Elephant Butte businesses frustrated lake closed for Memorial Day

Coronavirus New Mexico

ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (KRQE) – Elephant Butte usually turns into New Mexico’s second-biggest city during these warm holiday weekends but with the lake closed this year, it’s a ghost town. There are usually long lines of cars waiting to get in to enter Elephant Butte Lake but that’s not the case since the lake has been closed since mid-March.

“Usually we have campers all along the beaches, people come out for the holiday and usually as far as you can see they’ll be campers out here. Normally over 100,000 people,” said Neal Brown.

Brown is the president of Lago Rico Inc. which is the main marina at Elephant Butte Lake. He says times have been tough since the lake has been closed to the public for the past couple of months. Brown says with the closure, the marina is down more than $100,000 and that number will continue to get worse since they were closed for Memorial weekend which is usually one of their busiest times of the year.

The marina isn’t the only place in Elephant Butte that’s remained quiet. Businesses in town are struggling too, like local favorite Casa Taco. “I think it’s going to hurt this community a bit there’s already been three or four places that said they probably won’t open when everything goes back to normal. Most people the general consensus is around here is everyone just wants life to go back to normal,” said David Conley, Casa Taco Manager.

Holiday weekends can draw more than 100,000 visitors to the lake. That’s a lot of business back in town. It’s still unclear when the lake will reopen. Right now, signs say it is closed until further notice. With a ban on mass gatherings looking likely to remain for a while, Elephante Butte has already canceled its popular Fourth of July fireworks show.

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