15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in New Mexico

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black labrador is chilling at the white sands national park in a dog friendly vacation in new mexico

When you think of New Mexico, you may be reminded of Roswell and the UFO scare of 1947. However, the state is much more than that. The state has an estimated 2.1 million residents and 350,000 dogs and, is home to the Rocky Mountains, Ancient Pueblo People, and has the highest city in the country, Santa Fe, which is 7,198 feet above sea level. It is also the only spot with four bordering states at one point. 

With highs in the 50s in the winter and upper 80s in the summer, some may consider New Mexico the perfect climate. It is very dry but has mountains covered in snow, so you can enjoy all four seasons in the state. This makes it a very popular state for outdoor activities. You will find 35 state parks and thousands of county, city, and community parks to enjoy. 

The city also has over 2,000 dog-friendly vacation rentals, including hotels, motels, resorts, and campgrounds. You and your pooch can also dine at more than 550 pup popular restaurants, play at 62 off-leash dog parks, and hike on more than 100 trails. We listed our top 15 favorite dog-friendly vacation destinations to help you out. 

Santa Fe 

Couples with dogs love Santa Fe because they have so many dog-friendly activities as well as some romantic spots to share together. The first thing to do is to book a room at one of the pet-friendly bed and breakfasts. The Bobcat Inn is a colorful place where each room is different and they serve your dog a box filled with treats, toys, bowls, and blankets. Casa de Tres Lunas is also a great choice and they give Woof Welcome Baskets as well. 

Instead of a horse and carriage ride, you and your sweetie can get a pedicab ride driven by a bicycle, and your pup is welcome too. They offer several different tours to choose from, all dog-friendly. Then, you can all meander through the gardens at Nedra Matteucci Galleries to see the sculptures, flowers, and fountain. 

Fill a cooler with food and you can all enjoy a picnic lunch by some incredible waterfalls at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at Nambe Waterfalls. 


With 572,000 people and about 95,000 dogs, Albuquerque has a lot to offer everyone on your family vacation. The largest attraction in the city is Cliff’s Amusement Park. It has 25 carnival rides with three roller coasters and four water rides. But Fido has to stay with a sitter like Beck N Call Pet Services or Fetch Pet Care. They both provide a lot of fun activities and safe play, so you do not have to feel guilty for leaving him.

If you want something more mellow than an amusement park, take the family to ABQ BioPark Zoo. They have more than 250 species, like koala bears, monkeys, and tigers. There are 64 acres with a Catwalk for lions, Inukshuk Bay for the polar bears, and the Mexican Wolf Exhibit. 

Don’t miss the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History while you are in town. It is one of the only dog-friendly museums in the country where pups are allowed inside. 

Carson National Forest 

Carson National Forest is dog-friendly and has nearly 1.4 million acres of woods, rivers, lakes, and streams as well as mountains, cliffs, and canyons. It is split into six different wilderness areas and has some of the highest summits in the state. Wheeler Peak is 13,167 feet, Venado Peak is 12,739 feet, and Gold Hill is 12,700 feet. The mountains are perfect for skiing in the winter and hiking the rest of the year. 

With so much to do, you may as well book a campsite at one of the 30 campgrounds in the forest. There are more than 300 campsites with most of them at McCrystal Campground in Valle Vidal. It has 55 sites with tables, fire pits, and toilets. There are also hundreds of lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams to fish for trout, crappie, catfish, and bass.

Do you like mysteries? The Rio Grande Adventurer is a unique activity for pups and their humans, where you will solve clues around town on a scavenger hunt to solve a mystery. 

Las Cruces 

Take a weekend getaway in Las Cruces with your fur buddy, where you are likely going to run into other pet parents and their pups, with about 111,000 residents and 18,000 dogs. The city boasts several awesome dog parks, including Burn Lake Dog Park. It is more like a pooch playground with all of the agility stations, obstacles, and fun equipment to play on. They also have a separate small dog space, water fountains, waste stations with bags, and shade shelters with benches. 

If your dog likes diving or agility training, take him to Las Cruces Dock Diving and K9 Event Center. You have to set an appointment, but this place has everything. And it is all indoors, so you do not have to worry about the sweltering heat of the desert outside. 

After working up an appetite and a thirst, head to Luna Rossa Winery & Pizza. They have an extensive list of incredible wines and handmade pizzas, and your pup is welcome on the patio.


Located in southeastern New Mexico, you may have heard of Roswell because of its TV shows or the famous UFO incident of 1947. In fact, the city embraces the alien theme with a variety of attractions like the International UFO Museum & Research Center, where dogs are actually allowed inside. The population is only 48,000, with an estimated 8,000 cuddly canines, but if you visit any dog park, you will surely see at least one of the local pups.

But first, take your cuddly canine companion to Roswell UFO Spacewalk. The vibrant colors of the blacklight art are incredible. You will feel like you are on a spaceship and a different planet. They even have special artwork and alien toys at the gift shop. Your pooch is welcome as long as he is on a leash.   

Finally, your fur buddy will love spending time at the Woof Bowl Dog Park. It is right next to the football stadium and has agility equipment, shade trees, and a separate small dog area.  

White Sands National Park 

The desert may not be the best place to bring your fur baby during the summer. Especially in southern New Mexico where the average highs are in the triple digits. Instead, take your pooch in the winter when the daytime temps are in the 70s. White Sands National Park is home to the rare gypsum sand dunes, which are not seen like this anywhere else in the world. Gypsum is rare because it usually evaporates but not in this park. 

Leashed dogs are welcome in the park as long as you pick up after them and never leave them unattended. Even during the winter, it can get hot in the car or direct sunlight. Hiking is a popular activity, and there are five awesome trails. The short and easy Interdune Boardwalk is only a half-mile and gives you a good quick view of the dunes. The 1.7-mile White Sands Backcountry Trail is a bit more challenging but definitely worth it. 

Let Fido run around off the leash at Bark Park Dog Park to get rid of those zoomies before heading back to the hotel. It has all sorts of entertainment, including a dog walk, A-frame, hoops to jump through, weave poles to maneuver, and tunnels to zip through.

Rio Rancho 

Just northwest of Albuquerque, Rio Rancho is a large city with 104,000 residents and 17,000 dogs. It is the third-largest city in the state and has the most dog parks too. In fact, there are over a dozen pup parks where your cuddly canine can play off his leash. You will find a nice variation of parks including one at Cottonwood Mall where your pup is allowed to shop with you on a leash. 

While you are there, be sure to take Fido on a ride aboard the ABQ Trolley Company Tour. Your leashed pup can join you for the 85-minute narrated tour to learn about the historic old town. He is also welcome to join you when checking out the cool ancient drawings at the Petroglyph National Monument. Piedras Marcasas Canyon, Rinconada Canyon, and the Volcanoes Day Use Area are three places you do not want to miss!

Afterward, take your pooch to Cazuelas Mexican Grill & Brewpub to enjoy some Mexican food with craft beer. 


Carlsbad is well-known for its access to Carlsbad Caverns National Park where there are thousands of bats living inside the many caves. Unfortunately, your cuddle buddy is not allowed in the caves so leave him with a doggie daycare like Bark N Buddies. While you enjoy the bat cave, balloon ballroom, and Hall of the White Giant, your pup will be playing with the local pooches and he can even get a new hairdo.

After working up a sweat, cool off at Carlsbad Water Park where they have five water slides, two speed slides, a pool area, a lazy river, and a kids’ play area. Or, pick up your fur baby and take him to Lake Carlsbad Beach Park, where you can both enjoy the water. There are also places to fish, camp, hike, and go boating. 

Let your pooch play without his leash at Carlsbad Dog Park right next to the water park and beach. The fenced dog park allows access to the Lower Transill Reservoir as well as a variety of agility stations. 

Gila National Forest

Ready for a camping trip with your furry friend? Gila National Forest has over 3.3 million acres, featuring 31 campgrounds with 320 campsites. Some of these are open all year long, while others are only open from April to November. The Dipping Vat Campground is the largest, with 40 sites open from April to November. It has restrooms, water, picnic areas, a playground, fishing, boating, and hiking. 

The terrain ranges from desert scrub and valleys to mountains and canyons, and you will find over 100 rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams for fishing, swimming, boating, and playing, as well as over 40 hiking trails. You will need to bring doggie bags for cleanup and keep your pooch on a leash at all times. Some of the wildlife to look out for include bears, cougars, coyotes, elk, deer, bobcats, and wolves.

Don’t miss the Cosmic Campground, which was the first registered International Dary Sky Sanctuary in North America. People come from all around the world for stargazing here.


The small city of Gallup has over 15 pet-friendly hotels with rooms starting under $100, so if you are looking to save some money, this is your spot. Several of them have pools, too, including Motel 6, Knights Inn, and Sleep Inn. The first thing to do after checking into your hotel is to take Fido to the City of Gallup Dog Park. It has a separate small dog area, water fountains, and seating for parents, and it is lit for after-dark fun. 

For even more amenities and less money, check out USA RV Park, where you can camp or stay in an RV for less than $30. It even has a dog park as well as a heated pool, store, playground, cookouts, and a putting green. Some affordable fun in Gallup includes 15 parks and recreational areas where leashed dogs are welcome. 

Afterward, take your pupster for burgers and fries at Sammy C’s Rock N Sports Pub & Grill where you can have a cold beer to cool you down. 

Red River 

Winter is the perfect time to visit New Mexico for many who like to get away from the cold. Others want to play in it. You can do some alpine or cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tubing, and snowshoeing up to 8,750 feet. Known as the Ski Town of the Southwest, the winter wonderland is located in the Enchanted Circle and has seven lifts, 64 runs, and 209 acres of skiable terrain with a summit of 10,350 feet. 

Located right at the bottom of the mountain, Best Western Rivers Edge is just feet from the ski area and they allow two fur babies up to 80 pounds for just $10 per night per pet. You are allowed to leave your pooch in the room while you hit the slopes since he is not allowed on the lifts.

For a unique experience, take a tour with Red River Offroad. The snowcat tour allows dogs as long as they are leashed and well-behaved. 

Elephant Butte State Park

Camping at Elephant Butte Lake State Park with your pup is easy because they have 1,284 campsites to choose from. However, 1,150 of them are dispersed so you have to walk a ways to get to them. All the campsites welcome dogs on a leash, and there are some areas where your pup can be off the leash if you choose dispersed camping. This is the largest state park in New Mexico, with 24,000 acres and a lake that has 36,000 acres. 

Some of the fun pet-popular activities in the park include fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking. The West Lakeshore Trail is a long walk through the hills above the lake so you get some incredible views for selfies. Be aware that it is 10.5 miles one way so if you do not have some other way to get back, you will be hiking 21 miles back and forth. 

The Rio Grande, which is one of the longest rivers in the country, runs through the park and feeds the Elephant Butte Lake, perfect for tubing, fishing, and kayaking. 

Sunland Park 

At the southeastern tip of New Mexico, right on the border of Texas and Mexico, you can find the small city of Sunland Park. There are only about 17,000 people and 2,800 fur babies, and it is mostly unincorporated land. Besides open land, the city also has two major attractions. The Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino is popular for couples with dogs for gambling and just watching the horses race. If you want to see the horses, visit from January to April, but gambling is open year-round.

You cannot bring your pooch to the racetrack or casino so you will have to leave him with a dog sitter. The other attraction, Western Playland, is a 30-acre amusement park with 26 rides, including two roller coasters and one water ride. They also have food, games, and shopping. Your pooch cannot join you here either. 

One place your leashed pooch can enjoy with you is the Sunland Park Sports Complex where they have some nice green areas to play. 


If you are ready to go skiing, take your cuddle buddy to Taos Ski Valley where dogs are welcome at most of the resorts and hotels. For example, Alpine Village Suites, The Blake at Taos Ski Valley, and El Pueblo Lodge are all dog-friendly.  The Blake is closest, just a few feet from the lifts. And Alpine Village Suites is right next door. If you would rather stay in town, the El Pueblo Lodge is just 10 miles away in Taos.  

Although dogs are not allowed on the slopes, you can take him on a snowshoeing tour in the mountains with Cielo Vida. It is a two-hour trip with a brief break for tea and meditation. Your pup will need to stay on a leash and you have to bring doggie bags for cleaning up after him. 

After working up an appetite, you and your pupster can grab some food at Tao’s Burgers, the Bent Street Grille, or Gutiz, where leashed dogs are welcome at the outdoor tables. 

Clayton Lake State Park and Dinosaur Trackways 

Take a lake vacation with your fur baby at Clayton Lake State Park where you can enjoy all the water activities as well as see dinosaur tracks. This is one of the only places in the world where you can see such impressive and detailed footprints and your canine companion is welcome to join you. If you plan to camp at the park, though, be sure to reserve a site well in advance because there are only 26 spots. 

The park is also a great place for swimming, boating, and fishing with your fur puppy. The lake is 170 acres and boasts some great fishing spots for walleye, bass, catfish, and trout. Be sure to bring a New Mexico fishing license. The dinosaur trail is along the eastern end of the late and is easy to hike with your pooch. It is only about 1.4 miles long and very well maintained.  

There is one awesome dog-friendly restaurant in town just minutes from the park where you can get some delicious chicken fried steak, nachos, burgers, and just about anything else you may want. 

The Final Woof

New Mexico has some great vacation destinations for pups and their parents, whether you want to go swimming, camping, boating, or even skiing. Winter is one of the most popular seasons here because it is so warm compared to most of the rest of the country. In Red River, you can take your pup on the trails for some cross-country skiing or Enjoy a day on the slopes in Taos. If you are a fan of camping, check out the 300+ campsites at Carson National Forest, Gila National Forest, or Elephant Butte Lake State Park where they have over 1,200 campsites. For a family trip, take the kids to Albuquerque, where they have Cliff’s Amusement Park, or Sunland Park, where you can find Western Playland.

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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