Boat or Fish at These 5 Great Spots Near Santa Fe
Fishing in the Rio Grande in fall.

Grab that fishing rod and tackle box. Hook up the boat trailer or load up the canoes and kayaks. There’s no shortage of water activities available to those visiting Santa Fe. The area’s beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams are perfect for reeling in some trout, cruising, or navigating some rapids on a raft. Here’s a look at five great locations to hit the water around Santa Fe. 

1 – Boat and Fish on Cochiti Lake

This brilliant body of water lies 40 miles west of Santa Fe in the Pueblo de Cochiti Indian Reservation. The lake is located on the Rio Grande and boasts one of the 10 largest earth-fill dams in the country. Those who love boating and fishing are in luck.

The lake offers two recreation areas, both with boat ramps. Reel in one of the many bass, crappie, walleye, catfish, sunfish, and trout in this well-stocked lake. Simply puttering around on the boat and taking in the natural surroundings is also a nice option.

Looking to tow that boat or kayak with a new truck? Check out these great choices.

Boat a lake or river with kayaks.

2 – Fly Fishing on the Rio Chama

This is the closest river to Santa Fe for those who love the beauty, challenge, and art of fly fishing. Chama is a major tributary of the Rio Grande and flows through the Chama River Canyon Wilderness area. Grab a fly rod and hopefully land a brown or rainbow trout.

Beyond the excellent fishing, some picturesque scenery awaits including the sandstone canyon rising 1,500 feet. Outfitted tours and boat launches are available; however, the Bureau of Land Management runs a boat launch lottery system during the spring and summer because of high demand. Cast that fly and hope for a nice catch. If not, a day on the river is a great experience anyway.

3 – Trout Fishing on the Pecos River

Land some rainbow and brown trout on the Pecos between Terrero and Cowles. New Mexico Fly Fishing Guide lists these six miles as some of the best in the state for these species. The area is about an hour east of Santa Fe and offers a picturesque fishing experience one might expect to see in a movie.

The entire Pecos Wilderness is part of the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests and also offers numerous lakes and streams to cast a line. Along with the great fishing, look for some amazing wildlife like elk, deer, bear, turkey, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Take a trip into real nature along the Pecos.

Fly fishing in New Mexico.

4 – Boat on Santa Cruz Lake

Boating fans are in luck with a trip to Santa Cruz, just 45 minutes north of Santa Fe. This scenic body of water is snow-fed from the Rio del Medio and Rio Frijoles, lying at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. That makes for a perfect backdrop while on the lake, whether fishing or simply motoring around while taking in the stunning views.

Anglers and boaters will find plenty to appreciate. Reel in a brown trout or just enjoy some time boating on the water. Make Santa Cruz a weekend trip with some nice hiking options available as well. This lake checks all an outdoor lover’s boxes.

Ford truck hauling a fishing boat.

Ready to drive to some of these great bodies of water? Visit Capitol Ford for that next ride.

5 – Raft the Rio Grande & Rio Chama

Head to the Alto area for the perfect float down the Rio Grande. Whether you’re an experienced paddler looking for some raging rapids or seeking a more relaxing experience, there’s something for everyone. The river runs 470 miles across New Mexico before splitting Mexico and Texas and eventually emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

Recreation enthusiasts will find some seasoned rafting operators or can jump in their own vessel to drift down the mighty Rio Grande. The Rio Chama offers an equally impressive rafting option. Grab a paddle and get ready for action. And when on those calmer stretches, relax a bit and watch the beautiful surroundings as you drift by.

Read more about fly fishing.


Ford truck parked near a lake.


This story sponsored by CAPITOL FORD


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This article was posted by Alba Burch

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