You can enjoy the marvelous beauty, history and varied activities offered to visitors of New Mexico’s Navajo Lake State Park throughout all seasons of the year. Navajo Lake, the second largest lake in New Mexico, covers upwards of 15,000 acres of water surface. Providing a full menu of water sports and activities, the lake is also home to a remarkable variety of both cold and warm water fish species. During the summer months, with temperatures generally around 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, Navajo Lake is especially popular for boating, water skiing, and fishing. In addition, its more rugged side canyon terrain areas are great for house-boating.
Navajo Lake State Park, stretching over 21,000 acres at an elevation of 6,100 feet, encompasses three major recreational activity areas. The Pine River section offers a modern informative visitors’ center, extensive campgrounds and day sports and activities areas, and a large marina with complete services. On the other side of the lake, Sims Mesa which is reachable by means of NM 527 (a roadway which is gravel, in sections), has a visitors’ center with attractive exhibits, spacious campgrounds, and a modern, full-service marina. Beyond Navajo Dam lies the San Juan River region, famous for superb trout fishing. Handicapped and wheelchair access is provided and often used in this popular area of the park. Nearby, Cottonwood Campground is available seven days per week, offering several extensive scenic hiking trails.
The park’s overall forest and lake environment is enhanced by piñon and juniper cloaking the hillsides. Especially near the water, this lush vegetation encourages the presence of all kinds of wildlife. For example, sun-worshipping lizards are often a common sight, and the colder months bring the graceful swooping and soaring of bald eagles. Many of Navajo Lake State Park’s scenic views are breathtakingly beautiful, and some of the very earliest settlements and communities in the US Southwest were in this locale. General park activities include camping, hunting, trail hiking, picnicking, fishing, boating and sailing, water skiing, scuba diving and other water sports, wildlife viewing, winter sports and geology viewing.
Navajo Lake actually resulted from construction of the Navajo Dam spanning the San Juan River. This river originates in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, flowing southward into New Mexico. Crossing the state’s northern edge (passing Farmington, Shiprock and Four Corners), it then flows into Utah to create the goosenecks of Goosenecks State Park. Due to the water back-up caused by the dam, the lake is quite impressive in size. Water is, in fact, backed-up as far as 30 miles above the location of Navajo Dam.
The single major approach road to Navajo Lake State Park is NM 539, with the gravel roadway of NM 527 running to the Sims Mesa area. Sections of the park are also reachable by way of NM 511. Many other sections of shoreline are only accessible by a series of rough tracks through the hilly, rugged land. The extreme northern portion of shoreline reaches beyond the Colorado state border, near main road CO 151. This particular segment of the lake is not included in the park. It is actually part of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. NM 511 runs along the route of San Juan River, and then ascends, heading up and over Navajo Dam. It then continues toward the main park area, near Entrance Number Four. This park segment consists of an attractive marina with floating pontoons, a campsite, a grocery store, picnic areas and a ranger station. Here you will be mesmerized by the picturesque, panoramic view of blue water, small sandy beaches interspersed with rising cliffs of light, sparkling limestone, and the craggy rock slopes and ledges above them.
You can contact the offices of Navajo Lake State Park for further information and to make reservations on the state park Website: http://www.nmparks.com or by telephone at 877-NM4-RSVP. The price of an annual day-use-permit for all park areas is $40. An annual camping pass is $180 for New Mexico residents; $100 for senior and disabled NM state residents; and $225 for out-of-state visitors. Parking fees per day are $5 per car and $15 per bus. For overnight camping, use of a primitive site costs $8; a developed site costs $10; and electrical and sewage hookup cost $4 each, while water hookup is free. And, if you are an avid fan of parks and out-of-doors recreation who does not like camping, the closest towns to Navajo Lake State Park with the creature comforts offered by hotels are Bloomfield, Dulce and Farmington.