Sunset Reef Campground

The Sunset Reef Campground sits on top of a former oil/gas well.

A former oil and gas well pad was converted into a campground for visitors to Carlsbad (N.M.) Caverns National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, according to the Carlsbad Current-Argus.

Owned by EOG Resources, the land was previously permitted as a well site for oil and gas extraction but was plugged about eight years ago.

Instead of the traditional process of plugging the well, reclaiming the land and returning it to its original state, EOG partnered with the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Carlsbad Field Office and the City of Carlsbad to provide a place for visitors to the area to camp while exploring the unique landscape of the area.

The site is off National Parks Highway at about mile marker 10 at Washington Ranch Road, centrally located between Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains national parks.

It sits on about four acres, offering five RV sites and six sites for tents. Access to the campsite is free and available on a first-come-first-serve basis. There are bathrooms at the site, but no other services or water availability.

Steve Wells, New Mexico acting BLM director said the public-private partnership for the project provided a local benefit to an area that often lacks facilities for visitors and could respond to an increased interest in outdoor recreation amid the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread closure of other recreation options.

“The more we can do locally, our job is to find the partners,” Wells said. “When you get different companies, they’re invested in the communities. With everything going on with the pandemic and the rush to recreation, this is perfect.”

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