Top 10 Beaches in New Mexico

Published on August 11th, 2021

What are the Most Popular Beaches in New Mexico?

New Mexico isn’t exactly known for its oceanfront property — kind of like its neighbor, Arizona. But make no mistake about it: there are some incredible beaches hidden in the Land of Enchantment, thanks to its many beautiful lakes and reservoirs. So if you’re looking for an oasis in this desert state, strap in: here are the top 10 beaches in New Mexico!

Top Beaches in New Mexico

1. Navajo Lake State Park

2. Heron Lake State Park Beach

3. Conchas Lake State Park Beach

4. Cochiti Lake Beach

5. Abiquiu Lake Swim Beach

6. Lion’s Beach at Elephant Butte Lake State Park

7. Caballo Lake State Park Beach

8. Lea Lake Beach at Bottomless Lakes State Park

9. White Sands National Park

10. Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area Swim Area

New Mexico Beaches

You definitely want to add these 10 sandy expanses to your next New Mexico itinerary.

1. Navajo Lake State Park

Navajo Lake State Park in New Mexico the Land of Enchantment with Houseboats

A gorgeous, two-pronged lake that snakes up through the northwestern quadrant of New Mexico, Navajo Lake State Park is situated on the edge of the Navajo Reservoir, with three separate recreation areas lending to the full experience of this part of the state. That means there are multiple beachfronts to choose from here, including Pine River, Mesa, and the San Juan River. Each area has its own speciality and reputation: San Juan River is great for trout fishers, while Mesa includes a visitor center with interpretive information. Pine River is the most well-developed and offers a full-service marina so you can take to the water from above as well as wade into its shallows.

Things to do near Navajo Lake State Park: Located about an hour northeast of Farmington, Navajo Lake State Park is certainly off the beaten path, making it a great place to take a concerted get away from the hustle and bustle of city living. We recommend checking out Navajo Dam, which helps regulate the waters in this reservoir and ensure the surrounding communities have enough, while also being a plain-old cool photo opp. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider.

2. Heron Lake State Park Beach

Heron Lake State Park Beach new mexico
Image via newmexicostateparks.reserveamerica.com

Another gorgeous lake tucked into the little-explored regions of northern New Mexico, Heron Lake is preserved and protected by Heron Lake State Park, which offers several beachfront access points to the lake itself. Another unique thing to know about this body of water: it’s a designated “quiet” lake, which means you won’t find jet skis and motorboats zipping across its surface making lots of wake. Instead, it’s reserved for canoers, sailers, and others who take to the waves more peacefully, making it that much more peaceful for the people who show up to sunbathe and wade along the edges.

Things to do near Heron Lake State Park Beach: Located deep in the north-central reaches of New Mexico, Heron Lake State Park Beach is not close to any major New Mexico cities, but it is a stone’s throw from the Carson National Forest, which has a wide world of outdoor recreation opportunities within. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider for your stay in this area, which is well worth exploring for several days.

3. Conchas Lake State Park Beach

Conchas Lake beach new mexico
Image via emnrd.nm.gov

A huge, blue oasis in the otherwise-wasteland that lies to the east of Albuquerque, Conchas Lake State Park offers a well-developed waterside recreational area, which includes picnic tables, grills, vault toilets, and more. Along with being a great place to relax and enjoy a beach day, Conchas Lake is also a popular one for watersports enthusiasts and those who like to take to the waves by boating, kayaking, windsurfing, and many other methods of transportation. Meanwhile, the countryside surrounding the lake is populated by animals like elk, deer, bald eagles and bobcats. No matter what kind of adventure you’re after, you can find it on the shores of Conchas Lake.

Things to do near Conchas Lake State Park Beach: Given its remote location approximately two and a half hours east of Albuquerque, the main draw to this lake… is the lake. That said, it’s well worth the drive thanks to its stunning views and quiet, serene pace. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider so you’ll have all the comforts of home on the road!

4. Cochiti Lake Beach

Cochiti Lake Recreation Area in New Mexico, USA

Tucked as it is almost exactly halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Cochiti Lake Beach is an ever-popular weekend getaway for residents of both cities, and is well worth a trip for those coming from further afield, too. As you relax on the hot desert sands, you’ll enjoy the sweeping vista of scrub-punctuated hills and valleys, all with that ever-present, bright-blue sky you can only find in New Mexico in the backdrop. To add more interest to your beach retreat, keep in mind that the Cochiti Dam, which helps maintain this reservoir, is the 11th largest earthen dam in the world, and the 23rd largest in the world by volume, period. Nearby boat ramps make it easy to take to the top of the lake as well as meandering around its edge.

Things to do near Cochiti Lake Beach: The absolutely unmissable Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is just in the shadow of this lake recreation area, and offers hiking trails for those of many different fitness levels and absolutely stunning views of unique desert rock formations. (Plus, of course, there’s everything Santa Fe and Albuquerque have to offer just to the east.) Here are some local RVshare rentals and campgrounds to consider for your journey.

5. Abiquiu Lake Swim Beach

Abiquiu Lake reservoir, New Mexico

There are so many wonderful reasons to go to Abiquiu — not the least of which is its status as one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s favorite places, and the site of her now-tourable long-term residence and the unique resort experience of Ghost Ranch, which the painter made famous. But even for those who couldn’t give a hoot about O’Keeffe, this incredible lakeside city is well worth adding to your list of New Mexico must-sees: the massive reservoir is all ringed with desert beauty, and offers excellent sunbathing opportunities for those who can handle the heat, and swimming opportunities for those who can handle its relatively chilliness. (The good news: all parties can certainly handle the epic views.)

Things to do near Abiquiu Lake Swim Beach: While the main Georgia O’Keeffe museum is in the capital city of Santa Fe, Abiquiu is where she made her home, and the home tour is fascinating no matter how much of an art appreciation nerd you are (or are not). If you’d rather spend more time outside, you’re in luck; this city is almost exactly between the expanses of Carson National Forest to the north and the Valles Caldera National Preserve to the south. Here are some area RVshare rentals to consider!

6. Lion’s Beach at Elephant Butte Lake State Park

Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico, USA

A little better than halfway down the I-25 corridor, between the twin landmarks of Albuquerque and Las Cruces, a town with the unique name of Truth or Consequences awaits — and it has plenty of charms to offer those who wander toward it. Best known for its hot springs, T or C is also lucky to have Elephant Butte Lake State Park right in its backyard… and, yes, although the word is pronounced byoot, the land formation does butt up right against a section of the Rio Grande that’s spread out into a beautiful, swimmable lake. Lion’s Beach is a favorite access point, with a soft, sandy shore that gives gradual way to the pure blue waters. The park also offers amenities like restrooms, showers, and an on-site campground, and nearby public pools and jacuzzis make it possible to get wet without getting your feet sandy, if that’s not your thing!

Things to do near Lion’s Beach at Elephant Butte Lake State Park: Definitely reserve yourself a soak at one of Truth or Consequences’ many private hot springs, or hit some balls at nearby Sierra Del Rio Golf Course. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider for a comfortable, convenient stay.

7. Caballo Lake State Park Beach

Caballo Lake State Park beach new mexico
Image via emnrd.nm.gov

On the south side of T or C, Caballo Lake State Park offers yet another beautiful beachfront, thanks to another Rio Grande reservoir managed and reserved by the nearby Caballo Dam. Along with swimming and sunbathing, this state park is a favorite for those looking to take to the water on boats or with rods and reels; anglers regularly pull up goodies like large- and small-mouth bass, white bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, northern pike, rainbow trout and walleye. Vault toilets and hiking trails are available in the park as well, and there are a number of nearby RV parks to choose from.

Things to do near Caballo Lake State Park Beach: Looking for another great way to experience these shimmering waters? The cutesily named named Sup Bro stands at the ready for visitors to rent equipment including stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and more. Here are some RVshare rentals in the area.

8. Lea Lake Beach at Bottomless Lakes State Park

Bottomless Lakes State Park, Roswell, New Mexico, US. View from above

Roswell, New Mexico is a place whose reputation precedes it: it’s known primarily for its flying saucer sightings, but it’s also lucky to have a natural gem like Bottomless Lakes State Park right in its backyard. One of the “bottomless” lakes the park holds is the beautiful Lea Lake, a small but scenic body of water tucked into the southern end of the preserve. Immediately alongside the lake you’ll find RV camping opportunities as well as restrooms and showers, which makes it easy to make this beach a weekend-long — or even week-long — getaway destination.

Things to do near Lea Lake Beach at Bottomless Lakes State Park: The town of Roswell is well worth exploring, if only to pick up a postcard with an alien cartoon and “The Truth is Out There!” printed on it. Plus, there are some excellent nearby RVshare rentals to choose from!

9. White Sands National Park

White Sands National Monument New Mexico, USA

Alright, you caught us: this one’s not actually a beach beach. Which is to say, there’s no giant body of water alongside the sugar-white sands. But still, if you’re interested in sandy stretches and you’re in the state of New Mexico, you absolutely can’t miss White Sands National Park, which spans more than 22o square miles, making it the largest gypsum sand dune field in the entire world. Although you can’t dip your toes in the water, you can sled gleefully down these massive dunes, or take a long, long walk in the sand. It’s also a historic missile testing site, so it’s got plenty of cultural significance as well as plain old beauty.

Things to do near White Sands National Park: Nestled into southern New Mexico just an hour or so outside of Las Cruces, White Sands National Park will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere while still being within easy reach of big-city resources. Be sure to save some time to check out the nearby San Andres National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to wild herds of desert bighorn sheep. Here are some RVshare rentals in the area to choose from!

10. Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area Swim Area

Pecos River New Mexico

Chances are you know the name Carlsbad even if you’ve never been within a thousand miles of the New Mexican desert. That’s because Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers one the most exquisite and accessible cave tours in not only America, but the world… but still, there’s more to see in this corner of the Chihuahuan Desert than what lies beneath. The Pecos River snakes its way through Carlsbad, and expands in one section out into the broader Lake Carlsbad, which offers a beautiful urban beach on its western bank. Small but mighty, this beach offers sandy shore as well as nearby equipment rentals, restrooms, and other facilities to make for a great day by (and in!) the water — in a place where it’s desperately needed.

Things to do near the Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area Swim Area: All the urban amenities of Carlsbad are right at your back when you visit this swim beach, and, of course, the wild preserves of the national park aren’t far afield. Here are some local RVshare rentals so you can stay long enough to see and explore it all!

Planning an RV Trip to New Mexico

Ready to see these incredible sandscapes? They’re just the very beginning of what New Mexico has to offer — we think you’ll agree it’s truly one of the biggest hidden gems in the States.

An RV trip is the perfect way to see and do it all, so check out our peer-to-peer RV rentals in New Mexico, as well as our guides to the best state parks and campgrounds throughout the state. We’ve written guides to its biggest cities and, of course, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which, along with White Sands, is one of its major destinations.

We can’t wait to hear all about your desert trip and the oases you find while you’re at it!

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