Activities

Las Vegas, New Mexico is a small college town nestled in the highlands of New Mexico with spectacular unspoiled landscapes, villages, mountains and meadows. Your visit to Las Vegas, New Mexico isn't complete unless it includes some of our beautiful parks and outdoor adventures.

Parks

Conchas Lake State Park

Conchas Lake State Park offers a wide variety of water sport activities including boating, fishing and water-skiing at this refreshing, 25-mile long reservoir.

One of the state's largest lakes includes 60 miles of varied shoreline, secluded coves, canyons, and sandy beaches. Ancient rock formations date back to the Age of Dinosaurs. Observant visitors may discover the fossils of ancient sea creatures.

With its ample camping and picnicking facilities, boat ramps, marina, bait and tackle supplies, food services and playgrounds, Conchas offers visitors much. Anglers can catch walleye, largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill and crappie.

Pecos National Historical Park

Pecos National Historical Park preserves 12,000 years of history including the ancient pueblo of Pecos, two Spanish Colonial missions, Santa Fe Trail sites, 20th century ranch history of Forked Lightning Ranch, and the site of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass. The visitor center contains exhibits (text in English and Spanish), book sales and 10-minute introductory film available in English. The park has a one and a quarter mile, self-guided trail through Pecos Pueblo and mission ruins. Guided tours available to groups with advance reservations. Tours of the Glorieta Battlefield are also available with advance reservations. Reservations for school groups and tour groups should be made two weeks before visit. Summer program includes weekend cultural demonstrations. There are lovely picnic grounds near the mission ruins.

Pecos National Historical Park
P.O. Box 418
Pecos, NM 87552
Phone: (505) 757-6414x1
www.nps.gov/peco

Storrie Lake State Park

Storrie Lake State's Park's serene waters are open for fishing year-round. Storrie Lake boasts consistent winds that provide excellent conditions for sailing and windsurfing.

With the arrival of the Santa Fe Railway in 1879, Las Vegas and the surrounding area became a hangout of some the shadiest characters of the Old West, including Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp. The visitor center features historical exhibits about the Santa Fe Trail and 19th century.

The bird watching is outstanding—geese and ducks flock to the lake during seasonal migrations. Follow walking-trails through sagebrush-covered landscape spotted with cactus, yucca and wildflowers.

Storrie Lake State Park
HC33, Box 109#2
Las Vegas, NM 87701
Phone: (505) 425-7278
www.emnrd.state.nm.us/PRD/StorrieLake.htm

Villanueva State Park

Nestled between high red sandstone bluffs along the Pecos River, near the picturesque Spanish Colonial village of Villanueva, lies Villanueva State Park. Villanueva State Park is a charming riverside park situated in a canyon of red and yellow sandstone cliffs. Towering cottonwoods and a variety of other native trees and shrubs add additional color to the landscape.

The park's adobe-style picnic shelters are designed and grouped to resemble a Spanish hamlet, similar to those that existed in the area in earlier times. A footbridge gives hikers access to trails leading to other sites in the park, including a prehistoric Indian ruin and a cliff-top vantage point.

Bird watching

New Mexico State Parks offer varied, valuable habitats for birds and special attractions for birders. With close ties to Audubon New Mexico, several State Parks are listed as Important Bird Areas. Whether you are interested in a Ranger guided bird walk, or want to take off on your own for a quiet morning of birding, State Parks are the place to be.

Pancho Villa State Park

Located near the Mexican border, this park is in the border town of Columbus. The flora and water from irrigation draw many birds including: curve-billed thrasher, cactus wren, greater roadrunner, great horned owl, Inca dove, ladder-backed woodpecker, verdin, pyrrhuloxia, Gambel's quail, and black-throated sparrow. In summer, look for Bullock's and Scott's orioles and bronzed cowbird.

Rockhound State Park

Just south of Deming is Rockhound State Park. Spring and fall are the best times for viewing at both Rockhound and Spring Canyon units. Resident or wintering species include: Gambel's quail, Hutton's vireo, western scrub jay, Bewick's wren, western bluebird, ruby-crowned kinglet, Townsend's solitaire, phainopepla, greentailed towhee, black-chinned sparrow, and lesser goldfinch. Summer breeding birds include lesser nighthawk and common poor-will.

City of Rocks State Park

This park north of Deming has amazing geology with nearby springs. Birds found here include: western kingbird, curve-billed thrasher, cactus wren, scaled quail, western scrub-jay, sparrows, finches, and eastern meadowlark. Also possible are lesser nighthawk, common poorwill, great-horned owl and blue grosbeak.

Leasburg Dam State Park

This park is located on the Rio Grande about 20 miles north of Las Cruces. Flooded fields can produce: Wilson's snipe, Franklin's gull, American pipit, long-billed curlew, and various ducks. A trail runs along the river's edge between campgrounds and resident species include: rock wren, verdin, sparrows, crissal thrasher, canyon towhee, pyrrhuloxia, black phoebe, and ladder-backed woodpecker. In summer look for warblers, phainopepla, Bullock's oriole and warbling vireo.

Percha Dam State Park

Located north of Hatch along the Rio Grande, this is one of the best places in the state for bird-watching. The central area is an open bosque and is good for phainopepla, woodpeckers, flycatchers and vireos. The willow and cottonwood habitat boasts some of the best warbler watching during spring and fall migrations. The half-mile river trail is excellent for birds in all seasons. Watch the river for ducks, shorebirds and kingfishers, the bosque for passerines, hawks, owls and woodpeckers. Within a small woodland at the park, there are commonly flycatchers, woodpeckers and warblers during migration. Accipiters and falcons often seek the smaller birds here.

Caballo Lake State Park

This park is located on Caballo Reservoir, south of Elephant Butte Reservoir along the Rio Grande. The lake provides excellent fall viewing of: grebes, raptors, geese and ducks, quail, gulls, doves, owls, woodpeckers, phoebes, wrens, thrushes, thrashers, sparrows, and finches.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park

This park is prime for waterbirds and shorebirds. Elephant Butte is the largest lake in New Mexico and is best birded between September and May. At the lake, you may see American white pelicans, thousands of western and Clark's grebes, several terns and unusual gulls. Some of the better birding spots are at the marinas at Long Point, Three Sisters Point, and South Monticello Point (check for shorebirds, gulls, terns, waders, and ducks). Loons are more common at the southern end of the lake. Birding on land is best from Rock Canyon south, where tall scrub and houses with plants and feeders attract numerous species. Check migrating horned lark flocks for longspurs.

Fishing at New Mexico State Parks

Fishing, of all varieties, is one of the most popular activities at NM State Parks. Twenty-four parks have ponds, streams, rivers or lakes, providing a variety of different fishing experiences. From a lazy afternoon casting for pan-fish to a high-energy adventure of fishing for 40-inch tiger muskie, your State Parks have a lot to offer.

State Parks and the NM Department of Game and Fish are partners in supporting the best fishing opportunities in the state. Even when water levels are low, the fishing (and catching!) can be great.

In northern NM, trout is king when it comes to sport fishing. Rainbow, brown, lake and cutthroat trout can all be found in cold water lakes, rivers and streams.

Probably the most famous trout fishery is at the San Juan River at Navajo Lake State Park. The first 4 miles of the river below Navajo Dam is Special Trout Water with restrictions on the type of tackle used and the size and number of fish you can keep. The first 3.5 mile section is catch-and-release and the average size of trout is around 16 inches. Overall, there are 17 miles of river managed by Game and Fish for rainbow and brown trout.

Of course, the San Juan is not the only place to fish for trout and other parks with good trout fishing are: Bluewater Lake, Cimarron Canyon, Eagle Nest Lake, El Vado Lake, Fenton Lake, Heron Lake, Clayton Lake, Coyote Creek, Morphy Lake, and Sugarite Canyon State Parks.

As might be expected, southern parks are better known for warm water fisheries, including; sunfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass and catfish.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park is best known for white and striped bass fishing, but you can also catch largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, and catfish. This is a large lake and a fishing guide can help you find the best places to catch a lot of fish. You can also go it alone from the shoreline or a boat.

Other top warm water fisheries at a state park can be found at: Caballo Lake, Ute Lake, Sumner Lake, Santa Rosa Lake, Oasis and Brantley Lake State Parks.

Trails in New Mexico State Parks

The following are brief descriptions of selected trails at some of the 35 New Mexico State Parks. Several parks have downloadable (pdf) maps and trail guides (click on the highlighted trail name).

Bluewater Lake State Park

  • The trail is a steep and rocky ¼-mile climb leading to Bluewater Creek. The creek is a ribbon of green riparian habitat below the dam, which offers a change of scenery from the rest of the park. The creek water level can vary and it may not be possible to cross the creek on foot.

Bottomless Lakes State Park

  • The 3-mile Skidmarks Trail was built by and for mountain biking (great for hiking too!).
  • The ½-mile Wetlands Trail features a boardwalk to 3 wildlife viewing blinds.
  • The Bluff Trail is an easy nature trail (0.86 mile) with interpretive signs.

Cerrillos Hills State Park

  • The park features 5 miles of primitive trails through the piñon-juniper hills, with views to the Ortiz Mountains and beyond. Interpretive signs are located throughout the trail system, many of which focus on the historic mines in the park. Mountain bikes and horses are welcome on the trails, and guided horseback rides are available.

Cimarron Canyon State Park

  • The park provides access to trails in the Colin Neblett Wildlife Management Area. Vehicles parked at a trailhead must have either: a park permit; hunting or fishing license; or Department of Game and Fish GAIN permit. The Maverick Canyon Trails are old logging roads, with many unmarked intersections. These trails are not maintained by the State Parks Division.

City of Rocks State Park

  • The Hydra Trail is a 3.25-mile loop around the campground, with several options to create a shorter loop by returning to the campground road. Access the trail from the visitor center or the botanical garden.

Coyote Creek State Park

  • The 3/4 mile Eusebio Romero Trail takes you across the forested hillside above the creek. The trail climbs steeply up the hill behind the group shelter and returns to the creek near campsite 24 along a gentler grade.

Eagle Nest Lake State Park

  • The Lake View Trail is a relatively level, tranquil path from the park visitor center to the Village of Eagle Nest (0.41 mile) and from the Village to the Moreno Day Use Area (1.17 miles). The trail affords excellent views of wildflowers, lakeshore wildlife, and the surrounding mountains.
  • The Eagle Nest Lake multi-use trail extends 5 miles from the campground to the Cieneguilla Day Use Area.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park

  • The West Lakeshore Trail is a 10-mile trail that provides panoramic views of the lake and surrounding landscape. The trail can easily be hiked in shorter sections from the five trailhead parking areas between the City of Elephant Butte and the South Monticello Campground..
  • The 1.5-mile Luchini Trail winds through the sand dunes between the visitor center and the campgrounds and also provides pedestrian access to the Elephant Butte Inn.
  • The Paseo del Rio Trail is great for birding along the Rio Grande below the dam. The ¾-mile trail contains some interpretive signage of historic interest .
  • The Dirt Dam Trail is the closed road to the Elephant Butte Dam (the dam itself is closed to pubic access). This easy paved route is 1.5 miles.
  • Pick up a deluxe pocket trail guide with maps of all the trails at the visitor center.

Fenton Lake State Park

  • The Hal Baxter Trail – The 1-mile (one-way) trail follows the edge of the meadow and forest, along the south side of the Rio Cebolla. During the winter, use the campground road (closed to vehicles in the winter) to create a 2.3-mile loop for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. The trail affords great views of geologic features, forest, and creek habitat, and wildlife such as beaver, elk, deer, and mountain lions.

El Vado Lake State Park

  • The Rio Chama Trail - This 5-mile primitive trail that connects Heron Lake State Park to El Vado Lake State Park. At El Vado Lake, the trail begins north of the Elk Run Campground near Shale Point. From the trailhead at Heron Lake State Park, the trail starts with a wooden staircase and suspension bridge over the Rio Chama and quickly climbs into mixed conifer forest overlooking Heron Lake.

Heron Lake State Park

  • The East Meadow Trail - The 2.4-mile (one way) East Meadow Trail begins at the visitor center and winds through forest and meadows, with views of the Brazos Cliffs to an overlook of the lake.
  • Salmon Run Trail - The 5-mile Salmon Run Trail extends from the visitor center to the dam, passing a number of the park's developed campgrounds as it winds through a forest of ponderosa pine and Gambel oak. The trail offers many scenic overlooks of the lake and wildlife viewing opportunities.
  • Pick up a deluxe pocket trail guide with maps of the above trails at the Visitor Center.
  • The Rio Chama Trail connects Heron Lake State Park to El Vado Lake State Park. The trailhead is south of the highway, just east of the dam. The trail starting at Heron Lake features a staircase into the canyon and a suspension bridge across the Rio Chama.

Hyde Memorial State Park

  • This park has a trail for everyone - hike to a waterfall, along a creek through a forest of aspen and pine, or climb 1000' up to views of Santa Fe.
  • Circle Trail –The west side of the Circle Trail is 2.2 miles, climbing steeply from 8,400' to 9,440' at its highest point, providing an excellent view of the Rio Grande Valley to the west. The east side of the Circle Trail is 1 mile, with gentler grades, linking the campground, visitor center, and Waterfall Trail.
  • The Waterfall Trail is a 1/4 mile trail up a narrow, forested canyon to a spectacular waterfall.
  • The Piggyback Trail follows the Little Tesuque Creek for a half mile.

Leasburg Dam State Park

  • The trail system at Leasburg Dam State Park takes you through the variety of habitats found at the park, from the desert uplands to the riparian area along the Rio Grande. The Mogollon Trail along the river is ADA accessible and is an excellent place for birding.

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park

  • The Ocotillo Trail is a 1-mile developed trail managed by the City of Carlsbad. The trailhead is south of the visitor center on Miehls Drive.
  • Walking through the zoo on the paved pathway is 1 mile.

Navajo Lake State Park

  • The 1.32 mile North San Juan River Trail is on the north side of the river, starting at the BLM parking area. It is a scenic walk along the river through cottonwood trees, willows, and rocky cliffs. The 1.93 mile South San Juan River Trail extends from the Crusher Hole Day Use Area to the Lower Flats Day Use Area, with an extension to Texas Hole Day Use Area.
  • The newly rehabilitated BOR Trail provides access from the BOR Day Use Area to the popluar fly fishing waters of the San Juan River.

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park

  • The Riparian Nature Trail starts at the visitor center, leading to the small pools of water at the mouth of Dog Canyon, and then follows the dry creek bed before heading back up to the ruins of Frenchy's Cabin (0.5 mile). The trail provides the opportunity to view a variety of riparian vegetation, an uncommon experience in the arid desert.
  • The Dog Canyon Trail begins next to the visitor center and leads to the Lincoln National Forest in a ½ mile. This difficult trail starts at 4,400' and climbs 5 miles up the mountain to 7,600', ending at Forest Road 90B.

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park

  • The 1.7-mile network of trails between the Nature Center and the Rio Grande offers excellent birding opportunities. To ensure quality wildlife viewing, bicycles* and dogs are not permitted on the nature trails.
  • *Bikes and dogs can use the Candelaria Trail through the park to the Paseo del Bosque Trail (a 16-mile paved urban trail): http://www.cabq.gov/openspace/paseodelbosquetrail.html .

Rockhound State Park

  • The Rockhound unit of the park: the 0.64-mile Jasper Trail starts at the visitor center and connects to the Thunder Egg Trail (0.78 mile), which provides access to the rocky slopes overlooking the park.
  • Spring Canyon: the ½ mile Lovers Leap Trail offers solitude and scenery as it climbs to a viewpoint in the Florida Mountains.

Sugarite Canyon State Park

  • The park boasts nearly 13 miles of trails, offering a variety of experiences and scenery, from an old coal camp and other related mining sites to fabulous views of the watershed. The 2011 Track Fire burned fiercely in some areas of the park, but the recovery offers educational opportunities about fire science and environmental restoration to the interested visitor .
  • Sugarite Canyon Trail Guide pdf.

Sumner Lake State Park

  • The Discovery Trail is a 0.35-mile trail linking the visitor center and the overlook to the south.
  • The Fox Run Trail is a 1.7-mile primitive trail that begins near the Eastside Campground and winds around a narrow arm of the lake.
  • Also starting at the Eastside Campground or the end of the Fox Run Trail is a network of dirt roads that can be used as a trail system, especially good for bicycles (be aware of vehicles on these roads).

Ute Lake State Park

  • The Ute Lake Nature Trail - This 1.75-mile network of primitive trails leads to benches at several overlooks north of the Logan Campground. The trail winds past the edge of a canyon with interesting geologic features. There are 2 picnic shelters on the trail.

Villanueva State Park

  • The Viewpoint Loop Trail & El Cerro Trail – The Viewpoint Loop Trail is a rugged, 2-mile primitive trail that climbs the rocky slopes high above the Pecos River.
  • The El Cerro Trail is 0.64 miles (one way) and has a more gradual climb to a view of the park from the north side of the river.
  • The River Trail starts at the end of the park road and follows the edge of the river for 0.28 mile.

 

 

 

 

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