Our great outdoors: A look at 10 state parks located in the northwest portion of NM

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Hyde Memorial State Park is a short drive from Santa Fe and offers excellent group facilities and campsites. (Cathryn Cunningham/Journal)

Editor’s note: Second in a series as the Journal looks around the map at New Mexico’s state parks.

New Mexico is comprised of 121,697 square miles.

With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s easy for New Mexicans to get out of the house and visit an area around the state.

Luckily there are 35 state parks, which can be pure fun to explore.

Here’s a list of the parks located in the northwest quadrant of the state.

Bluewater Lake State Park

This serene lake, located 25 miles west of Grants, is set in a pinyon-juniper landscape with views towards the Zuni Mountains. The park offers camping, hiking, birding, horseback riding and fishing. Park height: 7,554 feet.

Cerrillos Hills State Park

A year-round, day-use park located off the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Cross paths with over 1,100 years of mining history along the five miles of trails. Park elevation: 5,900-6,100 feet.

El Vado Lake State Park

Located in New Mexico’s northern mountains, it offers fishing, boating, camping and hiking. A 5.5-mile scenic trail along the Rio Chama connects El Vado with nearby Heron Lake. Park height: 7,209 feet.

parkFenton Lake State Park

The Jemez Mountains provide the backdrop for this stunning year-round retreat surrounded by beautiful ponderosa pine forests. The Rio Cebolla flows through the park and there is a fishing and canoeing lake too. Park elevator: 7,650 feet.

Heron Lake State Park

A picturesque lake set among the tall pines of northern New Mexico, it has been designated a “quiet lake” where boats operate at no-wake speeds only, making it an excellent location for all types of paddle craft. Park height: 7,167 feet.

Hyde Memorial State Park

It is the first state park is set in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains amongst a forest of pines along Little Tesuque Creek. The park is a short drive from Santa Fe and offers excellent group facilities and campsites. Park elevation: 8,300-9,400 feet.

Manzano Mountains State Park

Manzano Mountains State Park is an excellent destination for hiking and camping. Nestled in the wooded foothills of the Manzanos, this park provides a quiet retreat, wildlife viewing, birding and photography. Park elevator: 7,250 feet.

Navajo Lake State Park

Navajo Lake is the second largest lake in the state, with multiple campgrounds, two marinas, and two boat docks. The San Juan River is a world-class fly fishing destination. Park elevation: 5,600—6,600 feet.

Pecos Canyon State Park

New Mexico’s 35th state park, is near the Pecos Wilderness of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in north central NM The newly created state park is currently under development and will offer fishing, camping and hiking. Park elevation: 7,628-8,196 feet.

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park

Located on the Rio Grande flyway, the park offers excellent birdwatching opportunities throughout the year. There are indoor and outdoor wildlife viewing areas overlooking ponds, a native plant garden. The park is day-use only, no camping. Leashed pets are allowed in the parking area and on adjacent city trails only. Park height: 4,968 feet.