Home » 2002 Cross Country Road Trip

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, NM

Friday, August 2, 2002 - 8:30am by Lolo
144 miles and 3.75 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


We arrived at Elephant Butte Lake State Park early in the afternoon of a very hot day, ready for some refreshing water activities. At the park gate, we were informed that we had a choice of an established campground with electric and water hookups or that we could just drive on the beach and park anywhere. We all agreed that the beach sounded good.

Muddy Butte BoysMuddy Butte BoysWe then began a stressful 2-hour search for a camping spot on the beach. Because of a multi-year drought, the water levels in the lake were way down leaving much larger but muddier beaches. After making several inquiries as to the best place to drive our RV on the beach, we were warned that it was all too common to have to be towed out after getting stuck in the sand. The kids kept pushing for a beach spot and we tried several times to drive onto the beach, but the sand soon turned too soft. We finally gave up and went to one of the established campgrounds overlooking the lake.

Although the views were good, we were really too far from the lake for easy access to swimming, especially since the lake levels were so low. We decided to ride the mountain bikes down to the beach for a swim. At first things went well, but then Andrew and I took a shortcut and sunk our tires about 8 inches into the mud. The mud was like quicksand and actually pulled our sneakers off so that we almost lost them. After quite a struggle, we finally managed to get our bikes and shoes to dry ground, but we were completely covered in mud.

Herb tried to package it as a spa mud treatment, but not buying it, I jumped in the lake to wipe it off as quickly as I could. The boys, on the other hand, felt that mud was a good thing and proceeded to smear even more of the stuff all over each other. To each his own.


Elephant Butte Lake was created in 1916 by damming the Rio Grande River. This 43-mile long lake is the largest body of water in New Mexico and has more than 200 miles of shoreline. Its name comes from an elephant-shaped island in the southern end of the lake that was formed from the eroded core of a volcano.

Lolo and Boys post mud bike rideLolo and Boys post mud bike ride This state park is very popular for fishing, boating, swimming, skiing, etc. There are designated camp sites as well as beach camping for those willing to chance the sand.


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