Navajo Lake State Park
Guide

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Introduction

An oasis of sorts in the desert, Navajo Lake State Park is a great place to play for those who are ready for some adventure, as well as a peaceful place to relax for anyone looking to recharge. Offering 150 miles of shoreline and excellent scenery, the sun is shining at the park an average of 280 days a year. Located 40 miles east of Farmington in northwest New Mexico, the 15,600 acre lake is the second largest in the state and the park is home to camping, boating, hiking, mountain biking and fishing opportunities. The park is popular, but frequently uncrowded, which makes it possible to “play” while having the opportunity for some peace and quiet.

The lake is surrounded by hills and mesas and visitors can encounter a variety of wild flowers and cacti, as well as juniper, pinon, mesquite and yucca. The terrain of the park attracts a variety of creatures; you may catch a glimpse of a bald eagle taking flight in the winter or lizards taking in some rays in the summer. Roaming the area surrounding the lake are antelope, elk and mule deer and there are even some mountain lions and bears in the surrounding hills.

Upon parking your camper at Navajo Lake State Park, you will be ready to explore, whether by boat or by foot. The park offers two marinas, with all sorts of boats found traversing the lake, including motorboats, kayaks, canoes and sailboats. Fishing in the lake is popular and the San Juan river flowing from the base of the dam includes a world famous stretch for trout fishing. Multiple hiking trails allow you to explore the park from a different perspective. Open year-round, you can enjoy Navajo Lake State Park in all four seasons.

RV Rentals in Navajo Lake State Park

Transportation in Navajo Lake State Park

Driving

Navajo Lake State Park is located off of NM Highway 511, about 50 miles from Durango, CO, 40 miles from Farmington, NM and 18 miles from the cities of Aztec and Bloomfield in New Mexico. Much of the park can be accessed from NM Highway 511, which is a paved road, ensuring that it is easy to explore the park from your RV or passenger vehicle. Well-maintained dirt roads can be easily driven on in the Cottonwood Campground and Bolak Day Use areas.

Parking

You can park your RV or trailer throughout the park, allowing for quick access to all that you may choose to see and do. The park includes seven campgrounds and offers sites (both reservable and walk-up) where you can park your RV or trailer for the night.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Navajo Lake State Park

Campsites in Navajo Lake State Park

Reservations camping

Sims Mesa

Camp less than 500 feet from the lake while being within walking distance of bathrooms and showers. Choose from electric and non-electric sites as well as primitive beach camping. RV lengths vary per site.

Pine Main

Just 0.3 miles from the lake, camping at the Pine Main Campground offers easy access to showers as well as recreation activities. Full hook-up, electric, non-electric and primitive sites are available. RV lengths vary per site.

Pine Cedar

Located just a half mile from the lake, Pine Cedar offers electric and nonelectric sites. Enjoy easy access to bathrooms and showers from this campground. RV lengths vary per site.

Cottonwood Campground

Navajo Lake State Park offers seven different campgrounds with 90 sites available for advance reservation along with additional sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Developed campsites include 41 with electric (30 amp), 45 with water and electric (30 amp), 11 with water and electric (50 amp) and eight sites with full hook-up, including sewer and electric (30 amp). Water is available at each campground and RV Dump Stations are available within the park. Each campsite accommodates up to seven people and dogs are welcome to join the fun. Campsites include a grill/fire ring as well as a picnic table, often with a shelter. Many sites offer a place to pitch a tent as well, in case you want to spend the night outdoors. Generators can be used except during quiet hours (between 10pm and 7am). Restrooms are available at each campground and shower facilities are available within the park. Group and ADA compliant sites are also available.

Primitive camping is also an option when visiting Navajo Lake State Park where you have the opportunity to camp on the beach. You can camp for 14 days within a 20 day period in the park.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Navajo Lake State Park

In-Season

Swimming

During warmer weather you can take a dip in the lake to cool off and take a spin on a jet ski. Scuba Diving is allowed as well with divers looking for treasures like fishing poles, lost sunglasses and anchors, as well as for the remains of two old New Mexico towns, Rosa and Los Arboles. Visibility varies and can be anywhere from 0 to 20 feet.

Fishing

Popular year-round, you can spend time fishing by boat, from the shoreline and the park’s marinas. Species found in the lake include rainbow and brown trout, crappie,, large and smallmouth bass, bluegill and catfish. A four mile section of the San Juan River located at the base of Navajo Dam offers world-class trout fishing. These special catch & release waters (known as Quality Waters) attracts anglers worldwide, with the average trout measured at more than 17 inches! Water conditions are excellent for fishing year-round.

Boating

Boating is a popular activity at Navajo Lake State Park and its large size means that boats of all sizes can be accommodated. All sorts of watercraft, from motorboats, sailboats, houseboats and pontoon boats to kayaks and canoes can be found throughout the lake. Don’t have your own vessel? Not a problem; Navajo Lake Marina has a variety of rental options, including paddle boards, Hydro Bikes and Aqua Cycles, allowing you to have fun and explore the lake in any way that you desire. Rentals are available by the hour, half day or day; you can even rent a tube and tow harness for a little extra adventure!

Off-Season

Visitor Center

When the weather is not the best for outdoor adventures, you can check out one or both visitors centers at the Navajo Reservoir in New Mexico. There, you can learn through interpretive displays about the construction of the dam and reservoir, as well as about the natural and local history of the area. Spending time at the visitor center is a great way to gain insight on the culture of the area in the past as well as in the present.

Explore a Navajo Ruin

Just below the Navajo Dam is the Simon Canyon trail, which is a nearly two mile out and back trail that will allow you to view a small ruins site from the 1700’s that was thought to be vulnerable and thus was abandoned. Located about one and a half miles from the Navajo Dam, this ruin is an example of the small defensive structures (called pueblitos) that were built on large boulders by the Navajo people. The ruin sits on a boulder that is 20 feet high and overlooks Simon Canyon.

Hiking

Since shade can be limited in much of the park, you may find hiking more enjoyable during the cooler months. When it comes to hiking, there are plenty of options to check out. The North San Juan River Trail, for example, can be found on the north side of the river and is 1.32 one and a half miles long. Enjoy a scenic walk through cottonwood and willow trees as you view rocky cliffs. The two mile South San Juan River trail travels from the Crusher Hole Day Use Area to the Lower Flats Day Use Area and includes an extension to the Texas Hole Day Use Area. Enjoy views of the river while keeping your eyes out for wildlife! A recently rehabilitated trail, the BOR Trail, offers access from the BOR Day Use Area to the San Juan River’s popular fly fishing areas.

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