New Mexico has a ton of places to camp simular to where we were recently at Cloudcroft and better.
Bandelier National Monument would be a nice place to visit near Los Alamos and not far from Santa Fe. It was a pleasent campground when we stayed there.
Hyde Memorial State Park near Santa Fe is a very nice place (most if not all NM State Parks are very nice and economical as well, with nice showers).
We spent more time at Heron Lake State Park near Chama, NM going back several years in the summers. We did have a canoe and enjoyed canoeing on it. Chama is a neat place with a very nice steam train ride up into Colorado. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Chama would be about 95 miles from Taos. It is a very neat drive between Taos & Chama.
Tierra Wools of Los Ojos near the turn off to Heron Lake.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad was originally constructed in 1880 as part of the Rio Grande’s San Juan Extension, which served the silver mining district of the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado. Like all of the Rio Grande at the time, it was built to a gauge of 3 feet between the rails, instead of the more common 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches that became standard in the United States. The inability to interchange cars with other railroads led the Rio Grande to begin converting its tracks to standard gauge in 1890.
Eagle Nest is a neat area as well. It would be about a 60 mile drive from Raton to Eagle Nest (a neat little town) to see Cimarron Canyon SP. You would be driving along or in the Cimarron Canyon much of the way. The village of Cimarron is a neat historic place. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cimarron,_New_Mexico
If you do make it to the Eagle Nest Area, be sure to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, one of the first Memorials of its kind in the United States dedicated to Vietnam Veterans. A very moving place.
By driving 30 miles from Eagle Nest, one could go to Taos a very historic area. The neat Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is near Taos as well on the way to Chama.
In AZ (might be on your way to the canyons) Canyon de Chelly National Monument by Chinle is great place to see from the rim on both sides of the Canyon with a free campground with showers. Been there want to go again. http://www.nps.gov/cach/
Grand Canyon both sides are really nice, the south side by Flagstaff is close to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument with camping nearby where we have stayed to see the area. (There is no camping in the monument. However, Bonito Campground, operated by the US Forest Service, is located across from the visitor center at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This campground is generally open from late May through mid-October. There are no hook-ups.). There are nice campgrounds on the north side at the park and if full in the Nat'l Forest just before getting into the park. We stayed outside the park when there in summer and park cg was full. Grand Canyon http://www.nps.gov/grca/
Sunset Crater http://www.nps.gov/sucr/
Navajo National Monument is located at the end of State Highway 564 off of US Highway 160. We have not been to this one but sounds very interesting. Two campgrounds, one open all year, somewhat isolated but no fees are charged. http://www.nps.gov/nava/
In Texas: Balmorhea State Park is located in the foothills of the Davis Mountains southwest of Balmorhea and nearby Davis Mountains State Park (along with the famous Big Bend Nat'l Park) are very nice places and one could spend a long time at each. Been to all except Davis, but it is nice areas, be sure to visit the old Ft. Davis a nice place to see.
Brice & Zion both have campgrounds. Many years ago, we stayed at a campground at Brice. http://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm
Later, we went to Fish Lake & camped there a few days, then we stayed at a Forest campground by Panguitch Lake. 8400 ft. elevation. 18 campsites, including 1 RV site. This area is best suited for tents. Panguitch Lake South Campground is a short walk from the lake, and there are full resort facilities nearby. Panquitch Lake North has 39 single campsites, 8 double campsites, and three group areas near Panguitch Lake. Fishing for rainbow trout in the lake. From Panguitch (which is near Brice Canyon) go 16 miles southwest on UT 143. We must have stayed at the North Campground but it seemed to be on the south side of the lake at the time, from 18 years ago & things do chance over time.
We drove from this campground to Zion (made a day trip out of Zion, it was very hot when we were there, therefore the need to find Fish Lake & Panquitch Lake in higher elevations). We drove by or through some of the Dixie Forest & Cedar Breaks National Monument (Resting on top of the Colorado plateau, at over 10,000 feet in elevation, with breathtaking views.)
On our return trip to New Mexico, we stopped at Capitol Reef National Park, they had a nice campground (fruit was in season & you could pick stuff) and at Natural Bridges National Monument (where the campground was free at that time as I remember?). But they are now: Sites at the campground are $10 per night. All sites are first-come, first-served. http://www.nps.gov/nabr/
Same cost at Capitol Reef Fruita Campground. http://www.nps.gov/care/planyourvisi...campground.htm
Don't knock Camp Wal-Mart, we have spend many a night in them all over the country.
This is cool in finding free or cheap spots to camp.