20 New Mexico State Parks

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If you are thinking of heading to the Land of Enchantment then you should definitely add some of these state parks to your itinerary. Five major ecosystems dominate the New Mexico landscape. From desert to scrubland to marshes, there’s so much to see in New Mexico and sometimes places really do feel otherworldly. New Mexico has a number of lake state parks that act as a wonderful oasis in the desert landscape. With rocks, mountain walks and parks with animals, there’s plenty to see. Here are the state parks in New Mexico you wouldn’t want to miss. 

New Mexico State Parks

20 State Parks In New Mexico

1- Clayton Lake State Park and Dinosaur Trackways

Clayton Lake State Park and Dinosaur Trackways is in northeastern New Mexico just 20 minutes’ drive outside of Clayton.

This state park is home to one of the most extensive dinosaur trackways in North America and it’s well worth a visit if you love dinosaurs and history.

As well as seeing the dinosaur tracks there are hiking and interpretive trails.

You can also head out onto the lake where motorised, non-motorized and canoes, kayaks and boards are all allowed. 

For camping there are five different campgrounds with restrooms, showers and picnic areas.

Clayton Lake State Park and Dinosaur Trackways is at 141 Clayton Lake Rd, Clayton, NM 88415.

2- Elephant Butte Lake State Park

Butte and river
Elephant Butte State Park is one of the state parks in New Mexico to visit.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park is close to the White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico.

Though the state park and national park are still two hours’ drive from one another it is a good idea to visit both in the same trip.

There are 173 campsites at the park so plenty of space to pitch your tent or RV.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park is for all the water enthusiasts out there.

There’s a sizable beach for relaxing and when the temperature gets too hot you can jump into the lake for a refreshing swim.

All sorts of boats are allowed on the lake, from sailing to water skiing, canoeing to kayaking there’s so much fun to be had.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park is at 101 NM-195, Elephant Butte, NM 87935.

3- Leasburg Dam State Park

Another state park close to Elephant Butte and White Sands is Leasburg Dam.

This park offers another water oasis among the arid New Mexico landscape.

This park on the Rio Grande has a wonderful cactus garden, 2.25 miles of hiking trails and plenty of chances for fishing, kayaking and canoeing.

You can also go swimming at the north day use area and fishing at the south day use area.

If you love stargazing and space then this is a wonderful park.

There’s an excellent night sky program where you can head to the observatory to learn more about the solar system.

Both kids and adults love this park activity.

Leasburg Dam State Park is at 12712 State Park Rd, Radium Springs, NM 88054.

4- Percha Dam State Park

Percha Dam State Park is close to Timber Mountain in southern New Mexico, again fairly close to the White Sands National Park.

If you want to escape the crowds of Elephant Butte State Park then Percha Dam is a lovely place to visit.

This quieter spot has three miles of hiking and interpretive trails with some welcome shade in the form of tall Cottonwood trees.

You can go fishing at the dam and be sure to bring your binoculars as there is excellent bird watching.

There is also a small 29 pitch campsite if you are searching for somewhere to camp that is a little quieter.

Percha Dam State Park is at Arrey, NM 87930.

5- Cimarron Canyon State Park

red rock cliff face
Check out Cimarron Canyon state park in New Mexico.

This New Mexico park is in the northern part of the state around 15 minutes’ drive from Eagle Nest.

This is a really picturesque state park, where the Cimarron River flows through a forest canyon creating something from a fairy tale.

Keen anglers love fly fishing on the river and you can be in with a chance of catching cutbows, rainbow trout, brookies and browns.

If you are searching for something a bit more active than fishing how about hitting the hiking and horse-riding trails.

There are a number in the park and it is an excellent way to try and spot wildlife.

If you want to stay in this tranquil spot for a few days then you can utilize the four campgrounds and 94 campsites in the park.

Cimarron Canyon State Park is at 28869 US-64, Eagle Nest, NM 87718.

6- Morphy Lake State Park

Morphy Lake State Park is just under two hours’ drive from Santa Fe in northern New Mexico.

The park sits in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at 8,000 feet.

One of the best things about this park is the hidden lake at the edge of the Pecos Wilderness.

Fishing enthusiasts come from all over to fish the excellent waters of Morphy Lake.

The lake is well stocked with rainbow trout.

As well as fishing you will find a fair few canoeists and kayakers exploring the water.

Having tired yourself out on the water you can head to the picnic sites for a relaxing lunch break.

Morphy Lake State Park is at Murphy Lake Rd, Mora, NM 87732.

7- Navajo Lake State Park

Navajo Lake State Park is in northwestern New Mexico.

This park is well known for its excellent boating and water activities and is therefore a popular spot for New Mexican’s and out of staters.

Those with motorboats launch their boats on the water.

You can expect to see water skiers zipping around the water either flailing or flipping.

The San Juan River is a wonderful fly-fishing spot.

You can walk along the 4.4 miles of hiking trails, one of the best of which follows the river.

The park has seven campgrounds including 244 campsites.

Navajo Lake State Park is at 1448 NM-511 #1, Navajo Dam, NM 87419.

8- Rio Grande Nature State Park

Rio Grande State Park gorge and river
One of the famous New Mexico State Parks is the Rio Grande State Park.

On the banks of the Rio Grande River the Rio Grande Nature State Park is just 10 minutes’ drive north of Albuquerque’s downtown.

If you love wildlife and the outdoors then you will love this park.

There are both indoor and outdoor wildlife viewing spots.

These areas overlook native plant gardens, ponds and a pollinator garden.

When you first arrive at the park you should check out the visitor centre.

Here you can learn lots about the local wildlife and plant species that you can expect to find in the park.

Rio Grande Nature State Park is at 2901 Candelaria Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107.

9- Caballo Lake State Park

Caballo Lake State Park is another of the best state parks in New Mexico.

Caballo Lake State Park is just a 25-minute drive south of Elephant Butte Lake State Park.

The lake is surrounded by lovely views of the Caballo Mountains and the best thing to do at this state park is to hit the water.

Water recreational activities include canoeing, sailing, swimming, kayaking and fishing.

There is also a 170-pitch campsite if you are wanting to stay overnight and explore some of the other nearby parks and attractions.

Caballo Lake State Park is at New Mexico 87931.

10- Sumner Lake State Park

On the southwestern banks of Lake Sumner is the state park by the same name.

The park is around 160 miles east of Albuquerque.

On a sunny, clear blue-sky day, Sumner Lake State Park is serenely beautiful.

The park is surrounded by grassy plains creating a refreshing and green landscape among much of New Mexico arid surroundings.

There are two miles of trails, including mountain biking and interpretive trails.

You can go boating, water skiing and sailing as well as bringing your motorized and non-motorized boats.

Sumner Lake State Park is at 32 Lake View Dr, Lake Sumner, NM 88119.

11- Bottomless Lakes State Park

aerial view of the lake
Another of the state parks in New Mexico to explore is Bottomless Lakes State Park.

Bottomless Lakes State Park is in southeastern New Mexico around 150 miles from the White Sands National Park.

The park has nine sinkhole-formed lakes which are also known as cenotes.

Today these geological formations are the site of much fun in the park.

The sinkholes range from 17 to 90 feet deep.

As a result, this has become one of the best places in the state to go scuba diving! Who would have thought that landlocked New Mexico was an excellent scuba diving spot?

As well as scuba diving you can enjoy non-motorized boating, canoeing, kayaking and boarding.

There is also fishing between November and March.

For views of the area you can walk the four plus miles of hiking trails.

Bottomless Lakes State Park is at 545A Bottomless Lakes Rd, Roswell, NM 88201.

12- Oasis State Park

Oasis State Park is in eastern New Mexico.

When looking at the surrounding landscape you can surely see where the park gets its name.

The landscape at Oasis State Park consists of cottonwood trees, ever-changing sand dunes and a small oasis in the form of a fishing lake.

Most people head to the park to fish but there are also some hiking trails as well as a small campground.

Oasis State Park is at 1891 Base Line, Portales, NM 88130.

13- City of Rocks State Park

view across the rocks on a blue-sky day
A rocky view at City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico.

City of Rocks State Park is in southwest New Mexico close to the Gila National Forest.

The city of rocks is named because of the unique volcanic rock formations.

The rock columns and pinnacles rise up to 40 feet high and the pathways weaving in-between them look like roads.

The park offers camping, 5.5 miles of hiking trails, a desert botanical garden, wildlife viewing and stargazing.

Be sure to head to the visitor centre to learn more about the area.

City of Rocks State Park is at 327 NM-61, Faywood, NM 88034.

14- Oliver Lee Memorial State Park

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park is between White Sands National Park and the Lincoln National Forest and around 20 minutes’ drive outside of Alamogordo.

The park preserves a beautiful canyon in the Sacramention Mountains as well as the 19th century Oliver Lee ranch house.

This 640-acre park in Otero County is well worth a visit.

Activities on offer at the park include trails, wildlife viewing, tours of the Oliver Lee Ranch House, educational programs, camping and picnicking.

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park is at 409 Dog Canyon Rd, Alamogordo, NM 88310.

15- Storrie Lake State Park

Storrie Lake State Park is in Las Vegas (not world-famous Nevada Las Vegas but New Mexico’s much smaller city!)

This state park is only around an hour and 15 minutes outside of Santa Fe.

If you are a fan of windsurfing or want to try it for the first time, it’s well worth making a visit to Storrie Lake State Park.

It is also a lovely spot for fishing and plenty of birds are attracted to the oasis of water.

In addition, there’s volleyball, swimming and plenty of picnic spots to enjoy with the family.

Storrie Lake State Park is at 3 Esequiel C De Baca LN, Las Vegas, NM 87701.

16- Hyde Memorial State Park

Hyde Memorial State Park is an excellent place to spend some time if you are visiting one of New Mexico’s biggest cities.

The park is just a 15-minute drive from downtown Santa Fe and its 4.2 miles of trails are reason enough to visit.

From the West Circle Trail to the Piggyback Trail these pathways lead you through some beautiful forest landscape with a number of vistas.

Have you ever fancied staying in a yurt? Well, Hyde Memorial State Park is an excellent place to try.

There are three yurts in the park, each sleeping six people.

They are newly built and modern yet traditional at the same time.

Nestled among the ponderosa pine mountain forest it’s the perfect place to

Hyde Memorial State Park is at 740 Hyde Park Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87501.

17- Fenton Lake State Park

Fenton Lake State Park is a quiet little waterfront spot around 1 hour 35 minutes’ drive northwest of Santa Fe.

Fenton Lake State Park is blessed with the Jemez Mountains as a backdrop.

No matter what time of year you visit Fenton Lake State Park it just seems to impress.

In summer you can fish and canoe on the lake and enjoy the hiking trails.

You can find rainbow trout from autumn to spring on the Rio Cebolla and the lake is stocked with German brown trout.

For winter strap on the skies for a spot of cross-country skiing.

Fenton Lake State Park is at 87025 New Mexico.

18- Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park

two deer one sitting and one standing
See wildlife at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park New Mexico.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park is just outside of Carlsbad in Eddy County, in the southeast part of New Mexico.

This wildlife zoo showcases 40 local animal species and hundreds of plant species that are all native to the Chihuahuan Desert.

This state park is fun for the whole family.

There are nature interpretive programs for all ages and whether you are passionate about local wildlife or are young and excited to see native wolves then this place is great.

You should also check out the “Succulents of the World” greenhouse which is in the park.

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park is at 1504 Skyline Rd, Carlsbad, NM 88220.

19- Manzano Mountains State Park

Manzano Mountains State Park is around 1 hour 20 minutes’ drive south of Albuquerque so it’s ideal for a day trip or weekend getaway.

If you are searching for a peaceful family getaway this is a fab park to visit.

Set in the forested foothills of the Manzanos mountains this park is all about wildlife, birding, nature and photography.

There are 3.5 miles of hiking and interpretive trails too.

If you are searching for somewhere to stay, overnight try their 23 development campsites.

Manzano Mountains State Park is at Co Rd B062, Mountainair, NM 87036.

20- Cerrillos Hills State Park

trees and shrubs in Cerrillos Hills
Cerrillos Hills State Park in New Mexico.

Cerrillos Hills State Park is a 40 minute drive southwest of Santa Fe.

This year round, day use park can be found off the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway.

The Cerrillos Hills State Park showcases the 1,100 years of mining history in the area.

Cerrillos Turquoise is considered to be fairly rare today.

Back in the 1800s Cochiti Pueblo Indians started heading into the Cerrillos Hills to mine.

The park also displays some lovely views of the Ortiz, Jemez, Sandia and Sangre de Cristo Mountain ranges.

Cerrillos Hills State Park is at Co Rd 59, Los Cerrillos, NM 87010.

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!