Pagosa Country is the place for fans of water fun. Navajo Lake is a summer recreation paradise for boating, camping, fishing, hiking, water skiing and wind surfing. The lake is less than an hour’s drive from Pagosa Springs and extends 20 miles into New Mexico, with 15,000 surface acres of water. 

Fed by the Piedra, San Juan and Pine rivers, Navajo Lake is a wonderful getaway for locals and visitors alike. Getting there is easy, via a relatively short and scenic drive through tall ponderosas and pinon pine country. From Pagosa Springs, travel west on U.S. 160 approximately 17 miles, until you see the spires of Chimney Rock, the site of ancestral Puebloan ruins, and turn south on Colo. 151. From that point on, enjoy the scenery as the 20-minute trip winds through the lower Piedra River Valley to the friendly town of Arboles and on to Navajo State Park. When you reach Arboles, turn left (southeast) on County Road 982, and it’s a quick two miles to the park’s Visitor Center. 

Navajo Lake Marina has almost everything for boating and water skiing enthusiasts. The marina has boat slips and mooring buoys for rent as well as a restroom on the dock. A 200-foot breakwater protects one of the longest boat ramps in the state. Boat rentals are also available. For information and reservations, contact the marina at (970) 883-BOAT (2628). 

While campsite reservations are not required, campgrounds can fill up during busy summer weekends and holidays, so a reservation is never a bad idea. Campground reservations can be made no more than six months in advance on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at cpw.state.co.us or by calling (800) 678-2267 toll-free. 

A valid Colorado State Parks Pass is required for all motor vehicles entering the park and for travel in all park grounds surrounding Navajo Lake. Daily permits cost $9 per vehicle. An annual pass is $80 and Colorado seniors 64 and older can purchase an Aspen Leaf annual pass for $70. A transferable hangtag annual pass is available for $120. Annual passes are good for all 41 Colorado State Parks. 

Whether you’re camping, boating, fishing or just spending a sunny day by the water, be sure to visit the “Watchable Wildlife” observation deck, located where Colo. 151 crosses the Piedra River. From the deck, visitors may see mule deer, elk, foxes, coyotes, bears, rare river otters, bald eagles, waterfowl and migratory birds. 

The lake itself contains a variety of cold- and warm-water game fish. Prized brown trout, rainbow trout and crappie thrive in the cold waters. Navajo has also become well known to bass fishermen throughout the southwest, since its warm surface waters harbor largemouth and smallmouth bass. Bluegill and catfish are also plentiful. 

Trotlines are allowed at the lake, but they must conform to Colorado fishing regulations.

The northern part of Navajo Lake lies in Colorado where valid Colorado fishing licenses are required for anglers. Colorado licenses are available at the Visitor Center. If anglers cross south into New Mexico, they need to have a valid New Mexico state fishing license, which can also be purchased at the Visitor Center. Anglers without a boat can access excellent fishing spots on the rivers feeding the lake. Ample parking is located within walking distance of many fishing spots. A fully accessible fishing area is located on the Piedra River just west of Colo. 151.

As a gateway to one of southwest Colorado’s finest recreational waters, Arboles has a gas station, cafe, convenience store, motel and post office in addition to boat storage and RV parks.

Check The Pagosa Springs SUN for details about upcoming events and activities.

For additional information and updates on park improvements, call the Navajo State Park office at (970) 883-2208 or visit cpw.state.co.us.