Ute Lake State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Located on one of the longest rivers in New Mexico, Ute State Park is a scenic destination for RV campers looking for aquatic adventures. You’ll find acre after acre of beautiful waters to explore on the Ute Lake and Canadian River. Motorized boats are allowed, so you can water ski and jet ski, in addition to kayaking, canoeing, and sailing.

There’s also plenty to keep you busy once you step out of the water. The park boasts a network of hiking trails that lead you around the Canadian River and Ute Lake. You can also hike up to lookouts that give you beautiful panoramic views of the lake and canyons. And you’ll find dozens of species of birds in the park, making it a great place to observe the wide variety of New Mexico’s bird life.

The RV campsite within the park has 40 sites for you to choose from, and can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet long. All of the sites have electrical hookups for your campervan, so you can camp with full modern amenities. Ute Lake State Park makes a great choice for RV campers looking for a summertime camping destination.

RV Rentals in Ute Lake State Park

Transportation in Ute Lake State Park

Driving

Ute Lake State Park is located in northeastern New Mexico, and is within driving distance of multiple major cities in the region. Once you arrive at the park, the campgrounds are easy to reach, and there are few curvy roads that will bother drivers of large RVs.

If you are driving from Santa Fe, take I-40 east from the city and you will be able to reach the park in around three hours. If you are coming from Denver, take I-25 south out of the city and you will reach the park in a little less than six hours.

At the park, you’ll find few winding roads, and you can access the campground quickly from the park’s main entrance. If you are visiting the park during the winter, you should be prepared for some icy roads, as temperatures can drop. Plan on bringing snow chains if there is a winter storm forecasted during your visit.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Ute Lake State Park

Campsites in Ute Lake State Park

Reservations camping

RV Camping at Ute Lake State Park

There is a campground located within Ute Lake State Park with 40 RV campsites to choose from. The sites all feature electrical hookups. All of the sites are dog friendly, and most of them are located on or near the water. And there’s a grill and picnic table at each site.

You’ll have toilets, showers, and dump stations near every campsite. And there are grills and picnic areas within walking distance as well. The marina and beach area are close to the campground, and you’ll also be able to access the park’s hiking trails.

The campground is open year round, and you can book the sites up to six months in advance. And you’ll have to book your site at least a day before you arrive. If you are planning on visiting during peak season during the summer, you should book as early as possible, as the RV sites do fill up quite quickly.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First-Served

A certain number of campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Ute Lake State Park

In-Season

Boating

Ute Lake State Park is most popular for its boating. Motorized boats are allowed at the park, so you can enjoy water and jet skiing. And the Canadian River is a great destination for kayaking and canoeing.

The park has a marina and community dock, if you want to keep your boat on the water. And the boat launch is large enough for bigger vessels, so you shouldn’t have any issues getting your boat from the rig to the water.

Fishing

In addition to all of the water sports, you’ll also find great fishing at Ute Lake and the Canadian River. The area is known for its catfish, walleye, and white bass fishing, and you’ll find a wide variety of other fish species as well.

There is also a boat launch, so you can get your vessel onto the water easily from your rig.

You can fish throughout the year, although visitors to the park prefer the period running from April through September.

Swimming

The park is also a great place for those looking for a summer time swimming destination. You can swim at both Ute Lake and in the Canadian River. And there is a beach area on Ute Lake where you can rest and relax on hot days. There are also picnic areas near the beach, in case you want to have some food before or after your swim.

The beach does get busy during the summer, so you should try to get there early in the day to save a spot.

Off-Season

Hiking

Visitors to Ute State Park will also find a network of hiking trails. The trails lead through desert, as well as the arroyos and the canyon that divides the park. And they can be accessed from nearby the main campground, making it easy to get from your RV to the trail.

You can also branch off the trails to hike up to benches that overlook the park’s canyons and Ute Lake.

The hiking is great year round, but will get quite hot during the summer months. Many hikers prefer to visit during spring and fall, when the temperatures are much milder.

Birdwatching

You’ll also find some of the best birdwatching in the area when you visit Ute State Park. The shores of Ute Lake and the Canadian River draw in a wide range of bird species, and the lookouts above the park make for great areas to spot the park’s wildlife.

You’ll find birds in the park no matter when you visit. However, the greatest variety of birds will be found in spring and fall, when you can catch the birds as they migrate.

And check with local birdwatching societies if you want more information on the birds in the area. Many of them produce field guides and bird checklists.

Horseback Riding

If you want to bring a horse along, you can also enjoy the park on horseback. The Mine Canyon and Rogers Camp areas are open to horseback riding year round. Both are great places for exploring New Mexico’s animal and plant life. And the canyons make for challenging and exciting rides. There are no dedicated equestrian facilities, so you won’t be able to stable your horse at the park.

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