Location: Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Elephant Butte, New Mexico
A screen shot from gmaps.
Google Maps directions says it takes 2 hours 23 minutes to get there on SH 70 and Interstate 25. It’s one of the disadvantages of the living around mountains. If we could drive a straight line it would be a mere 50 miles. Because of the big U we have to drive, it ends up being 155 miles.
Before us was our next big test for our 1500 Chevy truck. On SH70, Las Cruces is immediately on the other side of a mountain pass. 1600 feet increase in altitude over 3. 61 miles. The highway department has planned for the slower vehicles. The outside lane up is for 18-wheelers and small engine vehicles which drag up the hill. Middle lane is for something between turtles and hares. The inside lane was for the well-powered engines which zipped right past us.
We plant ourselves in the middle lane and move at a sorta respectable 45 in manual mode and keeping the rpms between 2-3000. We monitored the transmission temperature. Were very happy to see it not pass 187. On the down side we sloooowed it thanks to electronic brakes. Yes, we are getting this pulling thing down.
Traveled a pokey 55 mph on the interstate. We chose to get off the interstate at Radium Springs and meander along a two lane road through the farming areas. We saw hatch chiles still on the bush, 10″ tall onions, alfalfa, remnants of cotton on the ground, and something that had us discussing whether it was wheat. A little research when I got home shows organic, spring, hard red wheat is grown in the area. One local business even grinds it with stone-burr mills to preserve vitamins and enzymes.
Passing through Hatch reminded me that many of my friends rave about the green chile cheeseburger at Sparky’s. So do a lot a folks on tripadvisor. When speaking to Josie, the co-owner, realize you are talking to one of the best fly fisherwomen around. She can tempt trout to strike in a glass of muddy water.
At a wide pullover we stopped on the side of the road for the dogs to potty. Not gonna happen. We should just quit stopping for them. We got to Elephant Butte Lake State Park in three hours. The huge entrance is a bit confusing. Because Margo paid online, we thought we could meander on by through the right side pass lane. Nope. Stop and get a little piece of paper that is to be taped inside the window and another for the trailer. The attendant was very pleasant and gave Margo a map with the route to our spot marked in highlighter.
We get to our spot, one of the best views of the lake. If you want such a site and use 30 amp, pay for Lion’s Beach Campground, Loop C. The site was impeccably clean. Even raked. Margo decides to back the trailer in. She does fine. We unhook because we will be there for three nights, and we will be driving around. We meet the reason for such camp neatness–the loop host. She lives in the first site and maintains the other 9.
We can see a long, long way. The beautiful, blue lake is before us. Yes, it’s low. I didn’t realize how low it was from it’s one time high until we passed houses with retaining walls a hundred yards from the water. Here’s a graph which shows just how much it has fluctuated.
You can boondock along the water’s edge and a couple of rigs are set up close enough to drop a line out the door.
We walk down to the water along a maintained road. Sand. Lots of sand. It’s deceiving. The sand looks hard, but stay on the roads or be very mindful of conditions if you don’t want to get stuck. Don’t think you won’t get stuck on the road either. There’s lots of evidence of sinking wheels and we heard revving engines on occasion. I will point out I knew a fella who bought an old army truck so he could make money pulling rvs and such out after they buried to the axles.
Nobody around for a hundred yards either way. We let the dogs off the leashes. Finally, they pee like they haven’t gone for a week. There is a pattern developing. They won’t pee on leash? They throw themselves into the water like happy children. It’s very shallow. Darn, forgot doggy towels. Didn’t bother them any. Run, run, run.
We leash them and walk them back up. Bout a hundred feet in altitude. I find an old shirt and dry each dog. I must remember to take a dog brush too. Dogs on tethers, we sip toddies and relax under the covered picnic area. Make plans for the next day. Have a late lunch. Before we know it, it’s 3 p.m. and Margo gets into the best position to watch the rigs come in. I think it might be her favorite part of camping. We stay out until dark.
It’s wonderfully quiet here. No barking dogs. No yelling people. No loud music. Stars are intense.
We read until it’s time for bed.