The Gila National Forest is a popular destination in southern New Mexico, especially during seasons that offer comfortable temperatures. The main attraction is the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The National Monument boundaries only cover a small portion of this region and there are no campgrounds on location. This is where the surrounding Gila National Forest fits into the picture, because there are plenty of camping options in this vast wilderness area.
"Not all National Forest campgrounds are created equal" is something to keep in mind when browsing for campgrounds on a map. Some offer all modern accommodations and others are as rustic as can be. Not all NFS campgrounds are accessible by passenger car or RV and knowing this information can help to prevent major headaches. The campground size also makes a difference, especially on a busy weekend.
In reality, most people on vacation do tend to meander and the vacation plan becomes a distant memory shortly after the fun begins. This mode of travel does present the challenge of gathering campground information while on the go, which can be nearly impossible if there is no data signal to be found. GPS systems do not always list specific information about campgrounds, so the best option is to browse the National Forest website where there is a cel phone signal near a local town. Better yet, just look for the local National Forest Ranger Station, because the crew will have all the answers and they may offer some good advice as well.
The Gila National Forest has a wide ranging venue of campgrounds and one of the tiniest is the Kingston Campground in the southeast end of the forest. The Kingston Campground is a few miles west of Hillsboro on New Mexico State Road 152, so it is easy to find. It is a long drive to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument when coming from an easterly direction and this campground is located just inside the National Forest east border, so it appeals to drivers that are too weary to continue down the road.
The Kingston Campground definitely is small and there are actually only two campsites. There is a facility on site, fire rings, running water and picnic tables, so this tiny campground is a comfortable place to be. The downside has to do with a livestock barn being next door. There were domestic cats hunting in the tall grass, which usually means that there are lots of rodents around. Based upon observation, the cozy looking tiny Kingston Campground is likely better suited for RV camping rather than tent camping.
Because of the tiny size of the Kingston Campground, this spot serves as being more of a roadside rest area and it is best to leave it at that. The neighboring farm community of Kingston has a few old timber buildings that are good material for photographers, so this is a nice place to take a break from the road. Driver fatigue is something to be aware of in these parts, because it is guaranteed to be a very long drive to anywhere you go in enchanting New Mexico!
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