High water levels at Elephant Butte leave some RVs in the water


ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (KRQE) – Big winter weather and big spring runoff have water levels rising quickly at Elephant Butte Lake.

That’s a problem for people who are leaving their RVs on the beach to claim a spot for the big Memorial Day weekend.

“My truck wasn’t even in the water,” said an RV owner at Elephant Butte Lake on Wednesday. “Right now, the front tires would be in the water.”

Elephant Butte Park officials say some campers are leaving RVs unattended ahead of one of the busiest times on the lake — Memorial Day weekend.

Park officials say right now the lake is 14 feet higher than this time last year.

The rising water levels are sure to come as a surprise for some unsuspecting visitors who set up earlier this week to hold a spot on the beach.

“People are going to have issues when they come down here, they’re going to find their trailers really close to the water, maybe even in the water,” boating officer Salvador Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez adds that not only is it a bad idea to leave RVs so close to the shore, it’s also against park rules.

Officials say camps cannot be left unattended for more than 24 hours.

“In the previous summers the water would be going down,” Gonzalez said.

But this year, he says water levels have gone up 8 to 10 feet in the last month from the spring runoff. Gonzalez says Elephant Butte is the fullest it’s been since about 2008.

“You need to park a little bit, at least 30 feet from the edge of the water,” said Manuel Flores, who set up his camp Wednesday.

Flores says this year’s high water levels are hard to miss.

“Oh yes, definitely the past three years I believe was pretty dry out here,” Flores said.

This weekend, park officials expect about 100,000 visitors, which is about 20,000 more than last year.

Park officials say people who park their RVs near the water do so at their own risk.

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