Long before reaching Quay County, travelers will see "Tucumcari Tonight" signs along I-40, which spans the entire width of the state. It will seem like an excellent idea to pull over to rest at one of Tucumcari's 1,200-plus motel rooms and refuel before driving on to Albuquerque, New Mexico, or Amarillo, Texas. But what those travelers miss if they keep their head down and their foot to the floor is a number of natural wonders, outdoor adventures and cultural and historic excursions. "Tucumcari Tonight" can easily be extended to "Tucumcari Today" and "Tucumcari Tomorrow"!
Not too far off the beaten path are sandstone rocks balancing in pinnacle formations, mesas and mountains, the cool winding water of the Canadian River, area lakes and a variety of wildlife including herds of prong horn antelope and mule deer, flocks of Canadian geese and sand hill cranes and many other animals.
The great plateau of El Llano Estacado or "staked plains" encompasses much of southern Quay County. This extremely large mesa covers about 32,000 square miles and extends into West Texas. In northern Quay County, the landscape generally consists of grassy mesas and rolling plains cut by numerous arroyos and canyons. The Canadian River, which flows from west to east across the northern part of the county, has been dammed to form Ute Reservoir.
The rolling plains provide hunters an excellent opportunity to bag deer, quail, antelope, barbary sheep, duck, dove and others. Quay County is noted as the best Blue Quail country in the nation. When hunters think of Quay, they think of Quail. This part of the world offers an ample supply of resources to keep one fit, active and invigorated, with golfing, swimming, fishing, boating or sailing.
Ute Lake State Park
Ute Lake State Park is 25 miles northeast of Tucumcari on Hwy 540, three miles west of Logan. This beautiful lake is known for its numerous coves and inlets — excellent fishing territory for walleye, smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill and channel catfish.
Ute Lake is the second largest lake in New Mexico. It was created in 1963 with construction of the 5,750-foot-long earth-filled Ute Dam, which impounds the Canadian River and is also fed by Ute Creek. Ute Lake has 8,200 surface acres and is the only major reservoir in New Mexico built entirely with state funds. It is also the the largest Labyrinth Weir Spillway Facility in the world. The lake is almost 13 miles long, but it's only a skinny one mile across.
The state park has three paved ramps on the north side and two on the south side for boating, water skiing, scuba diving, swimming, sailing, fishing and wind surfing. Windsurfing is popular on the lake, especially in the spring. Visitors can rent small boats and pedal-boats and purchase fishing and boating supplies at the marina. Several sandy beaches are in the north area, which also has picnic tables and campsites. In fact, the camping throughout the park is extensive, with 200 campsites available, 80 of which have hookups. Most of the campsites have good views and easy access to the lake, and showers are available in two areas.
The Cedar Valley Nature Trail loops 1.5 miles through fairly rugged terrain with panoramic views of the lake. The park also has an off-road vehicle area near Ute Creek and a small visitor center with exhibits and information on park activities.
Ute Lake State Park
Logan, NM 88426
Conchas Lake State Park
Just 32 miles northwest from Tucumcari are the clear, blue-green waters of Conchas Lake. This state park is an oasis in San Miguel County, but close enough for Tucumcari's residents and visitors to enjoy.
Tucumcari Lake and Wildlife Area
One mile from Tucumcari on Hwy 54 is Tucumcari Lake and Wildlife Area. This undeveloped 770 acre reserve provides excellent wildlife viewing, because the shallow lake and wetlands attract numerous birds, including ducks and geese, bald and golden eagles, doves, quail and pheasants. Plans are being made to add several developed trails to the reserve.
The Walleye Lakes are located near I-40 between Tucumcari and Santa Rosa. These three lakes offer excellent fishing for walleye, along with smallmouth and largemouth bass and channel catfish. Fishing for crappie is great some years.
Tucumcari Municipal Golf Course
Tucumcari Municipal Golf Course is one of the best courses in New Mexico. Just ask Mayor Charlie Maciel, Jr., or former Mayor Mike Loudder, also a golf pro at the course!
The golf course can be reached by going on Tucumcari Boulevard west to I-40. As the road curves toward the interstate, take the feeder road that continues straight. This beautiful course is situated among the mesas and offers not only an enjoyable and challenging course but a beautiful view. The course is open from 8 a.m. until dark every day except Monday, weather permitting. It's open on Mondays during holidays. Golfers will find a well-equipped pro shop under the management of experienced professional golfers.
Tucumcari Municipal Golf Course
P.O. Box 1188
Tucumcari, NM 88401