Nestled just south of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, directly off of I-25, Caballo Lake State Park is the perfect location for all your desert camping, hiking, animal watching trips, with the added benefit of also being one of the few places in Southern New Mexico for a full array of boating, fishing, jet skiing, windsurfing, and any number of other water-based activities. Glimmering at the base of the harsh but breathtaking Caballo Mountains, Caballo Lake plays host to a wide variety of outdoor activities all year round.
Much like an oasis provides parched desert wanders with a drink of life-sustaining water, Caballo Lake State Park and its neighbor Elephant Butte Lake State Park a little under 20 miles to the north provide a much needed break from the sweltering desert heat for New Mexicans in towns like Truth or Consequences, Williamsburg, Hatch, and Rincon. Sprawling almost 17,000 acres, over 11,000 of which create the lake’s surface, Caballo Lake has ample room for any and all outdoor desert activities. When most people think of New Mexico, the last thing that comes to their mind is great boating, yachting, or sail boating at an extremely affordable price. However, with three separate boat ramps and day use permits costing only $5 per vehicle or $40 annually, Caballo Lake State Park offers just that.
As a freshwater lake created via the damming of the Rio Grande, the fishing at Caballo is excellent and diverse. The lake is home to walleye, catfish, large mouth bass, white bass, rainbow trout, and a whole host of other game. Fisherman come from miles around to get on the water here, and it’s no wonder, with all the different species to vie for and the thousands of acres of water to scout out and explore. A map of the lake, including boat dock locations and clearly marked roads and campsites can be found here: http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/PRD/documents/Caballo_003.pdf or here: http://www.truthorconsequenceschamberofcommerce.com/area_cab_lake.htm as part of the Truth or Consequences Chamber of Commerce Website.
The water is far from the only thing that draws visitors to the park however, as there is a huge amount of camping locations and a few hiking trails that, in the right seasons, offer breathtaking vistas of cactus, yucca, prickly pear, and a variety of other desert fauna blooming in all their color and majesty. Late March through early April are the ideal times to camp and walk around the park, as the temperatures are still crisp and cool and the entire high desert is alive and vibrant with the blooming glory of newly flowering plants. Anyone who thinks the desert is a drab, gray, boring place to hike has surely never seen the place in bloom, as it is a unique, awe-inspiring experience available almost nowhere else on Earth. The park’s gate never closes, and walk-ins to the park are totally free, so there really is no wrong time to enjoy a brisk hike, be it noontime or moonlight, throughout the calming and peaceful desert.
Thousands of avid bird watchers are drawn to the park annually for the famous migration of both Bald and Golden Eagles, who begin nesting there every year in late October and early November. Seeing our nation’s symbol up close and in its own habitat is something not many Americans can attest to doing, but Caballo Lake is one of the few places in the country where a visitor can do just that. Of course, there are many other birds and other desert animals to observe at the park, including roadrunners, New Mexico’s state bird, and hawks and turkey vultures.
One of America’s most affordable and under reviewed state parks, Caballo Lake is a majestic diamond in the rough. For the outdoors man and fisherman, there is never a dull moment on the Lake. For the nature lover in your family, there is literally always something new to experience and marvel at. Offering wholly unique experiences both on and off the water, along with close proximity to all the famous New Mexico hospitality and unbeatable Mexican food the state is famous for, this is a vacation spot that, any time of year, is well worth investigating.