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Unveiling New Mexico’s Hidden Gems: 5 Must-Visit Paddle Boarding Launch Locations

February 24, 2023

New Mexico might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of paddle boarding. But it actually has some great hidden locations for the sport. From serene lakes to scenic rivers, the Land of Enchantment has something for every level of paddler.

If you want to expand your sites beyond the confines of the coasts, here are some of the best launch locations in New Mexico for paddle boarding. Along with directions to the best launch locations at each spot!

Elephant Butte

Located in southern New Mexico, Elephant Butte Lake is the largest and most popular lake in the state. With over 36,000 surface acres of water and 200 miles of shoreline, this lake is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Paddle boarders will love the calm waters and stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape. The wide-open waterway combined with the sweeping desert mountain views, make this a launch location you won’t soon forget. Plus, with its mostly protected shoreline, it’s the perfect spot for a beginner paddler to get on the water with no issues.

The best launch location for paddle boarding at Elephant Butte Lake is the Elephant Butte Lake State Park Marina. This marina has a designated launch area for paddle boards. As well as rental options for those who don’t have their own board.

Elephant Butte, paddle boarding launch locations in New Mexico

Rio Grande

The Rio Grande is one of the most iconic rivers in the United States. And it runs right through New Mexico. With sections ranging from calm and slow-moving to fast and challenging, the Rio Grande has something for every level of paddler. Plus, you’ll be able to confidently state that you paddle boarded on this iconic river!

The best launch location for paddle boarding on the Rio Grande is the Pilar Yacht Club. This launch location is located just south of Taos and provides easy access to some of the most scenic sections of the river. Paddle boarders can expect to see towering cliffs, lush vegetation, and plenty of wildlife along the way.

Rio Grande, paddle boarding launch locations in New Mexico

Abiquiu Lake

Abiquiu Lake is a hidden gem in northern New Mexico. Paddle boarders like yourself will love the serene and peaceful atmosphere of this lake.

Here’s a little extra context of what you can expect while out there taken from, “This 5,200 surface acre reservoir offers some of the finest fishing in northern New Mexico. Reptile fossils 200 million years old have been found in the area. The area includes a fine panoramic view of the Cerro Pedernal from the dam.”

The best launch location for paddle boarding at Abiquiu Lake is the developed recreation area on the north end of the lake. This area has a boat ramp and plenty of parking for paddle boarders. Or you can check out the camping locations on

Abiquiu Lake, paddle boarding launch locations in New Mexico

Lake Carlsbad

Located in southeastern New Mexico, Lake Carlsbad is a popular spot for water sports. With calm waters and plenty of space, this lake is ideal for paddle boarders who are just starting out.

The area is great for spending a day or a weekend with plenty of area to explore and fun activities to enjoy. The area is made of, “125.6 acres located along the Pecos River from the railroad bridge south to the upper Tansil Dam. This area is used for picnics, water sports, playgrounds and fishing and boating. There are many areas for picnics in shaded areas with picnic tables and grills. There is a swim area that is open to the public from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.”

The best launch location for paddle boarding at Lake Carlsbad is Lake Carlsbad Beach Park. This park has a designated area for paddle boarders and plenty of space to explore.

Lake Carlsbad, paddle boarding launch locations in New Mexico

Cochiti Lake

Cochiti Lake is a scenic reservoir located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. This lake is known for its clear blue water and surrounding red rock cliffs. If you’re a beginner paddler, this might be your best bet. Plus, with a convenient location between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, you have a great pit stop in between these two beautiful cities as you explore New Mexico.

The best launch location for paddle boarding at Cochiti Lake is the Cochiti Lake Recreation Area. This area has a designated launch area for paddle boarders and plenty of parking. Paddle boarders can explore the coves and inlets of the lake, or venture out into the main body of water for a more challenging paddle.


We hop you enjoyed uncovering five of the best paddle boarding launch locations in New Mexico. Ready to start planning your trip to the Land of Enchantment? You’re guaranteed to find New Mexico one of the most beautiful locations for a paddle, no matter what location you decide to visit.

Have questions? Comments? Drop us a message – our inbox is always open. And like always, be sure to adventure on!

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