New Mexico is known for a lot of things. But, for most people, boating is probably not first on the list. Shocking, right? Who doesn’t turn to the desert when looking for large bodies of water? Well, that’s fine by us. This lack of recognition is partly what keeps New Mexico’s best-kept secret secret. From the cool northern lakes to the warm southern lakes, New Mexico has a great variety of clean and clear lakes perfect for swimming, boating, and soaking up summer. In today’s blog post, we would like to share with you some of these top lakes as well as a few helpful reminders regarding boating in New Mexico.

Cochiti Lake

Located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Cochiti Lake features an artificial beach and a number of amenities popular with families. One attraction that is especially popular with families is the safe swimming area that is cordoned off from boats and regularly patrolled by rangers. From early July and onward, the lake stays at a comfortable temperature.

Navajo Lake

Nestled along the Colorado border, Navajo Lake is just 25 miles east of Bloomfield, and it is the largest lake after Elephant Butte. There are over 250 miles of shoreline among the pinon-covered rimrock. Along the coast, you will find many boat ramps, and on the New Mexico side, you’ll find two full-service marinas. The area also includes a number of campgrounds, sand beaches, and opportunities for outdoor adventures. 

Conchas and Ute Lakes

Conchas Lake offers an array of secret spots for picnicking, camping, and relaxing. On top of this, there are many coves and inlets that are virtually only accessible by boats. And the lake also includes a marina, plenty of boat ramps, food services, playground, and even a golf course. This diversity is partly why it has earned a reputation for being a boater’s paradise.

As one of the most popular lakes in the state, Ute Lake is regularly buzzing with speedboats. However, there are opportunities for a number of other activities like camping and windsurfing, especially in the spring when the winds blow steady. Both Conchas and Ute Lakes are located close to Tucumcari.

Elephant Butte and Bottomless Lakes

At a whopping 40 miles long and spanning over 36,000 acres, Elephant Butte is the largest lake in New Mexico. It is also one of the first lakes to warm up in early summer. For locals and people from all over, Elephant Butte has long been a top summer boating choice.

Although they only allow non-motorized boating, Bottomless Lakes is still one of New Mexico’s hidden gems. Legend has it that the name originated during the time when cowboys tied saddle ropes together trying to probe the depth of the lake. The deepest part of the lake, Lea Lake, is 90 feet deep and is the only lake where swimming is prohibited. The lake is home to some unusual geology and quartz crystals, making it the perfect spot for those looking for a splash and a stroll.

Looking for more lakes? Check out this list of New Mexico boating waters.

New Mexico Boating Reminders

Before you set out on your adventure, it’s important to make sure that you are well-prepared and that your boat and operators are legal and safe. Here are some useful reminders and resources:

  • Boating Safety Education is mandatory. As of January 2007, New Mexico is one of 48 states requiring all operators to have a Boater Education Card. Unlike the Motor Vehicle Driver’s Education Courses, however, boating education classes can be taken for free online. And for all operators born after January 1, 1989, they must carry proof of their education when boating.
  • All motorized vessels must be registered, and a title is required for all motorized and sail-powered vessels that are 10 feet or longer in length. Titles and registrations can be obtained through the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (NMMVD or MVD) online or by calling 1-888-MVD-INFO.
  • Make sure your boat is legally and adequately equipped with everything that you need to have a fun and safe time. Be sure to adhere to this list of New Mexico Boating Legal Requirements.

Need Boat Repairs?

If you are in the New Mexico area and are in need of boat repairs, including marine electrical services, boat interior repair, marine surveying, and other boat services, contact our Farmington boat shop. Learn more about us and contact us today to get started.