Whenever I think about a beach trip, I usually think about an escape to the Gulf Coast of Texas. But did you know there are actually some great sandy beaches in New Mexico you can enjoy that are so much closer to home?
Yes, these are New Mexico lake beaches, but what’s more Americana than a lake vacation? Here are the best New Mexico beaches perfect for a day trip, weekend getaway, or even a full week beach vacation!
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How to Get to New Mexico’s Beaches
Well, if you’re a New Mexico local then you probably already know that getting around the state is really tough without a car. Since you really need your own vehicle to make visiting most of these beaches work, I have tips below for renting a car if you don’t have one.
The good news is that most of these are easy day trips from many parts of New Mexico, so hopefully, you can find one or two New Mexico beaches that pique your interest. However, if you do decide to stay nearby, all of these would make excellent New Meico weekend getaways.
Tips for Renting a Car in New Mexico
It’s awfully hard to get around New Mexico without a car. Trust me, I’ve tried! Typically, I drive to New Mexico from Oklahoma, but when I don’t have access to my own wheels I use Discover Cars to rent cars on my travels. You’ll be able to pick up a car at any airport or in your hometown.
Check availability and get a quote for a rental car for your trip here.
The Best Beaches in New Mexico
In no particular order…
Lions Beach at Elephant Butte Reservoir
Being the largest lake in New Mexico, Elephant Butte Reservoir is the ideal place for water activities. The reservoir can hold up to 2,065,010 acres of water. This vast amount of water provides for a grand fishing, boating, and beach experience. Along the shoreline, the reservoir has sandy beaches, giving it a great place to bring children to play in the soft sand.
Due to the lake’s large size, the reservoir can accommodate many different styles and sizes of watercraft, such as sailboats, ski boats, pontoons, jet skis, kayaks, and houseboats.
Abiquiu Lake Swim Beach
If you are in New Mexico and are searching for the prime place to fish, then Abiquiu Lake is for you. In addition to this, there has been fossils found that are 200 million years old in this area.
The Abiquiu Dam holds water from the Rio Chama. It has a wonderful view of Cerro Pedernal, with beautiful colored rock formations, as can be seen from the dam. It also is surrounded by recreational areas and campgrounds.
Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area Swim Area
The Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area is along the Pecos River, stretching 125.6 acres along with the upper channel dam, all the way to the south railroad bridge. There are many things to do at this lake, such as swimming, playgrounds, fishing, picnics, water sports, and boating.
There are several shaded areas for picnicking available, which also include tables and grills for your convenience. Between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, there is a public area open for swimming.
The Beach at Lea Lake
Among the Bottomless Lakes, Lea Lakes is the only one where swimming is permitted. It is very popular in the summer due to its beach and concession area. It’s 90 ft deep and 15 acres long. The view of the lake is breathtaking with its shimmering water.
The lake also has a campground nearby that has restrooms, showers, a dump station, and other accommodations to make your stay as convenient as possible.
The Beaches at Conchas Lake
Conchas Lake has exciting features such as canyons, hidden coves, sandy beaches, boating, fishing, and camping. It is one of New Mexico’s largest lakes, and you can venture through the 11 miles of the Conchas Lake as well as 14 miles of the South Canadian river section of the lake. Since there are miles of shoreline, there is a lot of hiking and bird-watching as well. Fishermen will enjoy twenty-eight different species of fish.
The Beaches at Cochiti Lake
Cochiti Lake gets its name from the Indian Pueblo that lies on the Cochiti Reservation. There are two recreational sites by the lake. On the west side, there is Cochiti, and Tetilla Peak is on the east. You can see wonderful views of the surrounding mountains and the lake from both sides. The lake also has one of the largest dams globally and one of the USA’s top ten alone.
The Beaches at the Bottomless Lakes
The Bottomless Lakes contain at least eight scenic lakes. The various lakes range from 17 to 90 feet deep. While it’s not technically a lake, it is a sinkhole whose aquatic plants give it a greenish-blue color and create the illusion of great depth.
While most of the Lakes do not permit swimming, you can kayak or canoe, fish, hike, picnic, bird watch, camp, or scuba dive. Most of the lakes are surrounded by stunning cliffs, which gives an enthralling atmosphere.
Tingley Beach at Albuquerque Biological Park
Tingley Beach is open to free fishing for those with a New Mexico fishing license. Grilling is permitted outside of the fire season. There are no reservations or tickets needed to enter the sandy beach. In addition to the cool water, there are walking and running paths, wildlife watching, and boating for your enjoyment. There is a central and a children’s pond, and both are regularly restocked with fish.
The Beach at Heron Lake
Lake Heron resides in Perry County and is known as a quiet lake. Boats only operate at no-wake speeds. This makes it an amazing place for all sorts of paddle boats and a really pleasant place to swim.
Fishermen flock here at a chance to catch kokanee salmon and record-sized trot. Fishermen can also enjoy ice fishing in the winter. It also has a variety of sailing, hiking, skiing, and cross-country opportunities. For those interested in staying overnight, there are campsites available.
The Beach at Navajo Lake State Park
With multiple campgrounds, two boat docks, and two marines, Navajo Lake is the second largest lake in New Mexico. There’s something for every boater, including motorized boaters, kayakers, sailors, water skiers, and canoers.
There are also extremely wonderful options for fly fishers. There are 150 miles of shoreline to explore, and about 280 days of sunshine that highlights the scenery. There’s also a campground for overnight guests and a trail along the lake.
The Beach at El Vado Lake
El Vado Lake is located in New Mexico’s northern mountains and has camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and winter cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Unlike other lakes in the area, it allows wakes.
Connecting El Vado to the nearby Heron Lake is a 5.5-mile trail that runs along the Rio Chama. It’s also a great wintering ground for bald eagles and other similar birds. For fishermen, there are even places to fish for kokanee salmon and trout.
The Rocky Beaches at Ute Lake
Ute Lake is one of the longest in the state, running at 13 miles. It has the pride and joy of having a variety of water sports and different camping options, including on water for houseboats inside canyons. Enjoy different activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, jet-skiing, and waterskiing. The lake is known for Bass tournaments, as well as walleye fishing.
White Sands National Park
Yes, this one is cheating! If you’re looking for long stretches of sand, but you don’t need the water, head to White Sands National Park! You can build sand castles and lay out on the “beach,” you just can’t dip your toes in the water afterwards!
New Mexico Travel Resources
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for your trip make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I have used World Nomads when I travel since 2016, and I happily recommend them.
Getting coverage is important whenever you’re more than a hundred miles from home in case of an accident, sickness, theft, etc.
Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.
Pin this Guide to the Best New Mexico Beaches for Your New Mexico Adventures!
Stephanie is a born-and-bred Oklahoma mom and travel expert who has been to over fifty countries. After living in Eastern Europe for four years, she has moved with her family back to Oklahoma to write about her favorite places growing up: Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, & Route 66!