Heron Lake State Park Travel Guide

  • Heron Lake at Dam Looking Northeast
    Heron Lake at Dam Looking Northeast
    by AlbuqRay
  • El Vado Lake and Peninsula
    El Vado Lake and Peninsula
    by AlbuqRay
  • Rio Brazos and Mountains Near Los Ojos
    Rio Brazos and Mountains Near Los Ojos
    by AlbuqRay

Heron Lake State Park Things to Do

  • AlbuqRay's Profile Photo

    by AlbuqRay Updated Oct 14, 2011

    The Rio Chama Overlook is at the east end of Heron Lake Dam. It has a spectacular view of the Rio Chama Gorge below the dam. Actually it is Willow Creek that joins the Rio Chama after being impounded as Heron Lake by Heron Dam. Willow Creek flows for only ~1000 feet from the dam before reaching the Rio Chama. A couple miles below that, the Rio Chama flows into El Vado Lake. Water hydrants and restrooms are available at the Overlook.

    The Rio Chama Trail is a 5.5-mile hiking trail from Heron Lake to El Vado Lake State Park. At the Lake Heron end, it descends from the caprock via a dramatically steep set of wooden stairs and then crosses the river on a suspension bridge. Both were built by the Youth Conservation Corp in the early 1980's. The trail then runs southwest through wooded terrain to the grounds of El Vado Lake State Park. There is a trail from the Overlook along the caprock rim to the Rio Chama Trail; however, in October 2011 the rim area was closed to the public.

    Rio Chama Overlook at Heron Dam Rio Chama Gorge from the Overlook Back Side of Heron Dam from Rio Chama Overlook Start of Rim Trail Along Caprock (Closed Oct 2011) Entrance to Rio Chama Overlook
    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Fishing
    • Camping

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  • AlbuqRay's Profile Photo

    by AlbuqRay Updated Oct 13, 2011

    To get to some good trout fishing on the Rio Brazos from the Stone House Lodge, you must go back to US-84 on NM-95 (14 miles), then north on US-84 for ~2 miles, and finally east on NM-512 for ~7 miles. It is a beautiful setting on the Rio Brazos and the fishing can be quite good, especially after NM Game and Fish stocks the river with rainbow trout. Our group did not do badly using worms and salmon eggs (several small trout and three good sized ones).

    Rio Brazos and Mountains Fishing on the Rio Brazos Sunset on the Rio Brazos Got One Good Sized Rainbow Trout Got Two Good Sized Rainbows
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Fishing

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  • AlbuqRay's Profile Photo

    by AlbuqRay Updated Oct 13, 2011

    El Vado Lake is designated as a coldwater fishery. There are largemouth bass, bluegill, rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout and kokanee salmon. Salmon snagging is allowed in the fall from 1 October - 31 December. Note that salmon snagging is closed at Heron Lake and Willow Creek from 1 October - 10 November to allow salmon egg and milt collecting. The day we went fishing on El Vado Lake (1 Oct 2011), the water was very low but the fish were active and jumping. We got a few bites on worms but no fish. We probably should have tried some spinners or spoons.

    Trail to El Vado Lake from Stone House Lodge El Vado Lake Near Stone House Lodge Ray Fishing in El Vado Lake Near Stone House Lodge Waiting for a Bite at El Vado Lake Fishing in El Vado Lake Near Stone House Lodge
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Camping
    • Fishing

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Heron Lake State Park Restaurants

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    by AlbuqRay Updated Oct 13, 2011

    I had brought food with me on my road trip and the cabin had a fully equipped kitchen, but the food in the Stone House Lodge Cafe was so good and reasonably priced, that I ended up mostly eating there. The selection was not as big as their online menu, but there was always a delicious New Mexican selection. The portions were quite large too.

    Favorite Dish: Don't miss the homemade cinnamon rolls! I had them with butter and heated up. They may even be better than the famous cinnamon rolls at the Frontier Cafe in Albuquerque.

    Inside the Stone House Lodge Cafe Inside the Stone House Lodge Cafe Red Enchiladas at Stone House Lodge Cafe Homemade Cinnamon Roll at Stone House Lodge Cafe Steak Strip Dinner at Stone House Lodge Cafe
    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Camping
    • Fishing

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Heron Lake State Park Shopping

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    by AlbuqRay Updated Oct 13, 2011

    Don't worry about driving all the way back into town for provisions when you are at Heron or El Vado Lakes. The Stone House Lodge General Store stocks groceries, ice, fishing tackle, gasoline and most other items you might need during your stay. They can even fill your propane tank, rent you a boat and fishing pole, or listen to your fish story. If your fish story is good enough, you may use the VIP parking!

    Stone House Lodge Office and General Store Stone House Lodge General Store Entrance to Stone House Lodge Cafe & General Store VIP Parking at Stone House Lodge Cafe and Store
    Related to:
    • Camping
    • Fishing
    • Sailing and Boating

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Heron Lake State Park Favorites

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    by AlbuqRay Updated Apr 22, 2013

    Favorite thing: The Heron Lake State Park Visitors' Center is on NM-95 about 6 miles west of US-84. It is a small visitors' center but has park information and rangers on duty. There are also clean, indoor restrooms. The trailhead for the Salmon Run Trail and the East Meadow Trail is next to the parking lot. The Salmon Run Trail runs from the Visitors' Center down the whole east side of the lake to the dam.

    Heron Lake State Park Visitors Center Trailhead for the Salmon Run & East Meadow Trails Salmon Run Trail at Visitors Center Salmon Run and East Meadow Trails Map Heron Lake State Park Marker
    Related to:
    • Camping
    • Fishing
    • Sailing and Boating

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