7 Amazing Lakes and Ponds near El Paso, TX

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If you’ve been struggling to find recreational lakes in El Paso, you are not alone. The city is synonymous with hot weather and the barren desert landscape. Yet, even here, you can find an occasional oasis. 

For example, many of the options near the city are small ponds, perfect for fishing and picnics. But the further you’re prepared to drive, the more alternatives open up, including the large reservoirs where wakeboarding and jet skiing are just the beginning.

The best way to visit the largest lakes is to rent an RV and spend a weekend by the water. Check out what El Paso has to offer!

Lakes near El Paso:

  1. Ascarate Park
  2. Alumni Pond
  3. Young Park
  4. Hideaway Lakes
  5. Leasburg Dam State Park
  6. Caballo Lake
  7. Elephant Butte Reservoir
Lakes near El Paso Texas Comparison Table

1. Ascarate Park

Ascarate Park
  • Official Page: Ascarate Park
  • Distance from El Paso: 7 miles (12 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, BBQs, Walking

Ascarate Park is one of the most popular parks in El Paso. It includes a 48-acre lake teeming with fish, making it one of the best spots for fishing.

The lake is frequently stocked with catfish (summer) and trout (winter) and attracts amateur anglers year-round. You can fish just for fun or participate in one of the fishing tournaments and test your skills against others.

Another popular recreation on the lake is boating. Kayaking and canoeing are fun ways to explore the shoreline, but motorized boats are prohibited unless you use a trolling motor, in which case a johnboat and rod are your best friends.

And even if you are not into paddling or fishing, there is plenty to do in the park. For example, it boasts dozens of picnic spots, grills, a golf course, and a walking trail that circles the lake. Plus, there is an aquatic center with a large refreshing pool, perfect for summer!

The only drawback to Ascarate Park is that it’s the only lakeside destination in El Paso. It gets crowded on weekends, but this is West Texas, where water is hard to come by.

Related: 9 Epic Lakes for Recreation near Lubbock

2. Alumni Pond

Alumni Pond
  • Official Page: Alumni Pond
  • Distance from El Paso: 43 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Picnics, Walking

Alumni Pond is a small reservoir in the heart of the NMSU campus in Las Cruces. It takes about 45 minutes to get here from El Paso.

The pond is a highly-rated destination that gets stocked frequently with trout or channel catfish, but you can also catch bluegill and sunfish. Also, Las Cruces runs children’s fishing days and a fishing clinic to make your trip even more enjoyable.

Apart from having fun at the pond, the NMSU campus offers picnic areas and miles of footpaths to explore. But that’s pretty much it.

Yet, considering the shortage of lakeside spots, the 45-minutes drive can be worth it, especially if you’re mad about fishing or want to visit a new area.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Odessa, TX

3. Young Park

Young Park
  • Official Page: Young Park
  • Distance from El Paso: 52 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Picnics, Walking, Playgrounds

Young Park is another family-friendly destination in Las Cruces, some 50 miles from El Paso. 

The park has a pond that is stocked frequently and is known for fantastic fishing. You can expect to catch rainbow trout in winter and catfish, bass, and sunfish in warmer months.

The park itself offers a selection of picnic shelters and several playgrounds, making it an ideal spot for family day trips. 

Although it’s a highly-rated and popular park, there aren’t many activities to pursue here. And if you’re searching for swimming and boating, you’ll have to venture a little further.

Related: 9 Epic Lakes for Recreation near Lubbock

4. Hideaway Lakes

  • Official Page: Hideaway Lakes
  • Distance from El Paso: 43 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Camping, RVs, Picnics, BBQs

Hideaway Lakes is a set of privately-owned ponds near Tornillo, 45 minutes south of El Paso. The destination is well-known for its fishing and camping. 

It features two ponds stocked with catfish and 80 campsites neatly spread around the lakes, guaranteeing a spot by the water. Almost every campsite is shaded by the trees, and some have electric RV hookups.

The catches here vary, with some anglers reporting no fish at all while others proudly show off five-pound hauls. In any case, you can only keep three fish per permit per day.

When it comes to drawbacks, people complain about the high price tag and strict rules (see here), but with only a few fishing spots around, you can’t be picky.

Apart from fishing, camping, and grilling, the area doesn’t offer much. But at least you can come for a multi-day trip and enjoy a campfire by the lake.

Related: 11 Stunning Lakes near Tucson, AZ

5. Leasburg Dam State Park

  • Official Page: Leasburg Dam State Park
  • Distance from El Paso: 61 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Camping, RVs, Hiking, Swimming, Mountain Biking

Leasburg Dam State Park doesn’t have any lakes, but it sits on the banks of Rio Grande, just an hour from downtown El Paso.

The park offers swimming, fishing, paddling, hiking, and camping, making it the most versatile destination within an hour’s reach and the perfect spot for cooling down in summer.

Rafting is also a popular activity on the Rio Grande, and the park is a popular launching spot. You can easily get as far as Las Cruces in a day.

However, the concern is the ever-dwindling flow of Rio Grande. Usually, the dams release the water between March and August during the irrigation period. But in recent years, the drought reduced the river to a trickle. So, it’s better to call the park and find out the water situation before traveling.

Still, the park is the top outdoor destination near El Paso that is definitely worth the one-hour drive, especially considering the cozy campground that makes multi-day trips possible.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Odessa, TX

6. Caballo Lake

Caballo Lake
Photo: BLMCC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Caballo Lake
  • Distance from El Paso: 100 miles (1h 35min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Camping, RVs, Hiking, Swimming, Mountain Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Jet Skiing

Caballo Lake is an 11,000-acre reservoir located 100 miles from El Paso. It is the nearest full-on lake destination with a well-developed shoreline.

Although the lake is dotted with campgrounds and RV parks, the best way to enjoy it is to visit Cabello Lake State Park, especially if it’s your first time here. Many folks rent RVs and spend whole weekends here.

The park offers developed campgrounds with over 170 sites, most of which have hookups. Plus, there are swimming areas, boat launching ramps, miles of hiking and equestrian trails, and showers.

Caballo Lake is one of two lakes around El Paso where you can do serious boating, including wakeboarding and water skiing. 

Yet, it’s also a popular paddling spot, partly because it has access to the Rio Grande and acts as a termination point when rafting from Elephant Butte and partly because it offers boat-in camping sites.

Another great thing about Caballo Lake is that it’s quieter than Elephant Butte Reservoir, making it a more peaceful and family-friendly destination. 

Related: 7 Fantastic Lakes near Amarillo

7. Elephant Butte Reservoir

  • Official Page: Elephant Butte Reservoir
  • Distance from El Paso: 124 miles (1h 50min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Camping, RVs, Hiking, Swimming, Mountain Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Jet Skiing

Elephant Butte Reservoir is a special place. At 40,000 acres, it is the largest body of water in New Mexico and home to the state’s biggest park.

The reservoir’s 100-mile long shoreline is dotted with various campgrounds. You can often place a tent right on the beach or enjoy more developed RV parks.

Boating is the lake’s main attraction. It boasts several docks, ramps, and a few marinas which offer boat rental services. Wakeboarding, jet skiing, and water skiing are just a few popular water activities here, but you can also try more exotic scuba diving.

When it comes to fishing, Elephant Butte is well-recognized in New Mexico and holds a few state records. For example, the largest Blue Catfish (52lbs) was caught here in 2005. You can fish from shore or the boat, but many newcomers choose to take guided fishing trips and fast-track their way to success.

Another cool thing about Elephant Butte is that it’s home to the annual Balloon Regatta, where hot air balloons touch the water in their relay race. It usually runs in August and is a jaw-dropping spectacle.

The drawback to the reservoir is that it’s not as full as it used to be as draughts put pressure on the water resources in the area. Still, Elephant Butte remains an oasis in the otherwise barren desert. It’s definitely worth a visit!

Best Lakes near El Paso

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