Sunset Reef Campground
- Date Visited: February 1-4, 2021
- Address: Washington Ranch Road, Carlsbad, NM 88220
- GPS: 32.1095, -104.4253
- Price: Free
- Reservations: No
- Stay Limit: 5 Nights
- Pets: Yes
- Restrooms: Yes
- Water: No
- Trash: Yes
- Hookups: No
- Cell Service: 4G on AT&T and 4G on Verizon
Sunset Reef Campground is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is only a little over a year old. In an old life it was an oil and gas well pad, but now it is equipped with 11 developed campsites. There are five designated RV spaces and six tent sites. Each site has a very nice covered picnic table and a grill. There is an extremely clean vault toilet on site and multiple trashcans scattered about.
There is no water or hookups at the campground so this is dry camping. We had great cell phone service while camping there. Although there are only 11 designated sites there is room for many more rigs. While we were there people just lined up there rigs around the perimeter by the fence. So many more vehicles could park here and any size rig will fit. The stay limit is five nights. Campsites are on a first come, first serve basis.
There is plenty of sun here so if you’re running on solar you will have no issues. If you have to run a generator keep in mind quiet hours are 10 pm-6 am. Pets are also allowed at the campground as long as you keep them on a leash. Also please make sure you clean up after them. There are some home-made fire rings at the camp, but you have to bring your own wood. This is a desert so not really anything lying around to burn.
Also it can get very windy here at times. A couple nights the winds were really whipping through the camp. I was grateful for the big rigs on either side of us that blocked some of that wind from blowing Frankenstein around more.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is only 15 minutes away from camp and it is an awesome place to visit. The caverns are pretty darn impressive. White’s City Fuel on the way to the caverns has propane and gas and there is an ice and water machine in the parking lot. There’s a building beside the gas station that has some food, a gift shop, post office and laundromat. Literally everything you need is in the same parking lot.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is only 45 minutes away from camp. We didn’t know much about this park until we visited and were pleasantly surprised. It’s a completely underrated national park you should definitely at least spend the day at. Sunset Reef is the closest free campground we could find to the park.
We really enjoyed our time at Sunset Reef and met a lot of cool people. It’s a nice looking camp providing basic needs. We hit a lot of camps in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no amenities. Having a vault toilet and a trashcan is a luxury for us lol. This campground is a perfect location to visit two great national parks. The views are pretty great as well.
If you want to spend more time in the area there is plenty of BLM land within minutes of the campground to boondock in. Mile 10 dispersed camping is literally right across the highway. We stayed there for a week too.
Always follow the Leave No Trace Seven Principles and try to leave your camp nicer than you found it. Please research campgrounds before visiting. Rules and regulations may have changed since we stayed there.