Elephant Butte turning away out of state visitors

Coronavirus New Mexico

ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (KRQE) – From license plate checks to checking driver’s licenses, the governor said no more out of state visitors at state parks. Reporting gate attendants are now asking to see proof of residency, for everyone in any car entering the park.

“They are being very strict. They’re checking ID’s, if you’re out of state plates. They’re even checking if there’s a group of people, checking their ID’s. They’re being very diligent about it,” says Dan Simpson.

Enforcement looks a lot different now then what News 13 crews saw on the weekend of July 4. On the holiday weekend, gate attendants were letting in dozens of out of state cars, trucks, and RVs, even though the parks are only supposed to be open to New Mexico residents.

On Friday, News 13 crews caught drivers being told they needed to turn around if they could not present proof of New Mexico residency. Once at the park, there was nearly an empty beach. People said they’re missing the crowds. “Oh, I love the crowds, bigger the crowd the better. One hundred thousand people here, better,” said Manuel Sanchez.

Even though he’s missing all those people, Sanche sa she understands why these precautions are in place, and says it’s nice to be able to socially distance at the lake. The park is also closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and right now, over night camping is not allowed.

Masks are also required to enter the park, but News 13 did not see anyone on the beaches wearing them, nor did we see any enforcement. News 13 asked state parks how many people they’ve allowed in today but have not heard back.


New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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