Land Access Rules
Click tab headings below for information about New Mexico’s Land Access Rules, as referenced by the NM Hunting Rules & Info booklet. See also:
Access to Public Lands
New Mexico contains approximately nine million acres of national forest and 13 million acres of BLM lands. NMDGF recommends contacting the appropriate land management agency prior to hunting. Many public lands in New Mexico are also interspersed with privately owned property. A private landowner has the right to control the use of his/her private land. Where no public access exists, sportsmen/women must obtain written permission from the landowner or leaseholder to cross private land for access to public land. It is unlawful for persons to post or restrict lawful use of public land.
National parks and national monuments are closed to hunting, except the following BLM managed national monuments:
Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument: (575) 751-4899
Prehistoric Trackways National Monument & Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument: (575) 525-4300
All of unit 6B is closed to hunting and trapping, except elk and turkey draw hunts. All hunters and participants in any firearm hunt on Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP), except turkey hunters using shotguns, must wear a minimum of 244 square inches of blaze orange. A special-use permit fee ($35) and 7-day entrance fee ($20). The Valles Caldera National Preserve honors any NPS pass to waive the $20 entrance fee. This includes NPS Annual, Lifetime, Senior, Military, Volunteer, and Access passes in addition to the America the Beautiful Pass. A hunter orientation also is required before hunting on VCNP. Hunters should review all information regarding VCNP hunting rules and regulations at: www.nps.gov/vall. For more information telephone: (575) 829-4100.
NWRs are closed to hunting unless specified open by federal refuge regulations for hunting particular species. If specified open, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service approved nontoxic shot is required for hunting on all NWRs.
- Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge: (575) 835-1828
(For more information visit ww.fws.gov/refuge/bosque_del_apache)
- Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge: (575) 622-6755
- Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge: (505) 425-3581
- Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge: (505) 864-4021
Most national forest lands in New Mexico are open to public hunting, fishing and trapping. Each national forest requires outfitters and guides to obtain a permit to provide services. Vehicle-use restrictions may apply on Forest Service properties. Specific roads are closed in some national forests to protect natural resources. It is unlawful to use vehicles in areas closed under the Habitat Protection Act. Late Season Road Closures: If intending to utilize roads through Forest Service or BLM property, it is advisable to contact the appropriate land management field office (pages 39–40) beforehand for late season or winter closures and other access restrictions.
Stay Informed about Controlled Burns
The U.S. Forest Service and other public-land management agencies routinely conduct controlled burns in forested areas during the fall months. Prescribed fires maintain a diverse and healthy forest ecosystem and improve wildlife habitat. Hunters are encouraged to be aware before their hunt and check nmfireinfo.com for burn advisories.
Sandia Ranger District: Cibola National Forest
The Sandia Ranger District is restricted to bow and crossbow only during established seasons.
Valle Vidal (inlcuding Greenwood Area): Carson National Forest
Greenwood Area is private property and no longer included in the Valle Vidal hunt area. The Valle Vidal is closed seasonally to public access: The west side is closed May 1–June 30; and the east side is closed Jan. 1–March 31. The Valle Vidal unit is open to big-game and turkey hunting by draw only and is closed to all small-game hunting and trapping. Off-road travel is prohibited, and camping is allowed only in designated campgrounds or more than one-half mile from the road. Other restrictions may apply. For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service office in Questa: (575) 586-0520.
For more information about Forest Service Lands: For information visit www.fs.fed.us or contact the national forest of interest.
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (928) 333-4301
Carson National Forest: (575) 758-6200
Cibola National Forest: (505) 346-3900
Coronado National Forest: (520) 388-8300
Gila National Forest: (575) 388-8201
Lincoln National Forest: (575) 257-4095
Santa Fe National Forest: (505) 438-5300
Most land under Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction, including Wilderness Study Areas, is open to public hunting, fishing and trapping. However, it is the responsibility of each hunter, angler and trapper to know what restrictions apply and where. Outfitters and guides providing services on BLM lands must possess a permit issued by each specific BLM district. Off-road vehicle travel may be restricted or prohibited on BLM lands, depending on location. Obey all posted rules and check with local BLM offices for regulatory changes that may occur in special management units.
Rio Bonito Acquired Lands: Contact Roswell BLM office, (575) 627-0272.
Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area: Contact Taos BLM office, (575) 758-8851.
Rio Grande Recreation Area: Wild Rivers Zone s open to hunting and trapping with the exception of the closed area: beginning from the fence at the pay station; east following the southern boundary of State Land section 32 to where it intersects the power line; south following the Red River to its confluence with the Rio Grande; north following the Rio Grande to Sheep’s Crossing; east to the right of way fence of the Backcountry Byway; and south following this right of way fence to the pay station. Taos Valley Overlook Zone and Orilla Verde Zone are closed to hunting and trapping.
For more information about BLM lands, visit: www.blm.gov/nm/st/en.html or contact:
Albuquerque: (505) 761-8700
Carlsbad: (575) 887-6544
Farmington: (505) 599-8900
Las Cruces: (575) 525-4300
Roswell: (575) 627-0272
Socorro: (575) 835-0412
Taos: (575) 758-8851
Santa Fe: (505) 954-2000
With the cooperation of the U.S. Department of Defense, hunting is allowed on some military reservations. Hunters must obtain permission and conditions of access directly from the military reservation. Hunters may be required to sign-in and sign-out at check stations for some hunts. The U.S. military may delay or cancel hunts (see closures below).
Kirtland Air Force Base: Contact: (505) 846-7420.
Lake Holloman Wildlife Refuge: Contact: (575) 572-7381.
Fort Bliss / McGregor Range: All hunters on Fort Bliss, including McGregor Range, are required to have proof of passing a state-certified hunter education course. Mentor-youth hunters are not eligible. Hunters are required to wear a blaze-orange vest and are subject to security searches. McGregor Range in Unit 28 is open for big-game hunting by draw (see specific species and season listings). For access information, contact Fort Bliss: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ftbliss.isportsman.net.
GMU 34: Grapevine Canyon (McGregor Range Buffer Zone): Subject to closure by the Forest Service and/or the military during missile firings. This area in GMU 34 is accessible with military permission only. For access information contact the Fort Bliss: email@example.com or visit www.ftbliss.isportsman.net.
White Sands Missile Range (WSMR): For access information, contact White Sands Missile Range at: (575) 678-7909 or (575) 678-7095.
U.S. Forest Service & Military Closures: In the interest of public safety, the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. military may delay or cancel hunts in portions of GMUs 10, 13, 18, 19, 20, 28 and 34. Closures usually occur between 3 p.m. and 8 a.m., during which time roadblocks leading into closed areas will be placed and evacuation required of all persons in these areas. The area subject to closure by the U.S. Forest Service and/or the military during missile firings in Unit 34 is located in Grapevine Canyon (McGregor Range Buffer Zone). Closures of these areas can occur throughout the year and may affect a number of hunts listed in this booklet. The area subject to closure in GMU 10 includes approximately 29 square miles of the Mount Taylor Ranger District, Cibola National Forest—located in the Zuni Mountains, directly south and east of the Fort Wingate Launch Complex and south of U.S. Hwy. I-40. The area subject to closure in GMU 13 includes approximately 200 square miles of the western portion of the Magdalena Ranger District, Cibola National Forest—located in the Datil Mountains, north of U.S. Hwy. 60 and northeast of Datil, N.M. Authority for the closures is 36 CFR 261.53 (E) and 36 CFR 261.54 (e).
Fundos de Titulo VI: Ciertos programas del New Mexico Department of Game and Fish reciben fondos federales del U.S. Department of the Interior. Estos programas son subyugados a requisitos de la ley de New Mexico Human Rights Act and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, que prohíben la discriminacion por razones de ascendencia, sexo, raza, color, religión origen nacional, edad o impedimento físico o mental. Si usted cree que ha sufrido discriminación en cualquier programa, actividad o comodidades, por favor envíe por correo certificado una descripción detallada al Department of Game and Fish. Si desea mas informacion sobre Titulo VI, por favor escriba a: Department of Game and Fish, ADA Coordinator, P.O. Box 25112, Santa Fe, NM 87504 or Office of Equal Opportunity, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Office of the Secretary, Washington, DC 20240. Al programar sus reuniones públicas, el Department of Game and Fish operará en facilidades que proveen acceso para personas con incapacidades físicas. Las personas con otras incapacidades, inclusive del oído y de la vista, recibirán acceso razonable a las reuniones. Si usted necesita algún auxiliar o ayuda especial, por favor llame al número (505) 476-8027 o escriba a P.O. Box 25112, Santa Fe, NM 87504, por lo menos tres días antes de la reunión. Para iniciar una queja, escriba a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Diversity and Inclusive Workforce Management, Public Civil Rights Accessibility & Disability Coordinator, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. Phone: (703) 358-1724.
New Mexico State Lands
The New Mexico Game Commission and the Commissioner of Public Lands have an agreement that provides access for hunting, fishing and trapping of protected species on State Trust Land by NMGDF licensees during the seasons for which their licenses are valid. A copy of this agreement and other information about hunting access on State Trust Land can be found at: www.nmstatelands.org/resources/recreational-access/hunting-access-information.
Persons seeking to use State Trust Land for uses not addressed under this agreement must secure separate approval from the New Mexico State Land Office (NMSLO). For more information, contact NMSLO at: (505) 827-5760 or visit: www.nmstatelands.org.
Certain areas may be unavailable for hunting, fishing, or trapping. For specific locations, contact NMSLO at the phone number above or use the interactive map at: mapservice.nmstatelands.org/HuntingInformation.
The right to enter State Trust Land via vehicle is allowed if access is available by public road (defined in Section 67-2-1, NMSA 1978) or on other established roads on State Trust Land that have not been closed to vehicular traffic. Access is also allowed on foot from roads mentioned above or from adjacent public and private lands that have been lawfully accessed.
NMDGF and NMSLO have identified specific hunting access points on State Trust Land that must be unlocked during any open season. These access points are shown on NMSLO’s interactive map.
To ensure access and create large and better defined hunting areas, hunting and trapping privileges for some State Trust Land have been exchanged for similar privileges on private lands. The private-land areas have signs posted with notices that the land has been unitized (page 44). Observe these signs and contact NMDGF if you have questions about which lands are open for public use. NMLSO requests trappers to notify the appropriate lessee when trapping on State Trust Lands (contact NMSLO to obtain lessee contact information).
On legally accessible State Trust Land, you may:
- Scout for big game fourteen days prior to the open season.
- Hunt for big game or take protected furbearers during open hours and seasons.
- Hunt or trap unprotected species on State Trust Land, but only during the period in which your license is valid for protected species on those lands.
- Camp with the permission of the State Trust Land agricultural lessee, in campsites designated under this agreement and shown on NMSLO’s interactive map, or as otherwise authorized by the commissioner.
- Take up to three guests per license holder on your hunt.
If you have problems or questions about gaining access to State Trust Land, record complete details including the location, date, time, and names of parties involved, and contact one of the following:
- The local NMDGF Conservation Officer or NMDGF Operation Game Thief: 1-800-432-4263.
- NMSLO in Santa Fe at: (505) 827-5760 or the appropriate local NMSLO Field Office, using the directory at: www.nmstatelands.org/divisions/surface-resources/district-offices.
- Submit a Multiple Use Incident Reporting From, found at: www.nmstatelands.org/resources/recreational-access/hunting-access-information.
On State Trust Land, you must:
- Have in your possession all required and valid fishing, trapping and hunting licenses with tags which must be available on demand by employees of NMSLO or NMDGF.
- Respect other permitted or leased uses of State Trust Land, including agriculture, mineral activities,
- Drive only on established roads.
- Close all gates that you pass through.
- Respect private property.
- Pack out trash.
It is illegal to:
- Attach blinds to private property, such as windmills, tanks, etc.
- Drive off-road for any reason.
- Enter during seasons for which you are not licensed or before the hours and allowed
scouting periods for which you are licensed.
- Use private roads or cross private lands without prior written permission from the landowner.
- Remove wood, sand or gravel or conduct commercial activities.
- Harass or injure livestock or wildlife or damage private property, such as dwellings, stock tanks or fences.
- Use a Private-land Only License to hunt on state land, even if the state land is leased by a landowner whose property you have permission to hunt.
New Mexico State Parks
All New Mexico State Parks are closed to hunting, unless specified open in a designated area. For information contact the New Mexico State Parks Division at: 1-888-667-2757 or nmparks.com.
Other State Lands
Chihuahuan Desert Research Center: The Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center (College Ranch) is closed to unescorted public access. For information, telephone: (575) 646-2554 or visit: http://chihuahuansc.nmsu.edu/index.html.
Jornada Experimental Range: Jornada Experimental Range in Doña Ana County is closed to unescorted public access.
Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District: For information or to obtain access, telephone: (505) 864-7466.
Portions of the Rio Grande in Valencia County: In the interest of public safety, areas posted along the Rio Grande in Valencia County may be closed to hunting. For further information regarding closures contact the NMDGF Northwest Office: (505) 222-4700, ext. 0.
New Mexico State Game Commission Lands
The New Mexico State Game Commission owns and manages lands across New Mexico for the benefit of fish, wildlife and their habitats. Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) have been designated to provide public hunting opportunities. See below for special WMA rules.
All WMAs are closed, unless specifically open. If designated open:
- WMAs open for big-game and turkey hunting are listed in this booklet for each big-game species by GMU. All WMAs not listed are closed to big-game and turkey hunting.
- Only New Mexico residents may apply for big-game hunts held exclusively on WMAs. Nonresidents may apply only for hunts open concurrently on both a WMA and other public lands.
- Scouting is allowed by each properly licensed big-game hunter with up to three guests during the seven-day period prior to the published start date of his/her hunt.
- WMA access is allowed by each properly-licensed hunter with up to three guests, during the hunt period on their license (includes scouting period for big-game and turkey hunters only).
- Individuals may not enter closed areas as posted on site.
- Vehicles may not be operated off established roads or on closed roads.
- Camping is restricted to designated areas. Individuals may not camp more than 14 consecutive days, unless the combined hunting and scouting periods for which the hunter is licensed
exceeds the 14 days.
- Campfires must be safely contained.
- Dogs must remain on leash, except when being used for hunting purposes as allowed by rule.
- Domestic livestock feed, other than pelleted, grain feed or hay certified as weed free, is prohibited.
- Individuals may not deface or remove rocks, minerals, plants (including fruits, nuts, and berries), animals (except for legally harvested game), firewood, or man-made features (including artifacts).
- Individuals may not violate access rules for specific WMAs posted on site or otherwise published by NMDGF.
Hunting for nongame animals or unprotected species (feral hogs) is not allowed on WMAs, except Water Canyon WMA where nongame hunting is allowed January 1–March 31, 2022
For further rules and specific information about each WMA, visit n State Game Commission Lands.
Hunting on Private Land
Hunters must possess written permission before entering private lands, (see Criminal Trespass, pages 25–26). It is unlawful to knowingly enter any private property to hunt, capture, take, attempt to take or kill any protected species on posted private property without written permission from the landowner or person in control of the land. It also is unlawful to remain on private property if consent has been denied or withdrawn. Any game taken in violation of the above, shall be subject to seizure. Written permission form downloadable at:
Unitization Agreements Provide Access
Unitization agreements are cooperative temporary agreements between landowners and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the State Land Office and/or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These agreements increase public hunting access during the hunting season to previously inaccessible areas, while diminishing trespass issues for landowners and enabling them to better manage ranching operations. Each agreement is reviewed annually, and the public may provide comments.
To take advantage of the hunting opportunities unitized ranches provide, hunters must have a valid license for the season and species identified in each agreement. Each agreement specifies the hunting season(s) and species which apply.
For maps and information on ranches that have entered into unitization agreements visit:
http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/hunting/maps/unitized-ranch/. Also, to assist and inform hunters in the field, signs will be posted on public and private property where unitization agreements are in effect. CarryMap shows all current unitizations (see page 126).
Hunters may hunt on private lands that have been opened through an unitization agreement. Hunters must have permission from the lessee to hunt on BLM/State lands that have been closed through a unitization agreement. Game animals taken in violation of unitization agreements may be seized.
Native American Land
Hunting on Native American lands is outside the jurisdiction of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Permission must be obtained from the pueblo, tribe or nation that owns the land.
Game and/or fish taken on or from native lands must be accompanied by an official document, such as a license or receipt from tribal authorities, which demonstrates lawful possession.
Criminal Trespass 30-14-1 NMSA 1978
- Criminal trespass consists of knowingly entering or remaining upon posted private property without possessing written permission from the owner or person in control of the land. The provisions of this subsection do not apply if: 1) the owner or person in control of the land has entered into an agreement with NMDGF granting access to the land to the general public for the purpose of taking any game animals, birds or fish by hunting or fishing; or 2) a person is in possession of a landowner license given to him by the owner or person in control of the land that grants access to that particular private land for the purpose of taking any game animals, birds or fish by hunting or fishing.
- Criminal trespass also consists of knowingly entering or remaining upon the unposted lands of another, knowing that such consent to enter or remain is denied or withdrawn by the owner or occupant thereof. Notice of no consent to enter shall be deemed sufficient notice to the public and evidence to the courts, by the posting of the property at all vehicular access entry ways.
- Criminal trespass also consists of knowingly entering or remaining upon lands owned, operated or controlled by the state or any of its political subdivisions, knowing that consent to enter or remain is denied or withdrawn by the custodian thereof.
- Any person who enters upon the lands of another without prior permission and injures, damages or destroys any part of the realty or its improvements, including buildings, structures, trees, shrubs or other natural features, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be liable to the owner, lessee or person in lawful possession for civil damages in an amount equal to double the value of the damage to the property injured or destroyed.
- Whoever commits criminal trespass is guilty of a misdemeanor. Additionally, any person who violates the provisions of Subsection A, B or C of this section, when in connection with hunting, fishing or trapping activity, shall have their hunting or fishing license revoked by the state game commission for a period of not less than three years, pursuant to the provisions of Section 17-3-34 NMSA 1978.
- Whoever knowingly removes, tampers with or destroys any “no trespass” sign is guilty of a petty misdemeanor; except when the damage to the sign amounts to more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to imprisonment in the county jail for a definite term less than one year or a fine not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or to both such imprisonment and fine in the discretion of the judge.
Posting Requirements for Trespass 30-14-6 NMSA 1978
- The owner, lessee or person lawfully in possession of real property in New Mexico, except property owned by the state or federal government, desiring to prevent trespass or entry onto the real property shall post notices parallel to and along the exterior boundaries of the property to be posted, at each roadway or other way of access in conspicuous places, and if the property is not fenced, such notices shall be posted every five hundred feet along the exterior boundaries of such land.
- The notices posted shall prohibit all persons from trespassing or entering upon the property, without permission of the owner, lessee, person in lawful possession or his/her agent. The notices shall: 1) be printed legibly in English; 2) be at least one hundred forty-four square inches in size; 3) contain the name and address of the person under whose authority the property is posted or the name and address of the person who is authorized to grant permission to enter the property; 4) be placed at each roadway or apparent way of access onto the property, in addition to the posting of the boundaries; and 5) where applicable, state any specific prohibition that the posting is directed against, such as “no trespassing,” “no hunting,” “no fishing,” “no digging” or any other specific prohibition.
- Any person who posts public lands contrary to state or federal law or regulation is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
Hunting on Private Property without Written Permission
- It is unlawful to knowingly enter upon any private property to hunt, capture, take, attempt to take, or kill any game animal, furbearer, game bird, or game fish without possessing written permission from the landowner or person in control of the land or trespass rights unless otherwise permitted in rule or statute.
- Any game animal, furbearer, or game bird taken in violation of this section or section 30-14-1 NMSA 1978 is unlawfully killed and shall be subject to seizure.
- All shed antlers collected in violation of any New Mexico State Game Commission, state or federal land closure, in violation of section 30-14-1 NMSA 1978 or in violation of any of the provisions of Chapter 17 or state game commission rule remain property of the State of New Mexico and shall be seized.
- Exception: Written permission is not required on any property which is participating in a unitization, receives compensation for allowing public access, receives unit-wide authorizations, or has agreed to a ranch-wide agreement when species being harvested is part of any of these agreements.
Written Permission shall mean a document (which may include a valid hunting, trapping, or fishing license) that asserts the holder has permission from the private landowner or their designee to hunt, fish, trap, or drive off road on the landowner’s property. The information on the document must be verifiable and include the name of the person(s) receiving permission, activity permitted, property’s location and name (if applicable), name of person granting permission, date and length of time the permission is granted, and phone number or e-mail of the person granting the permission. Licenses issued for private land which have the ranch name printed on them constitute written permission for that property and no other permission is required except for private-land elk licenses in the secondary management zone pursuant to 19.30.5 and 19.31.14 NMAC.