Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Elephant Butte

I don't know how many times I've driven I 25 in southern New Mexico and passed right by Elephant Butte Lake.  This time we decided to stop and spend a couple of days there in the state park.  New Mexico might have the least expensive state parks in the country.  If you want to spend a summer there, the state parks have an annual pass for $225 that allows unlimited camping (without hookups.)  But if you are just passing through, camping is $8 for primitive (find a spot in designated areas,) $10 for improved (flat, graveled spot with table and grill,) and $14 for hookups.  We were going to go for a primitive site at Elephant Butte Lake, but those were along the lake shore and the lady at the entrance said we could get stuck in the sand.  So we moved up to improved and got a nice one on a bluff.

Here's our view out the front window.  (It would be even prettier if the lake wasn't down.)

And out the side window.

Elephant Butte Dam was completed in 1916, well before the better known dams, and at the time of completion was the largest irrigation reservoir.  It controls the water flow of the Rio Grande which begins in southwestern Colorado, flows south down the middle of New Mexico, and forms the famous border between Texas and Mexico.

We took a walk along the river below the dam.  According to the signage, the summer flow is up to 20,000 gallons per second to supply irrigation water downstream.  With the water level as low as it is, I would think that would drain the lake pretty quickly.  But what do I know?  I do tend to be a skeptic.  I know the river wasn't flowing much the day we were there.

That's why I like flowers - they are what they are.

But I know what you are all wondering.  Why is the lake called Elephant Butte?  Here's the answer.

If you're like me and don't see it, let me help.  According to whoever named it, this volcanic core looks like an elephant head in profile.  His ear is to the left and trunk goes down towards the right.

I think somebody has a heck of an imagination.


  1. No kidding. I still can't see it but I still enjoy the scenery. I like that harsh country even during the dry times. Thanks for blogging for us and happy trails.

  2. I've never been able to see it either. I can't believe how low the lake is. I thought it was low when we were there a couple of years ago but it's a whole lot worse now. Truth or Consequences is a great little town. We loved it.

  3. I don't see it, either. It looks to me more like Elvis in profile... ;c)

  4. Now that you explain it ... I can see the resemblance ... but it sure is a faint one. Lovely campground. We hope to go to NM next year, so I'll keep this for future reference.

  5. Seems you are always just a day of two ahead of me. I will be at Elephant Butte tomorrow -- Thursday.

  6. Pretty place, but that's an elephant? No way!

  7. I kinda almost see it but not clearly..lol IT sure is a nice spot to spend a few days!!!