New Mexico tends to get overlooked when it comes to camping trips. RVers tend to gravitate toward the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, or Arches and Zion in Utah, but what about New Mexico? This part of the four corner states has its own wonders such as White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park. One of the many treasures of New Mexico is a desert oasis located in the Northwest corridor of the state—Navajo Lake and the San Juan River.
How to get there?
To get to this part of New Mexico, you really have to make the trip there, as it’s not relatively close to any major highways. The closest major city to this spot would be Santa Fe which would be a 3.5 hour drive, then Denver, which is approximately 6.5 hours away. No matter what direction you’re coming from, just keep thinking: the journey is just as beautiful as the destination. From Denver, you’ll pass over Wolf Creek Pass and drive through Poncha Springs.
Where to camp?
The immediate and surrounding area of Navajo Lake in New Mexico is almost exclusively catered to camping, fishing, and other lake activities. There are several spots to camp that can accommodate an RV. In Navajo Lake State Park itself, there are seven established campgrounds with 244 camping spots. Only limited spots have full hookups, but most have electric and water hookups too.
What to do?
There is a surprising amount of activities to do in this isolated spot in New Mexico—starting with the massive Navajo Lake. Navajo Lake, which is fed by the San Juan River, is the second largest lake in New Mexico and it’s always bustling with different types of water activities. There are two large marinas at this lake, including Sims Marina and Marina at Pine. At either Marina, you can rent houseboats, boats, kayaks, jet skis, bumper boats, hydrobikes, and much more. Navajo Lake also has some established beaches where friends and family can wade in the water, swim, and cool off on hot desert days.
The San Juan River is the place to be for any fisherman and there are several fishing holes to practice the art of fly fishing. There are also guided fishing tours available that float down this slow, beautiful river. Just be sure to get your New Mexico fishing license before heading out. For the hike and mountain bike crowd, there is a network of trails to explore around the lake.
When is the best time to go?
Most of the activities are best to experience during the warmer months of the year, however it can get quite hot in the summer. Although there are several spots in the lake and river to cool off, there isn’t much shade available for non-water activities. The best recommendation would be to visit during the more mild months of the year, from late spring to very early fall.
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