Clayton Lake

Distance: 12 Miles
Contact: Charles Jordan
Hours of Operation: 24 Hours
Fees: $5 / per vehicle  Camping Fee: $8 - $14

ClaytonLake1Clayton Lake State Park is located 15 miles north of Clayton, close to New Mexico’s border with Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. The landscape is characterized by rolling grasslands, volcanic rocks and sandstone bluffs. Set on the western edge of the Great Plains, it was a stopover point for travelers along the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. The park also features an astronomy observatory.  Visitors today can enjoy picnicking, camping, and superb fishing at the park’s 170-acre lake, as well as view one of the most extensive dinosaur trackways in North America.

The Park
ClaytonLake2Clayton Lake was created by the State Game and Fish Department in 1955 as a fishing lake and winter waterfowl resting area. A dam was constructed across Seneca Creek, which is actually a series of seeps except after heavy rains. During the fishing season, which usually runs from March to October each year, the lake is a popular spot for anglers hoping to catch trout, catfish, bass and walleye. Boats are allowed on the lake, but are restricted to trolling speeds. The lake is closed to fishing during the winter, when it serves as a stopover for waterfowl. Several duck species including mallards, pintails, and teals frequent the lake, and Canadian geese and bald eagles are often seen here.

The park offers camping and picnicking facilities, a group shelter, and a modern comfort station. The dinosaur tracks are located on the dam spillway, at the end of a gentle half mile trail. Best times to view the tracks are in the morning and late afternoon. A sheltered gazebo and boardwalk trail along the trackway provide extensive information regarding the dinosaurs who traveled here so long ago.

10th Annual Clayton Lake Trout Derby
Clayton Lake Trout DerbyThe Derby will be held on June 5-6, 2010.  To register, call the Chamber of Commerce at (800) 390-7858 or (575) 374-9253.  You may also print out a registration form by clicking here:  2010 Trout Derby Registration Form
The form must be returned with entry fee to the Clayton-Union County Chamber of Commerce office, P.O. Box 476, Clayton, NM 88415, or you may enter the Derby on Saturday morning at the lake.