Most of New Mexico’s State parks are now open to visitors for day use activities and although COVID-19 restrictions have limited some opportunities, residents of Sierra County and their neighbors throughout the state can get out to enjoy these public venues.
In a June 19 announcement New Mexico State Parks (NMSP) authorities confirmed present health restrictions and guidelines would remain in effect through the July 4 Independence Day holiday. An evaluation is set to take place following the holiday weekend, to determine if health restrictions may be maintained, potentially increased, or perhaps relaxed to allow broader use of the public facilities.
At present, Sierra County’s Elephant Butte Lake State Park (EBLSP), Caballo Lake State Park and Percha Dam State Park are all welcoming day-use visitors. The following limitations and restrictions are in place for these Sierra County facilities and for most others around the state.
•Camping and overnight use are prohibited.
•Parks are open for day use only and a day use fee of $5 per vehicle is in place at most facilities.
•Day use activities have been designated at boating, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing and picnicking in “small” groups. Within EBLSP and other state parks, groups should be limited to no more than five individuals and a six-foot distance between individuals should be maintained.
•Playgrounds and some designated swimming areas are closed.
•Until further notice, group shelters, visitors centers, park offices, comfort stations, RV dump stations and other special use facilities will also remain closed. Due to the closure of visitors centers, credit card payment services may not be available at all parks or facilities. Patrons are being encouraged to pay cash and if possible to utilize exact change for day-use fees.
Operational details and information concerning specific state parks and/or facilities may be obtained through the NMSP’s website (http://www.emnrd.state.us/SPD/). Park guests are encouraged to contact the facility they may be planning on visiting to confirm operating hours, park occupancy or added health restrictions, and any other special notifications that may be applicable. Park patrons are being encouraged to utilize masks during face-to-face interaction and to practice social distancing whenever possible, as well as to bring hand sanitizers and other personal protection items to ensure hygiene.