By Susan Brown
The latest in water sport trends takes you a bit above the water—offering a new perspective of scenic natural spaces and shimmering waters. Stand-up paddle-boarding requires a board, a paddle, a lifejacket, some good balance, and an un-derstanding of the basic technique. In New Mexico, you’ll find some of the most naturally stunning places in the U.S. Navigate local lakes and rivers and see New Mexico from a new angle. Here are five great paddleboarding spots in the state.
If you’re looking to connect with nature in a unique way, then paddleboarding is a captivating choice and this is an appealing spot to do just that. It has 3,500 acres of tranquil water that is a comfortable temperature most of the year. Paddle up the Pecos River canyon for some breathtaking scenery of granite crags, a little birding, and peaceful contemplation. At four miles long, this relatively uncrowded reservoir is a great place to practice your paddleboarding technique. It’s also only about 30 to 40 feet deep. Jump in for a refreshing swim.
Surrounded by the colorful rock formations of the local red sandstone, this lovely lake sits between the rugged Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountain ranges in the northern part of the state. Get out on the water where you’ll see panoramic views of the nearby Cerro Pedernal peak, imposing mesas, piñon pines, and ju-nipers. This is a bring-your-own equipment destination. But with more than 5,000 acres to explore you can make a day or a weekend of it.
This dam was created as a diversion system to regulate water management of the Rio Grande. Because of that, there’s a sweet little oasis right outside of town that’s a haven for water lovers. From March through October, the park is a place to gracefully stand up and direct your gaze outward to the beauty of the surrounding area, complete with migrating birds and desert flora and fauna. This meditative exercise is a soothing relief from the daily routine. If you stay well into the evening, the night sky lights up with stars twinkling in reflection on the calm water.
Nesting bald and golden eagles, our majestic national symbol, are well-known and beloved residents of this slender lake set at the base of the Caballo Mountains. The prickly desert beauty is all around, as well as a 96-foot-tall earthen dam holding the Rio Grande River at bay. Because it’s slightly remote, this park doesn’t draw the numbers of visitors as some of the other lakes, so it’s a low-key spot to get on a board for a great cardio workout that doubles as an absolute stress reliever. At ca-pacity, it’s 11,500 total acres—plenty of wide open water to explore.
This, the state’s first park, is really a series of nine deep lakes along a limestone slope in the Pecos River Valley. The dark blue water of these almost perfectly circular lakes is created by aquatic plants and is in stark contrast to the muted tones of the surrounding desert. Only one of the nine, Lea Lake, is open for water activities, but it’s a definitive summertime swimming hole. A day of paddling around the lake is a low impact workout that’s just plain fun. It’s hot and there’s little shade, go prepared.