Only an hour into the Lincoln National Forest of New Mexico, find escape at Bluff Springs Waterfall with a short drive and a quick staircase to peaceful, easy camping. This spring-fed waterfall sits atop a hundred-foot plateau merely a hundred-yards from the spring, you can set your tent on top of the waterfall with clear views into the ridge at sunset.

A mile up in elevation and only a few miles into Lincoln National Forest from Alamogordo, take off on the scenic Sunspot Highway that leads to the solar observation center before a short detour off a dirt road that arrives at Bluff Springs Waterfall (camping is free on all dirt roads). There you'll be greeted by the beautiful Bluff Springs Waterfall right off the road, facing east into the mountain ridge and the pine valleys all around. The waterfall is fed by a spring just yards away on a flat plateau will ample space for all tents and recreation, right where the waterfall drops over the edge. The spring is drinkable and potable year round, and makes for a peaceful ambience along with the gentle winds blowing in the valley.

The recreation area is a popular destination for RVs, families, and campers during the summer, but the plateau is generally alone - RVs are restricted to the parking below, and in my half-dozen encampments I've been the only tent atop the plateau every time. Bluff Springs is surrounded by a network of trails that range from 1.5-mile loops to full 12-mile treks into the forest, and serves as a great jump off spot for any number of activities in the greater Cloudcroft area - Cloudcroft is populated with outfitters for bike riding, hiking, trekking, and there are dozens of trails for all skill levels at various elevations - I completed different loops every time I went and never got bored. From the beautiful Sunspot ridge trails that overlook the White Sands National Monument below to the Hill Rolls area hikes that follow the 19th-century railroad tracks up the canyon and into the forest, there's no shortage of beauty and peace to be found.

Stay at the tent and get cozy around a campfire, or take off on a full-day of exploration. Either way, there's no better place to call headquarters in the western part of the forest than at Bluff Springs.

(Pro tip: Springtime brings large flower blooms in the waterfall plateau, where your mornings are greeted with a rainbow of colors).

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Firewood
  • Drinks - stop at the Apple Top cidery on the way up the mountain for their homemade Cherry Cider.
  • Food - at the same cidery, pick up a couple blocks of their homemade Pistachio fudge. Trust me.
  • Blanket (at 9500 feet, I've experienced sub-freezing temps in July).
  • No waste equipment needed, bathrooms are available in the RV area.
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RT Distance 0 Miles
Elevation Gain 100 Feet
Activities Cycling, Chillin, Camping, Photography, Mountain Biking, Running, Yoga, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Adult Beverages
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Forest
Groups
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Beautiful

I went with a bunch of friends for 2 nights and it was absolutely great. I love the location. Beautiful trails and you can hear a lot of birds. Bathrooms are dirty but the overall experience was great.


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