Boating Around The Country - Elephant Butte Lake


Elephant Butte is the largest artificial lake in New Mexico.  It is found in a fairly remote location along the Rio Grande. There are over 200 miles of shoreline and 40 miles of the river valley, including a marshland that extends several miles upstream towards Bosque del Apache. The locals and tourists enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming in the lake. There are many marinas, boat launches, and beaches within a 5-mile radius, which make enjoying the area very easy and convenient, especially by boat. 

The lake was constructed back in 1916 as a result of the Elephant Butte Dam. Back then, the project aimed to provide power and irrigation to southern parts of New Mexico and west Texas.

While it still provides a sufficient amount of energy, the area now attracts manytourists throughout the year.

The lake has fairly mild weather year-round. Many will take advantage of this and boat or fish in each season. The park also has 173 campsites for beach camping and boat-in camping. South Monticello, Quail Run, Lions Beach, and Desert Cove are among the most popular campgrounds. 

Here are some of our recommendations for enjoying Elephant Butte Lake:


Many boaters in the area participate in watersports, like water skiing, wakeboarding, and wake surfing. You can use motorized or nonmotorized boats in the lake, if kayaking is more up your alley. For the most part, sailboats and power boats are more popular. As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few marinas and ramps along the lake. There are also boat rentals available for tourists.

Fishing & Ice Fishing

Anglers can enjoy a wide variety of fishing opportunities at Elephant Butte Lake. You can go fishing from a boat or from a nearby pier. Elephant Butte hosts largemouth bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill, bass, and catfish. In the winter, you can go ice fishing. Tiger muskellunge and crappie are popular catches during the colder months.


The lake has over 200 miles of shoreline and many beaches throughout. Head to the beach to escape the summer heat and cool off with a nice swim in the lake. 

Mountain Biking

There are tons of trails with wide gravel paths for mountain bikers. The West Lakeshore Trail is the most popular, with sections of uneven surfaces, deep sand, and winding routes.


There are over fifteen miles of trailhead that wind through the desert hills above the lake. Many offer panoramic views of the park and wildlife sightings, including jackrabbits, lizards, and exotic wildflowers.

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