Elephant Butte, New Mexico
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Elephant Butte Reservoir is 35 miles long when full with over 2 million acrefeet of water. The dam across the Rio Grande was built 1912-16 and keeps the lake elevation around 4,400 feet when possible. Elephant Butte State Park is popular for recreation with many campsites in two locations on the west shore. We stayed at the main entrance campgrounds which have electricity and water to most campsites with fine restrooms and showers. Primitive camping is allowed all along the shoreline on the sandy beaches. Testing proved the water is fine for swimming! Fishing appeared to be good too.
Wide concrete boat ramps provide many lanes for launching boats. Keelboats launching at the main park should avoid the south side of the ramp when the water is low as it could be covered with sand.
To reserve a campsite at Elephant Butte State Park call 877 664 7787.
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In late July when we were there it was hot. Most days started calm and sunny with thunderstorms and wind building in the late afternoon. Wind shifts and gusts around the butte make for challenging sailing at times, but most of the lake is not around the butte. Wind is said to be better in spring and fall, and the temperature not so hot. The view is amazing, a desert with a lake.
The Elephant Butte is a volcanic core which now forms an island in the lake, viewed from the south side you can see an elephant head on the left. When the lake was filled, goats were trapped on the butte, and you can see their descendants still living there. It is quite large, you can compare it to the ski boat in the picture.
The town of Elephant Butte is on the west side of the lake with many RV parks and businesses. Groceries and more is available in nearby Truth or Consequences.