Boondocking: Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, Maxwell, NM

Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge is one of our favorite boondocking spots from our travels so far. It’s a beautiful location and is perfect for a few nights stay. In this post I want to share all of the information you might need to know about boondocking at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in Maxwell, New Mexico.

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, Maxwell, NM

We have actually visited this spot on three different occasions now, almost exactly a year apart each. Our first visit was from 6/27/19 to 6/30/19, and our second visit was from 7/1/20 to 7/3/20, and our third visit was from 5/16/21-5/19/21.

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in 2019
From our first visit in 2019

Where is it located?

The Maxwell Wildlife Refuge is located just outside of Maxwell, NM. It is a short distance off of Interstate 25, about 35 miles south of the Colorado border.

This easy access location makes it a great place to stop overnight or for a day or two when you’re passing through northeast New Mexico, especially since there’s not much in the area. We like to stop here on our way from Texas to Colorado.

The GPS coordinates are 36.58196258544922, -104.58983612060547

The refuge encompasses 3,699 acres according to the Fish and Wildlife Service website, but camping is only permitted in the Lake 13 area. However, there is plenty of room and we’ve never felt crowded.

Wide open grassy area near Lake 13
Wide open grassy area

What kind of RVs are able to boondock here?

Some boondocking locations are definitely only suited for smaller vehicles and trailers, but that is not the case with Maxwell Wildlife Refuge. I would say that any size rig would be acceptable.

While we were staying there, we saw everything from buses, to fifth wheels, to vans. Tent camping is also permitted.

We have camped here with a 42′ fifth wheel, as well as our current 37′ fifth wheel and we didn’t have any issues either time.

The entrance to Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge
The entrance to Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge

Is Maxwell Wildlife Refuge difficult to access?

The first time we went, our GPS had us turn down one of the side roads in the refuge and there were some low hanging branches we had to avoid. We found out later that there is a main entrance just a little further down that was much better.

Our recommendation is to enter where the main sign is off of County Road 505. This is what the sign looks like…you can’t miss it.

Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge sign
Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge sign

The roads in the refuge are all gravel and are easy to navigate. Some areas just require a slower speed.

The permitted camping area is just off of the main gravel road and is surrounded by a gravel circle drive for easy on-and-off access.

Our boondocking campsite
Our campsite

Are there any amenities at the sites?

There are no RV hookups (no water, no electric, and no sewer) but there are outhouses on site.

Picnic tables and trash cans are provided, and there is also a small boat ramp. Please leave with everything you brought in. They even have trash cans provided for camper’s use.

There are not individual sites, but instead it is one large, flat, grassy area and you can park anywhere you’d like. There’s also a small shaded area closer to the boat ramp that would be suitable for a tent or a small RV.

No open fires are permitted.

Lake 13 rules and information sign
Lake 13 rules and information sign

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    What activities are there to do at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge?

    Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge offers several different activities. Our favorite thing to do here is obviously just camping but we also enjoyed kayaking when the lake was full.

    Camping is allowed in the area adjacent to Lake 13 and you are asked to please limit your stay to 3 nights or less.

    There is a fishing lake and fishing with a permit is allowed at Lake 13 from March 1st to October 31st. We saw quite a few people fishing the lake when we were there in 2019. In 2020 however, the lake was extremely dry and there were not many people out fishing. In May, 2021 the lake was completely dried up. Check the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge website for current lake conditions.

    Fishing and area information sign

    Kayaking, boating, etc. are permitted on the lake as well. We enjoyed kayaking during our first visit and found it to be such a peaceful and relaxing area!

    Wildlife viewing is another great activity for the area! We personally saw mule deer, antelope, elk, multiple species of birds, and lots of bugs.

    Swimming, hunting, and off-road vehicles are not permitted. There is a visitor center although we have never stopped at it.

    Lake view
    Lake view

    Is there reliable cell service?

    AT&T

    We found the AT&T cell service to be great! We were able to work during our stay, and even streamed videos without any issues.

    Verizon

    We did not have good service on our Verizon phone.

    Our boondocking site

    Are there any amenities nearby Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge?

    Maxwell, NM

    The small town of Maxwell, NM is about 10 mins away and has a small gas station/convenience store where you can find some necessities. They offer gasoline and diesel.

    Springer, NM

    The town of Springer, NM is about 26 mins south and has a few small grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations.

    Raton, NM

    Raton, NM is a larger town about 35 mins north and offers multiple grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations.

    Our boondocking site overlooking Lake 13
    Our boondocking site overlooking Lake 13

    That’s all!

    We hope you enjoy staying at Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge as much as we have. If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out. Happy camping!

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    Much Love, Janae xoxo

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