Boating Lakes in New Mexico

Wondering about boating lakes in New Mexico? Whether you want to launch your boat to go fishing. Or maybe you'd like to rent a boat to explore a lake. Perhaps you'd like to take the kids on a boat ride. That would be fun!

We have some suggestions for you. Some want to take their small boat or kayak or water toy to a calm lake, away from speed-boats. 

Others enjoy the speed, maybe to tow someone - like water-skiers!

Those without a boat, still like to get on the water with a rental.

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Let's see where to go! Click to choose what you want, or scroll on down for all the choices.

All Speeds Lake 4 Me!
No Wake / Trolling Speed
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No Wake / Trolling Speed Lakes

STONE LAKE - Also known as Boulder Lake. Located on Jicarilla Apache lands in Northern NM. Normally 450 surface acres.

The Jicarilla Dept. of Game & Fish ( 505-759-3255) manages the lake. Camping & picnicking is lakeside.1 Drinking water is only available at Game/Fish office in Dulce.2

A Concrete Ramp gets your boat into the lake.1 It's recommended to get on the lake with small boats or float tubes.2

Planning to Fish? Perfect! It's a designated trophy lake. Remember, only artificial flies or lures, with barbless hooks on your fishing rig.

  • Hours only 1/2-hour pre-sunrise to 1/2-hour post-sundown. 
  • Jicarilla Apache Fishing License required.2

Directions: Hwy.84N out of Santa Fe to Tierra Amarilla, turn West on Rt.95. After Heron & El Vado Lakes, turn right on Tribal Road J8 to lake.1

SNOW LAKE3 - In Gila National Forest, of Southwestern NM. You'll get away from it all here.

At 7,332 ft. elevation. It's really a small reservoir. You'll realize that when you see the dam at the southern end of the lake.

Crystal clear waters. Clean, well-kept campground adjacent. More info: 575-388-8201

Snow Lake Trail #142 follows the west side of Lake, crossing the dam. If you continue trekking it merges with Middle Fork Trail.

If you'll be fishing, trout is stocked 3X/year in cooler months.

For Your Boating:

  • Non-motorized or electric motors only, allowed only in daytime hours, April-Nov.
  • A boat launch ramp is near the campground.

Get There: From Reserve NM, travel 52 miles SE, about 2 hours. Take 435S becoming Reserve-Bauerhead Rd., right on Rt.153, bear left onto FR-180, left at Bearwallow Lookout (119), right at NM-159, left at FR-142 out to lake area.

HERON LAKE - Scenic area of Northern NM presents this reservoir that's prone to drought ramifications. Normal level is 6,000 surface acres, with 35 shoreline miles. But it's shrunk now from normal, which may affect your experience at this boating lake in New Mexico.

Before planning a trip, Check Current Conditions.

Non-motorized Boating is fabulous if water status is adequate. Their rules strictly enforce only that type boating, & sailing. Motorized boating allowed, but only at no-wake speed.

Therefore it's popular for windsurfing, canoeing & kayaking.

August Paddle Power Festival - Don't miss it! Attracts many canoeists & kayakers. Is that you?

The Primary Boat Ramp is at Willow Creek. Because it's doable in low water conditions.

  • La Laja Ramp concrete ramp & Ridge Rock dirt ramp are variable. Contact: 575-588-7470
  • Island View gravel ramp cannot be used with low water conditions.

Directions: Take I-25N from Albuquerque. Exit 282 onto St. Francis Drive south. At Santa Fe use Exit 282, merging onto Hwy.285N/84N. Drive 28 miles.

In Espanola make left following 285 N/84N. Stay on 84N about 66 miles until just past Tierra Amarilla & Hwy.112 turnoff.

AVALON RESERVOIR - From waters of the Pecos River, an earth-fill dam was built in 1907. Its main purpose was containing water for local irrigation needs.6

But a secondary benefit has been recreation, like New Mexico boating. Also fishing for white bass, catfish &  bream. 

Good to poor roads into the area. Use caution.

Free campground, but sadly people complain of litter. Recreation managed by Carlsbad Irrigation District, 505-885-6263

No Fee For BoatingOnly paddle-craft such as canoes & kayaks, or small trolling boats are allowed here.

  • Concrete ramp on the lake's east side, with 2 lanes.

Caution: during flood years much debris deposits just below the surface.

Directions: In Carlsbad, NM, take N.Canal St./Rt.206N, turn left on Avalon Rd./602, to lake area.


COCHITI LAKE - This reservoir impounds Rio Grande waters via a large earthen dam.

It's within the Pueblo de Cochiti Indian Reservation. Thus their laws apply here (for instance, no alcohol). The Army Corp of Engineers manages the Recreation Areas.

This New Mexico boating lake is No-Wake. Paddle-craft, wind surfing & sailing-craft are very welcome. 

Boat Ramp on the Western Shore at Cochiti Rec-site. Swimming beach there too. Day use fee charged.

Tetilla Peak campground on the East lakeshore. Water/electric sites at Buffalo Grove Loop & a few at Juniper. Reservations online at Recreation-Gov

Directions: From Albuquerque, take I-25N, to exit 259. Drive NW on Hwy.22 (Cochiti Hwy.) to entry where Cochiti Hwy. goes into western lakeside recreation area. 505-465-2557

LATIR LAKES - The ultimate people paddling powered boating lakes. A well maintained 4X4 road gets you to Lake3, then you hike.9

The entire area is the private Rio Costilla Park & Campground.

  • With reasonable entrance day-use fee, plus if camping an extra fee for that. 

They allow canoes & kayaks on the lakes. If you have one portable enough to carry up to the higher ones, or go for it on the lower lakes - you'll love this serene spot!

map showing the series of Latir Lakes

CANJILLON LAKES - Get high up there, approx. 9900' elevation. In Carson National Forest.

Several small lakes with only about 2 to 4 surface acres.

Only suitable for paddle-craft.

There's a campground & access road. Trout fishing is pretty good, too.

Usually open through Oct./Nov. Best to check updates, with ongoing Drought Conditions.

Motorized & People Powered
Boating Lakes in New Mexico

RED BLUFF RESERVOIR7,8 - These waters are at New Mexico's lowest elevation.

The 11,000 surface acres of lake are shared with Texas, majority on the Texas side.4

New Mexico has some miles where you can fish from the shore.4 Or enjoy cool offshore breezes.

For Boat Launching:

  • A boat ramp is in the Pecos River Corridor Recreation Area, managed by the BLM. 
  • There's an earthen launch ramp at the southern shore, Texas side.4

Get There: Take Rt.285S from Loving. Exit East on county Hwy.726, which follows the state line to the public ramp.5

EL VADO LAKE -  Waterskiing, jet-skiing, sailing & windsurfing are all popular on this 2,100+ surface acre reservoir.

FYI: No Fuel available at the lake. Closest is in Tierra Amarilla. Another "close" is Chama, New Mexico.

2 Ramps get your watercraft in:

  • Go past the main park office for the main ramp
  • North El Vado Ramp - Off Hwy.95

Be Aware of these precautions:

  • Prevailing winds come from the West & Southwest.
  • Know about, and be wary of Afternoon Monsoon Storms
  • Keep-Out Zone: Buoys north of the Launch Ramp mark this area. It has the park's water supply pump line. Entering this zone brings a citation.
  • No Wake Zone: Above the North Launch Ramp begins the Rio Chama. For safety &  environmental concerns. Violators will be cited.
  • 150 Foot Distance Rule: Boating & watersports operators must stay that far from all shorelines. To ensure safety of towed persons & lakeshore activities.

Directions: From Santa Fe, take Hwy.285/84N for 28 miles. In Espanola turn left onto 285/84N. Follow US-84N about 64 miles, passing Tierra Amarilla & make sharp left onto NM-112.

Drive about 15 miles to park entrance road, & follow this road to lake. 505-588-7247

UTE LAKE - Gathering Canadian River waters via its dam, its quite a long lake. In the Northeastern high desert of New Mexico.

This boating lake's got about all recreational features you could want. Even Wi-Fi!

Best Boating is from the state park.10

water survival instructors in a boating vehicle on a lakeUSAF Staff Sergeant Adam Murphy of 27th Special Ops Support Squadron
Conducting Water Survival Course at Ute Lake NM

Boating of All Types, from kayaks to motoring with skiers gliding behind. There's a boat ramp, boat-dock, a marina.

  • Even a community boat dock, for which you must fill out An Application.

Stay over at your choice among multiple campsites, many with hook-ups.

They have a swimming beach for summer cooling off!

Directions: From Tucumcari NM, take Hwy. 54N for 25 Miles, to Logan. Turn West on 540 loop, drive 2 miles to park entry. 575-487-2284

Boat Rentals
At NM Boating Lakes

Do you love to go boating? Yet you don't have your own boat! There could be several reasons why that's true.

  • You hate towing a boat on a trailer to the boating lake you love or would love to visit.
  • You live in a community with an HOA & they won't let you store a boat on your property. (We feel your pain!)
  • You're only able to get out to a boating lake a few times a season, so it's not worth the cost.
  • You really dislike the chores & maintenance with taking care of your own boat.

We get that, as several of those on that list affect us! We don't have a boat, and yes, we feel your pain! 

There's a solution for you. We need to rent one when we want to go boating. There's always boat rentals available. We know of some boating lakes in New Mexico which have rental boats nearby for your convenience.

Here's a selection of them:

NAVAJO LAKE MARINANavajo Lake is a fabulous NM lake for boating.

And right there is a full-service marina. They have all kinds of Water Sport Toys.

Plus of course the usual kayaks, deck-boats, pontoons, power-boats for skiing & fishing. Even houseboats! Tell them your needs - they may have something right up your alley!

Find them at the lake's south end, in the State Park's Pine Campground.

  • More details: 
  • OR 505-632-3245 or 800-582-5687

MARINA DEL SUR - On Elephant Butte Lake. In Southeastern NM.

They rent out 3 types of pontoon style boats with room for 12.

Located at 101 South Highway 195. Not far off Interstate 25.

Call for details: 575-744-5567.

Regular Pontoon: Bimini Shade awning, Cooler, Refrigerated Cup Holder, Tow Bar & Blue-Tooth Stereo System. Wheelchair Accessible.

Pontoon Ski Boat: 4-speaker sound system, Tri-toon Flotation, adjustable shade, tow bar, covered cooler.

Slide Pontoon: 2-story, with boat-wide water-fed slide from top deck, provides shade. 4-speaker sound system, tow bar, Tri-toon flotation. Wheelchair accessible.

INN OF THE MOUNTAIN GODS - Boat rentals at Mescalero Lake in New Mexico's mountains.

Step it up for a resort type vacation with multiple activities, when you arrive at this boating lake in New Mexico.

Boating Rentals have specific rules to know about. Must be 14 years/+ to navigate boat without adult. If under age 18, parent/legal guardian must sign liability waiver in person. 

Easy use varieties available:

  • Single or Double Kayaks, 2/4-seat pedal boats, row boats (with or without motor) & paddle boards.

Pricing begins at 30-min. minimum. Reservations Required. Call 575-464-7957

EAGLE NEST MARINA - At Eagle Nest Lake, provided by this family-owned resort.

Boat Rentals include pontoons, 14' boats (elec./gas motor) & kayak rentals. Safety equipment & gas included in rental.

They even launch the boat & retrieve it out for you at rental's end.

Additional services are guided fishing trips, plus winter ice fishing & ski bike rentals.

Cabin rentals & campground lakeside.

Use their Contact Form to inquire or see about reservations.

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