Editor’s Note: Second in a series in which the Journal looks around the map at New Mexico’s state parks.
New Mexico covers 121,697 square miles.
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s easy for New Mexicans to get out of the house and visit one area across the state.
Luckily, there are 35 state parks that can be pure fun to explore.
Here is a list of parks in the state’s northwest quadrant.
Bluewater Lake State Park
Located 25 miles west of Grants, this tranquil lake is set in a pinon juniper landscape overlooking the Zuni Mountains. The park offers camping, hiking, bird watching, horseback riding and fishing. Park Elevation: 7,554 feet.
Cerrillos Hills National Park
A year-round day park on the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Cross paths with over 1,100 years of mining history along five miles of hiking trails. Park Elevation: 5,900-6,100 feet.
El Vado Lake State Park
Located in the northern mountains of New Mexico, it offers fishing, boating, camping and hiking. An 8.8 km scenic hiking trail along the Rio Chama connects El Vado to nearby Heron Lake. Park Elevation: 7,209 feet.
Fenton Lake State Park
The Jemez Mountains provide the backdrop to this stunning year-round retreat surrounded by beautiful ponderosa pine forests. The Rio Cebolla flows through the park and there is also a fishing and canoeing lake. Park Elevation: 7,650 feet.
Heron Lake State Park
A scenic lake nestled among the tall pines of northern New Mexico that has been dubbed the “calm lake” where boats only travel at idle speed, making it a great spot for all types of paddle boats. Park Elevation: 7,167 feet.
Hyde Memorial State Park
It is the premier state park in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the midst of a pine forest along Little Tesuque Creek. The park is a short drive from Santa Fe and offers excellent group facilities and campgrounds. Park Elevation: 8,300-9,400 feet.
Manzano Mountains State Park
Manzano Mountains State Park is an excellent destination for hiking and camping. Nestled in the forested foothills of the Manzanos, this park offers a tranquil retreat, wildlife viewing, birding, and photography. Park Elevation: 7,250 feet.
Navajo Lake State Park
Navajo Lake is the state’s second largest lake with several campgrounds, two marinas, and two boat docks. The San Juan River is a premier fly fishing destination. Park Elevation: 5,600-6,600 feet.
Pecos Canyon State Park
New Mexico’s 35th State Park is located near the Pecos Wilderness of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in north-central NM. The newly created state park is currently under development and will feature fishing, camping and hiking. Park Elevation: 7,628-8,196 feet.
Rio Grande State Park Nature Center
Located on the Rio Grande flyway, the park offers excellent year-round birding opportunities. There are indoor and outdoor wildlife viewing areas overlooking ponds and a native plant garden. The park can only be used during the day, no camping. Leashed pets are only allowed in the parking lot and adjacent city lanes. Park Elevation: 4,968 feet.