Elephant Lake and Elephant Lake State Park

Written by on November 16, 2016 in NM Outdoor Adventures - Comments Off on Elephant Lake and Elephant Lake State Park

Located in the lower Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, Elephant Butte Lake State Park is the state’s largest and most popular park. The 40-mile-long reservoir offers all sort of watersports, including boating, water-skiing, fishing, scuba diving, swimming and canoeing. Lovely sand beaches and quiet coves offer solitude to enjoy the beauty of nature and the breathtaking sandstone cliffs and sparkling blue water and ski.

elephantbuttelake

Elephant Lake State Park offers numerous camping areas, picnic spots, comfort stations, playgrounds, marinas, boat ramps and concession areas. Scenic nature trails crisscross the area, making it a popular hiking destination. The visitor’s center offers interpretive exhibits of geology, history and ecology for the area. The lake is the focus for many festivals and events throughout the year, from the annual Chili Cook Off in June to the Air Balloon Regatta in September.

If you love fishing, Elephant Lake offers plenty of challenges — try your hand at catching black and white bass, catfish, pike or crappie.  If trout are your preferred game, try casting for the trophy rainbows of the Rio Grande River.

The lake is named for a rock formation on an island in the lake. Most people the rock resembles an elephant, including the left side of its head, ear, and the elephant’s trunk curled by its foot. The island and rock formation are actually the eroded core of an ancient volcano. While no elephants live in New Mexico, bones of a primitive ancestor (the stegomastadon) have been found near the lake.

More than 100 million years ago, the stunning sandstone cliffs and rock formations that make up the shores of the lake were part of a sandy shallow ocean. Today, fossils of ancient ammonites and nautilus can be found in the cliffs. In addition, dinosaur bones from the tyrannosaurus rex and ankylosaur have also been discovered.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began construction of Elephant Butte Dam in 1911.  When it was completed in 1916, it was the largest structure built in the United States to impound water, creating the world’s largest man-made reservoir at the time.  The dam is 306 feet high and 1,674 feet long, and retains a reservoir that covers approximately 36,000 acres.

The closest town to Elephant Lake is Truth or Consequences (honest!), New Mexico. This small resort town offers plenty of options for lodging, dining and shopping options.

Elephant Butte State Park
P.O. Box 13
Elephant Butte, NM 87935
575 744-5421

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