The Caballo Mountains serve as a majestic backdrop for Caballo Lake State Park, which boasts a full array of water sports, winter waterfowl watching, and cactus gardens in bloom.
This park's claim to fame are the majestic bald and golden eagles that migrate through. Beginning in late October, they arrive to nest at Caballo. Numerous golden eagles nest in the nearby Caballo foothills, while bald eagles will nest in a large area in and around the park.
The Park has 63 developed campsites in two campgrounds. One overlooks Caballo Lake and one (Riverside) is along the bank of the Rio Grande.
The bulk of the park's facilities and campsites are on the west side of the lake, just north of the dam. These include Appaloosa, Palomino and Stallion.
The Riverside area has more trees...cottonwoods, black willow, green ash, and Arizona sycamore...and is more secluded than the lake section of the park. It is here that the park's RV rally site is located...the only one in the New Mexico State Park System...with a large group shelter, huge barbecue grills, and a gated campground that can accommodate over 200 recreational vehicles.
Our favorite sites would be 32 in Stallion and the primitive ones along the river.
P.O. BOX 32
Caballo NM 87931
Drive 16 miles south of Truth or Consequences via I-25; take exit 58 and NM 187
Visitors can stroll among yuccas, century plants, ocotillos, cow tongues, prickly pears and other desert cacti growing in the park's two cacti gardens. Most of these cacti provide beautiful blooms in late March and early April.
Swimming, water skiing, fishing, jet skiing and windsurfing are some of the wet and wild activities available at the Caballo Lake. Both lake and river provide anglers with the opportunity to catch a variety of fish. The area is home to largemouth bass, walleye, white bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, northern pike, sunfish and an occasional rainbow trout.
Another in a series of lake parks created by damming the Rio Grande, Caballo Lake has a surface area of more than 11,500 acres, making it New Mexico's third largest state park. Created in the late 1930's with the construction of an earth filled dam 96 feet high by 4.558 feet long, the lake's main purpose is to catch and store water released by Elephant Butte Dam (25 miles upstream) during electric generation. The water is released in the summer for irrigation. When full, the lake is 18 miles long.
The main activity here is fishing, primarily for White Bass and Walleye, although anglers also catch Black Bass, Crappie, Catfish, Northern Pike and Sunfish. Outside the main section of the park but close by, are several fishing supply stores.
Although most boating here is for getting to the best fishing spot, the lake also attracts small sailboats and windsurfers, especially in spring. Canoeists often put into the Rio Grande just south of Elephant Butte Dam near the town of Williamsburg and paddle down to Caballo Lake, a distance of about 10 miles. There is no designated swimming beach, but the best swimming is usually just west of the dam and in the upper flats, which is on the north edge of the main park campgrounds.
Trails at Caballo Lake are more for walking from place to place than serious hiking, and all of the park's 5.5 miles of sandy trails are considered easy. The 0.25 mile Overlook Trail is a loop over a grassy and cactus studded knoll that offers good views out across the lake. Another trail heads north from the campgrounds about 3 miles to an area called Eagle Point. A branch of this trail also goes south of the visitor center to the lake. The park also has several well tended cactus gardens, with yucca, agave, ocotillo, prickly pear, mesquite, and other desert plants.
Bird watching is most successful mid-week when there are fewer boats on the lake, although it is generally not quite as good as at nearby Percha Dam State Park. In recent years, a breeding pair of Bald Eagles have made Caballo Lake their winter lake. Also seen are Golden Eagles, Northern Goshawks, Double-crested Cormorants, Common Loons, Snowy Egrets, Scaled Quail, Sandhill Cranes, American White Pelicans and Roadrunners. There are dozens of songbirds, several species of Hummingbirds, and numerous Geese and Ducks.
Mammals include a seemingly endless parade of rock squirrels and cottontail rabbits, plus the park is also home to coyotes, wolves, foxes, raccoons, mule deer, and an occasional black bear. There are also rattlesnakes, lizards, frogs and turtles.
The small visitor center has displays on archeology of the area and historic photos from the construction of Caballo Dam. There are color photos of the birds, fish, and plants of the park to help with identification, and there is a sandbox with stamps to create footprints of the park's wildlife, including deer, bald eagles, frogs, and snapping turtles. Annual events at the park include several fishing tournaments, including a youth fishing derby in late September. Each April Earth Day is celebrated with tree plantings.