Visit New Mexico State Parks

Santafe.com - May 24, 2017

Explore the Outdoors

1. Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park 

Where: Carlsbad
Elevation: 3,482
Miles from Santa Fe: 273 

This native wildlife zoo, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, exhibits more than 40 species of animals and hundreds of species of plants native to the Chihuahuan Desert. The park provides an up-close experience for visitors, with a variety of fun interpretive programs for every season geared for the entire family. Living Desert also has beautiful hiking trails, picnic areas, and group facilities. There is no camping and no pets are allowed. 

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2. City of Rocks State Park

Where: Deming
Elevation: 5,259 ft
Miles from Santa Fe: 321

City of Rocks gets its name from the incredible volcanic rock formations found here. The park encompasses a one square mile area in the scenic Chihuahuan desert region of southwestern New Mexico at an elevation of 5,200 feet. The “city” is a geologic formation made up of large, sculptured rock columns, or pinnacles, rising as high as 40 feet and separated by paths or lanes resembling city streets. These rocks were formed about 34.9 million years ago when a very large volcano erupted. Then, erosion over millions of years slowly formed the sculptured columns seen today, creating a stunning, otherworldly landscape.

Located about halfway between Silver City and Deming, City of Rocks offers camp sites, hiking trails, excellent mountain biking, wildlife viewing, birding, stargazing, picnic areas and a desert botanical garden. The uniquely designed, new Visitor Center includes a large display area and modern restrooms with hot showers. City of Rocks State Park is your official sponsor of adventure! 

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3. Bluewater Lake State Park

Where: Prewitt 
Elevation: 7,554 ft
Miles from Santa Fe: 163

This serene lake, located 25 miles west of Grants, is set in a pinon-juniper landscape with views towards the Zuni Mountains. The park offers camping, hiking, birding, horseback riding, and fishing. And not just any fishing – you’ll find some of the best tiger muskie fishing at Bluewater Lake! 

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4. Sugarite Canyon State Park


Where: Raton 
Elevation: 6,664 ft
Miles from Santa Fe: 181

The nature enthusiast will appreciate the abundance of wildlife, birds, butterflies, and wildflowers among the lakes, creeks, forests, and meadows. Nearly all outdoor recreation activities are possible: Fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, and camping.

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5. Elephant Butte Lake State Park 

If you like camping, fishing, boating, or just being outdoors, Elephant Butte is for you. There is plenty of water and plenty of beach room and this is New Mexico's largest State Park. Elephant Butte Lake can accommodate watercraft of many styles and sizes: kayaks, jet skis, pontoons, sailboats, ski boats, cruisers, and houseboats. Remember to wear your life jacket. Boat safe and boat smart! Besides sandy beaches, the State Park offers restrooms, picnic areas, playgrounds, and developed sites with electric and water hook-ups for RV's. 

Where: Elephant Butte 
Elevation: 4,527 ft
Miles from Santa Fe: 209

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6. Clayton Lake State Park

The park is an oasis in the rolling grasslands of northeastern New Mexico. Enjoy boating, picnicking, camping, fishing and hiking. Get a unique glimpse of the past when you explore one of the most extensive dinosaur trackways in North America and a close-up look at the stars at the Lake Observatory. 

Where: Clayton 
Elevation: 5,186 ft
Miles from Santa Fe: 228

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7. Pancho Villa State Park

Located at the border of Mexico, the park exhibit hall and historic structures capture the history of the Pancho Villa Raid and historic Camp Furlong. The large campground offers utility hookups for campers with RVs, and a playground for the kids.

Where: Columbus 
Elevation 4,073 ft
Miles from Santa Fe: 328

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8. Cimarron Canyon State Park

The Cimarron River flows through this narrow, forested canyon, located near Eagle Nest on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. The park offers beautiful views, interesting geology, quiet camping, fly fishing, hiking and equestrian trails. The wildlife viewing opportunities are amazing, as the park sits at the center of the Colin Neblett Wildlife Management Area.

Where: Eagle Nest 
Park Elevation 7,876 ft
Miles from Santa Fe: 98 

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9. Navajo Lake State Park

Navajo Lake is the second largest lake in the state, with multiple campgrounds, two marinas, and two boat docks. Navajo is a haven for boaters of every stripe – motorized boaters, canoers, kayakers, water skiers and sailors. The San Juan River is a world-class fly fishing destination and features a campground, day use areas and a serene trail along the river. Navajo Lake State Park offers some of the best boating, fishing, hiking, and camping in New Mexico. 

Where: Navajo Dam
Elevation 5,600 – 6,600 ft
Miles from Santa Fe: 186

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10. Heron Lake State Park

A picturesque lake set among the tall pines of northern New Mexico, Heron Lake State Park has been designated a “quiet lake” where boats operate at no-wake speeds only, making it an excellent location for all types of paddle craft. Heron also has amazing sailing, cross-country skiing, and hiking. Heron is a fisherman's paradise with record-size trout and kokanee salmon. Ice fishing is very popular in winter. Several campgrounds line the shore of this scenic lake with primitive and developed campsites are available for every taste. 

Where: Los Ojos 
Elevation 7,167 ft
Miles from Santa Fe: 100

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