Elephant Butte Lake State Park and Reservoir
The largest and most popular lake in New Mexico, Elephant Butte Lake State Park provides a setting for every imaginable water sport. The visitor center offers regional interpretive exhibits. The mild climate of the area makes this park a popular year-round destination.
Warmth and Water
Elephant Butte Reservoir, created by a dam constructed in 1916 across the Rio Grande, is 40 miles long with more than 200 miles of shoreline. Although constructed to provide for irrigation and flood control, the lake is New Mexico's premier water recreation facility. A wide variety of water sports are available at the lake, with fishing being one of the most popular.
Over 100 million years ago, the area was part of a vast shallow ocean. Once the sea receded, the area was the favorite hunting ground of the tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur. Evidence of the Rex, the largest land-dwelling predator of all time, and other species of dinosaur have been discovered in area rock formations.
What's in a Name?
Although fossils of the stegomastodon (a primitive relative of today's elephant) have been discovered just west of the reservoir, the area was not named for its former and formidable inhabitants, the name "Elephant Butte" was derived from the eroded core of an ancient volcano, now an island in the reservoir, in the shape of an elephant.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park headquarters are five miles north of Truth or Consequences via I-25 exit 83.
$5 day use; annual day use $40 all parks. $8-18 overnight camping; annual $180-225 all parks. More info: www.emnrd.state.nm.us/PRD/FeesPermits.htm