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Enchanting Cochiti Lake, New Mexico

Posted by Jody on October 21, 2011

Cochiti Lake Recreation Area (Photo by EGD)

When you’ve been in New Mexico for 20+ years, it seems easy to take for granted that you live in “The Land of Enchantment.” Sometimes even we  need to get out and re-explore the back roads to remind ourselves of the beauty that is New Mexico! The Cochiti Lake Recreation Area is just that type of reminder.

An easy 45 minute drive north of Albuquerque, New Mexico lies the idyllic Cochiti Lake Recreation Area.  Here you’ll find the serene no-wake Cochiti Lake, picnic shelters galore, overnight camping, and a lovely, well maintained swimming beach.  In fact, the entire recreation area is wonderfully managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Beach at Cochiti Lake, New Mexico (©Jody Diehl)

“Numbers grow each weekend at what may be the nicest beach in the State of New Mexico. Visitors bring pop-up shelters, gas barbeque grills and chairs and spend most of the day having fun at Cochiti Lake. The Cochiti Lake staff has been working to make the beach larger, constructing more shelters and providing more parking areas to make everyone welcome.” (USACE) With the prevalence of New Mexico breezes, sailboarding and sailing are popular activities on Cochiti Lake.

Scenic Drive to Cochiti Lake, New Mexico (©Jody Diehl)

Cochiti Lake was formed by the building of Cochiti Dam, the eleventh largest earth-filled dam in the world. Construction of the dam began in 1965 and took a decade to complete at a cost of $94.4 million. The Cochiti Dam stretches 5.5 miles and rises 251 feet to impound the waters of the Rio Grande (the fifth longest river in North America) and the Santa Fe River.

We really enjoy the scenic drive to the Cochiti Lake Recreation Area.  There is enough water in the area to make for some beautiful New Mexico style foliage, and everything you see is framed by rugged mountains and hills.  There are also several delightfully friendly communities with lovely, well-kept houses and farms, and the locals are almost guaranteed to wave to you as you drive through!  It’s customary to wave a friendly “howdy” back.

Directions: From Santa Fe, south on I-25 to exit 264, west on Highway 16 and north on Cochiti Highway (Hwy 22). From Albuquerque, north on I-25 to exit 259, northwest on Highway 22.

Have a great day at the beach! (Wherever you are!)

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