So far we’re four years and 27 states into our 8-year, 50-state road trip (it was five years but we got slowed way down by Covid-19) and one of our favorite states so far has been New Mexico. Here’s a list of great dog-friendly activities in New Mexico.
As in most states, the National Park Service is a mixed bag for visiting the parks with your dog. Some are really dog-friendly, like our favorite spot in New Mexico—White Sands National Park, while others—like Gila Cliff Dwellings—aren’t dog-friendly but offer kennels to leave your pup while you go and explore. Always check ahead of time what the rules are before traveling to a National Park Service site.
White Sands National Park
We LOVED White Sands National Park. You can rent sleds, just walk and play or even go hiking amongst the sand dunes (although you need A LOT of energy and water for that). Truffles loved the park and it was a highlight for us in New Mexico. The beauty of White Sands goes beyond the views, the sand is made of Gypsum and it NEVER GETS HOT, no matter the temperature outside! Perfect for pawsies!
Pecos National Historic Park
Pecos is a great, dog-friendly location. You can walk outside to all the sites in about an hour or so. There’s a booklet with great information available and it’s well worth a stop to learn more about the Ancestral Puebloan people with your dog. Other sites like Bandelier and Tsankawi aren’t pawticularly pet-friendly. At other sites, like Chaco Culture National Historical Park, your pet can go on paved areas so you can drive through with them but you can’t take your pet to see the sites on the trails.
Truffles pawticipated in the B.A.R.K. Ranger program at Pecos National Historic Park. She got her own little BARK Ranger badge from the Park Ranger there as well and wore it proudly all day.
To be a BARK Ranger your pet must adhere to the following like Truffles below:
B- Bag your poop (Check! There it is ready for the trash)
A- Always leash your pet (Check, Check! 6 feet or less is preferred)
R- Respect wildlife (Check! Truffles on the lookout for wild animals so she can avoid them)
K- Know where you can go (Check! Truffles sticking to the paved and marked trails)
Hiking in Los Alamos
There are three trails that we hiked in the Los Alamos area. There’s a ton to do there but Bandelier and Tsankawi aren’t very dog-friendly so these are a few great hikes to do with your pup. Truffles and her dad did the Canyon Rim Trail and the Kwage Mesa Trail while all three of us did the Blue Dot Trail which is strenuous since you go straight down into the canyon and back out.
The World’s Largest Pistachio
You can take your pet to see the World’s Largest Pistachio as you drive in the south of New Mexico. It’s a sculpture but a great place to stop for lunch, a farm tour, and to pop inside and try flavored pistachios and even pistachio-oil wine!
Sitting Bull Falls
Carlsbad Caverns are great but sadly not pup-friendly; however, right nearby is Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area which is dog-friendly. A nice spot for hiking, camping, and picnicking by the water.
Elephant Butte State Park
Another real highlight for us in New Mexico was Elephant Butte State Park. You can bring your dog, and your car, right down to the water’s edge! Truffles played, swam, and rested by the beautiful clear (albeit cold!) water in the spring. This is a can’t-miss spot!
Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano
Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano was a fun surprise in the middle of New Mexico with all of its red rock. You can bring your dog to see the ice cave and then take a walk (a few miles round trip) to see the caldera of the Bandera Volcano. The volcanic rock path can be rough on paws though so be puppared to carry your dog or have them wear protective footwear (Editor’s Note: this is an affiliate link, but we only recommend the best products for your pet.)
The ice cave is really interesting, you walk down the stairs to the viewing platform, and from one step to the next, the temperature just drops (or rises on your way back up). The ice cave is in a lava tube and stays 31 degrees F year-round. There used to be a lot more ice in it but it’s still 20 feet thick. A great place to get some exercise and learn about the history of the area as well as more about volcanoes, lava, and what created the formations you’ll see along your walk to the caldera.
El Morro National Monument
Another National Park Service site that we’d recommend that has an easy and accessible trail for pups and people alike is El Morro National Monument. Known for the thousands of inscriptions on the rock from hundreds of years of indigenous people, colonizers, and travelers coming through the oasis it’s a really cool piece of history. There’s also a more strenuous hike up to the top of the bluff to see an Ancestral Puebloan site but we got there too late for that so we stuck to the easy trail.
Pyramid Trail at Pyramid Rock
One trail we particularly enjoyed was a 3.5 out-and-back hike up to the top of Pyramid Rock near Gallup, NM. You don’t have to do the entire trail but the views from the top make it worth it.
Watch the trail carefully as you come back down from the summit—we did get a little turned around (although Truffles didn’t…she kept laying down when we went off the trail which we didn’t figure out soon enough *facepalm* we thought she just wanted to be carried!) but overall the trail is very clear.
This is a great little wander/hike for you and your pup. We were even able to have Truffles off-leash since it was so open we could see her really clearly. We stopped on a moving day for about an hour but you could spend a lot of time there exploring, hiking, and even camping!
Wines of the San Juan
Not far from Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area is a great, dog-friendly, winery in Blanco, NM, Wines of the San Juan. If you’ve done all this hiking you deserve to treat yo’ self and we’d highly recommend this fantastic little local winery. Tons of great wines and tastings are available along with a lovely porch and patio area.
We Loved New Mexico
We loved every second of dog-friendly New Mexico. It’s one of our favorite states on the road trip and this is still not EVERYTHING you can do with your dog. It’s a state with great weather overall, beautiful scenery, and tons of history. There were a few places Truffles couldn’t go (like the Ancestral Puebloan ruins at Bandelier NP and Chaco Cultural Historical Park) but after all of her adventures she needed a day off in the hotel so it worked out well.
Have you been to New Mexico? What were your favorite dog-friendly spots? Share in the comments below.