Elephant Butte Lake rises 50 feet since last Memorial Day

New Mexico

As the usual rush of people heads to Elephant Butte for the holiday weekend, they’re going to find a lake that’s a lot bigger than they’re used to seeing. With the huge winter and spring, the runoff is doing wonders for the lake. The water is up 50 feet from last year.

“Bunch of people out fishing today,” said Marina Del Sur manager Neal Brown.

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for a day at the lake. Boaters and campers are already setting up at Elephant Butte Lake State Park for the holiday weekend.

“It’s why they call it New Mexico’s playground, because it’s a fun place,” said Brown.

But this year, the lake looks a lot different. The water level was so low last year, strips of land were surfacing from the water. It’s a stark contrast to what it looks like today. It’s about 50 feet higher than it was a year ago, as the Rio Grande keeps delivering all that rain and snow from the north.

“This is unusual to see the water coming in this fast and this much water,” said Brown.

Beaches around the lake might not be here if you visit in the next few months. State officials believe the water could still rise maybe 10 more feet.

“We usually have an island out here and that island in front of the marina, which has always been an obstacle pulling into the marina, but the water is over the island and it’s gone,” said boater Larry Hill.

“A lot of the bridges are going underwater, and we’re seeing a lot more islands,” said Brown. “The lake is getting big again.”

The water is rising so quickly, Brown says he had to move his marina.

“The water keeps coming up we’ll have to keep moving Marina del Sur to stay in the water,” said Brown. “We have to have a bridge closer to the land, so we have to move the marina closer to the land and still get on the marina.”

Locals hope the rising water will bring a big tourist season with it.

“So come on down to Elephant Butte Lake,” said Hill.

The water’s been rising about 6 inches a day lately. State officials said if you plan on camping on the beach, make sure you don’t set up too close to the water.

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