By Karl Terry: Freedom Newspapers
Conchas Lake State Park has been a popular daytrip or weekend camping destination for eastern New Mexico residents for more than 50 years. That same charm of a large body of water in the desert landscape attracts visitors still today.
The lake was formed when the Canadian River was dammed as a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project ending in 1939. It was the 17th project built by the Army Corps of Engineers and the dam is operated by that agency today, according to the recreation.gov Web site
The New Mexico State Parks Division operates campgrounds and recreation facilities at the lake.
What Size Is The Lake
According to the NMSPD the lake covers 9,600 square acres at an elevation of 4,200 feet and is one of the largest lakes in the state. The lake is 25 miles long and has approximately 60 miles of shoreline. The park has 200 campsites with 105 developed campsites and 40 electric campsites as well as several day-use areas for picniking. Water depth varies from a few feet to as much as 85 feet at the dam depending on water level.
What Activities are Available?
Among the activities available at the park are: fishing, camping, skiing, sailing, boating and jet-skiing, picnicking, wildlife viewing, children’s playgrounds and hiking.
What’s the Fishing Like?
The lake provides warm water fishery habitat and species found at the lake include walleye, largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill and crappie as well as other species. Boat ramps and a fully equipped marina are available for boaters and also provide bait and tackle. The lake is regularly stocked by New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The best time to catch walleye and crappie is spring and fall. With fishing for other species not as specific to the season.
to Look for
The area has a variety of fossils and primitive rock art (petroglyphs). Also visit the Corps of Engineers Park overlooking the dam for great views of the dam and the lake as well as for a cool picnic spot.
How to Get There
From Clovis, take N.M. 209 north 85 miles to Tucumcari. Stay on First Street through Tucumcari and the highway becomes N.M. 104. Take N.M. 104 North to 34 miles to Conchas Lake State Park.
New Mexico State Parks fees apply. Day-use is $5 per vehicle, campsites are $8 for a primitive site, $10 for a developed site. Add $4 for electric and $4 for sewer hookup. New Mexico State Park annual permits are honored.
For More Information
Call the state park visitor center at 868-2270. You can make camping reservations online and get more information at www.nmparks.com or by calling 1-877-NM-4-RSVP.