Hunting and Fishing
Las Cruces is a great starting point for hunters and anglers alike. Although the Mesilla Valley is part of the Chihuahuan Desert with a relatively dry climate, there are ample opportunities for anglers and hunters who often use Las Cruces as their gateway to great adventures on the water and along game trails.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico’s largest lake, is approximately 70 miles north of Las Cruces and provides excellent fishing, boating, swimming and camping opportunities for the entire family. It’s not uncommon for Elephant Butte to draw 100,000 visitors during each of the summer’s three major holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day) so, if you wish for more solitude, plan your trip accordingly. Caballo Lake is about 15 miles south of Elephant Butte and provides many of the same water and recreational opportunities with smaller summer-time crowds. The Rio Grande, the river that flows from Colorado and through the entire length of New Mexico into Texas, provides seasonal opportunities for fishing, swimming, canoeing and kayaking. The Elephant Butte Irrigation District controls water flow of the Rio Grande from Elephant Butte and Caballo lakes. Lake levels fluctuate depending on rain and snowfall in Colorado and northern New Mexico, so the Rio Grande below Caballo Lake is often dry from late-summer until late spring. Fishing along the Rio Grande is popular when water is flowing with catfish, walleye and rainbow trout being the most common species in the river.
Forested lands to the west and east of Las Cruces – the Gila National Forest and the Lincoln National Forest – have several lakes, rivers and streams that can be fished. Popular lakes in the Gila National Forest include Lake Roberts, Snow Lake and Quemado Lake. Popular lakes in the Lincoln National Forest include Grindstone Lake, Bonito Lake and Alto Lake. Check with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for information on fishing within the boundaries of federal lands.
Hunters can find small and big game on many of the public lands within Dona Ana County and in the forested areas nearby. Although hunting is prohibited in National Parks, National Monuments and designated wildlife refuges, there are many opportunities for hunting game (cottontail rabbit, mule and white-tailed deer, antelope, turkey, dove and duck) in the area.
Hunting tags for oryx, introduced to White Sands Missile Range from 1969 through 1975, are available through the annual New Mexico Big Game Draw.
Please visit the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish website for information on hunting and fishing within New Mexico.
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