ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (KRQE) - It has been a tough summer season at Elephant Butte with low water levels keeping many people from enjoying the reservoir.
But with rain replenishing some of its capacity and a final holiday weekend, many wonder if the crowds are coming back.
Trips to Elephant Butte are a tradition for thousands of families across New Mexico and the southwest.
“I've been coming out here since my teen years,” said Vangie Etsitty, an Albuquerque resident.
“It's all about family and friends and having a good time,” said Susan Gurule, another Albuquerque resident.
Despite the tradition though, taking a look around Elephant Butte, many regulars will say the beaches at definitely seen more people this Labor Day weekend.
“I think it has deterred a few people from coming out but its... there's still a good crowd,” said Vangie.
New Mexico State Parks is still working on the official numbers, but the area has seen a surge of campers and boaters for the Labor Day holiday. However, the crowds are still along the lines of what has happened all summer: fewer people with little water.
“We see fewer crowds because people get a little bit concerned,” said Alan Brown, co-owner of the Marina del Sur at Elephant Butte.
Brown says the low water has cut into this summer’s business.
“We're a little bit under where we were last year in terms of revenues at the park,” said Brown.
It may be a down year but there’s still optimism as the lake has gained seven to eight feet of water in the last month since crews shut down the dam.
“The water is terrific,” said Brown. “I have to dive it, I'll tell you its 40 feet under us right now.”
Brown says the low crowds could also be one of Elephant Butte’s biggest draws in the coming months.
“September and October, the lake is still, the water is warm and the air is a little cooler, so we see a lot more of the people who come on the weekends,” said Brown.
Until then, the people who are at the lake say they don’t regret it.
“It seems like a little less but then that's cool because you're not too crowded,” said Jill Casias, an Albuquerque resident.
“We make do with what we have we still have a good time,” said Vangie.
While New Mexico State Parks is still working on the official attendance numbers for the weekend, several workers there said Sunday it appears numbers this weekend are less than last Labor Day. Typically, about 50 to 60 thousand people visit the park over the holiday.
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