Rising waters at Elephant Butte leaves less camping space for visitors

New Mexico

ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (KRQE) – This year Elephant Butte is about 50-feet higher than it was last year at this time. Large crowds of people are trying to enjoy the lake this holiday weekend and are finding that there are much smaller beaches.

For decades the levels in the Butte have been low. Heavy runoff from the Rio Grande is creating the perfect conditions for boaters. In May, the water in Elephant Butte was rising six inches per day. Now campers say the rising waters are giving them less area to pitch a tent.

“There’s people behind you, they come into camp sites, you know? You don’t have privacy like you used to when it used to be a big beach,” said camper Patrick Giron

Campers say there used to be a land bridge connecting the beach to Rattlesnake Island, however this year, it’s covered with water.

Officials at Elephant Butte State Park say while there appears to be less room to camp, there are definitely more people and they’re happy to trade lakefront property for more of the lake they come to enjoy.

Butte officials say they’re expecting at least 100,000 visitors this weekend. Their annual fireworks show is Saturday night.

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