Completed in 1963 after a six-year construction on the San Juan River, the earth and rock-filled dam is nearly 0.75-miles long and 400 feet high. It is the central amenity of Navajo Lake State Park and has a world class reputation for outdoor adventure and fishing. Covering 14,000 acres with 158 miles of shoreline it is the second largest lake in New Mexico.
Navajo Lake is the ultimate playground for adventurers with over 280 days of sunshine and spectacular scenery. It is ideal for a day of fishing, swimming, scuba-diving, water-skiing, wildlife viewing, and hiking or for a week of camping and boating. Spend one or more days exploring the beautiful network of canyons by boat or fish from many day use areas around the lake or along the famous San Juan River. At night, settle in by the campfire and sleep under the mesmerizing southwest star filled sky or enjoy the home-away-from-home comforts at one of the popular lodges nearby.
Fishing is a popular activity throughout the year at Navajo Lake which is a year-round fishery for rainbow and brown trout, Kokanee salmon, northern pike, large and small mouth bass, bluegill, crappie, perch, and catfish. Many state records are held by the fish and fisherman of Navajo Lake. Anglers fish by boat and from the shoreline, marinas and dam.
➠ Obtain New Mexico Fishing License Online
World-class trout fishing can also be experienced along the San Juan River. A 4.25 mile section of special catch and release waters located at the base of Navajo Dam, known as the Quality Waters, brings anglers from around the world. The average San Juan River Quality Waters trout measures over 17 inches. Water conditions of this section are perfect for fishing summer, fall, winter and spring.
➠ San Juan River Recreation Map (PDF 782 KB)
It's no secret that anglers from across the world visit Navajo Lake every year for the world-class fly-fishing found along the San Juan River at the base of Navajo Dam. However, did you know that Kokanee salmon season runs from October 1 to December 31? Because of the generous bag limit, salmon lovers rarely miss a season. Kokanee are land-locked sockeye salmon. While not native to the Southwest, Kokanee salmon thrive in deep and cold lakes like Navajo Lake. Every fall season, large schools of adult Kokanee gather to spawn along the shoreline of Navajo Lake. The bag limit is 12 Kokanee per day, with 24 in possession. Snagging at Navajo Lake is only permitted during the special Kokanee salmon snagging season.
If you are looking to spend a few nights by the campfire under a canopy of stars, there are numerous camping sites on both the New Mexico and Colorado sides. Campgrounds are located near each marina and along the San Juan River. Campsite amenities range from basic to full service. A Visitors Center is located at the entrance of each marina location. If you prefer to scout your own rugged location away from others, camping is also allowed throughout the park along the canyons and lakeshore.
For an up-close-and-personal tour of Navajo Lake, a hiking or mountain biking trip is recommended. The beautiful high desert landscape offers exciting areas to explore. The state park is perfect for an easy, family-friendly ride or hike as well as a challenging adventure for more experienced hiking and riding.
Three miles west of Navajo Lake is Simon Canyon Recreation Area, which offers 3,900 acres of breathtaking scenery and a variety of wildlife. Simon Canyon is a beautiful area to hike and nature watch. The mouth of the canyon is off the San Juan River, where a parking lot, picnic table, and restrooms are available. Hikers will discover Simon Canyon Pueblito which is a Navajo Pueblito overlooking the canyon drainage. Built in 1754, this ruin is the only "boulder type" defensive site north of the San Juan River. Contact the BLM Field Office for additional information, 800-842-3127.
Boating & Marinas
Navajo Lake is a large and fantastic lake for boating and can accommodate any size boat. For an up-close, intimate exploration of Navajo Lake, tour the canyons by kayak or sailboat. Kick back and enjoy the scenery from a pontoon boat or if you prefer a faster paced adventure, you can explore the waters by cabin cruiser or speedboat. Water-skiing, jet-skiing and wake boarding are also popular. The Marina at Pine and Sims Marina are full service marinas providing fuel, food, boat, slip and pontoon rentals. There are also two boat docks and boat ramps for easy launching. Two Rivers Marina is a third marina located along the northern shoreline in Colorado.