant and little store at that time. Life was as good as the fishing on the Winsor back then.

I've returned to the Winsor a few times over the years. Former Govenor Anya, bought the Cabin and painted it PINK.

I did get to see the Mckneses and Becky in the early 80s. That was nice. I took my daughters up and camped at the Trail Head. Did a bunch of fishing and reminising. I've since heard the cabin is gone. Might as well be I recon, A pink cabin just didn't fit.

Nothing could be better than having and keeping those memories. Did I mention Geronimoes? Probably best I didn't.

The pecos River is chrystal clear, Unlike down towards Roswell, where I lived yeasrs later. I would love to take a trip back to the winsor one of these days. Perhaps it's best to just keep the memories where they are, in my heart. I do wonder though if anyone ever found my box of treasures I buried under a tree along the Winsor back in 1958.

Thanks for the meomories, Cowles.

Patrick Kirksey,

On Wed Jun 1 08:28:43 2011 Chris from Albuquerque NM said:
Cowles is located in lovely river drainage. The main river being the Pecos, the creek flowing through Cowles CG is the Windsor Creek. I enjoyed the nostaligic comments above and wished I'd been here in the 50s or 60s. We went camping the memorial day and it was more like a zoo! Lots of beer drinking locals. One group that stayed near us looked like they'd just got out of a street gang meeting. We worried they'd party all night, but in the morning they left. I asked them why they only stayed one night. The tatto'd guy said, "oh we camped downstreat a ways, but got kicked out of the camp groud".

The CG was noisy and the people, though not rude, seemed incapable of understanding that some people like peace and quiet.

My recommendation is come during the week and not on a weekend and definelty not on a major holiday.

On Sun Aug 28 11:32:02 2011 Happy NM Hiker from Albuquerque said:
We came to the Pecos originally to tent camp and do a day hike to Stewart Lake (the trailhead is right across from Cowles Campground). We were very disappointed when we came to Cowles Campground. While it is in a beautiful part of the Pecos Forest, with a very nice stream running close by, this campground is flat, open, crowded, and RIGHT next to the road. We got there early on a Sat morn and the one campsite with shade was taken. All the other campsites were in a field between two roads. We decided to drive up the road to Jack's Creek Campground (which is about 3-5 miles up the road). I would suggest this to ANYONE wanting to stay at Cowles Campground. Jack's Creek is VERY has individual loops where you can camp (so each campsite is far off the road). We were there on a Sat and Sun and had only two neighbors (who were extremely friendly and respectful). Our campsite was quiet, nestled in a BEAUTFUL aspen forest, and we took a perfect 4 mile round trip day hike to a pristine meadow.

On Mon Jul 25 15:48:12 2016 Tabatha from Rio Rancho NM said:
This was a lovely spot to camp. we went up on a Friday july 22 evening. most of the campsites were full (we got there after sunset). there were only about 3 or 4 sites with shelters. the Windsor creek runs on the north side of the site. it was fairly quiet even though it was close to the road and the site was fairly full (the road was on the other side of the stream but there are trees along that stream that help break down noise from the road). the one down side I found to this site was that the parking area is very small and unless you are lucky enough to get a site next tot the parking space you have to haul your stuff pretty far. it is very open so you will see and hear your neighbors but it was nice and really close to the ponds. although there are restrooms when the site is full the TP runs out fast.

On Sat Sep 21 00:17:57 2019 Rick B. from Rowe, NM said:
Too crowded. Do you people not have real jobs?

On Fri Jul 3 17:52:30 2020 Anonymous from Oklahoma said:
My cousin from Santa Fe took me to cowles in the early 1980s. There were some very cool cabins up there. I understood that it was land owned by the forest service or similar but they had allowed individuals to build rather rustic little cabins there. Not really sure about the details tho.

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