Abiquiu Lake is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District’s northern most flood control reservoir in the state of New Mexico. Abiquiu Lake sits placidly between the rugged Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountain ranges of northern New Mexico. At an elevation of 6,400 feet, the project rests comfortably within the Piñon Pine/Juniper life zone, and is possibly the highest reservoir in the Corps of Engineers. It is part of a comprehensive flood and sediment control plan for the Rio Chama-Rio Grande Basins. The 2,860 acre project is 1,621 miles upstream from where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Abiquiu Lake is fed a diet of cold, clear, transmountain water which is diverted from the San Juan Mountains in south-central Colorado, and piped under the continental divide into the Rio Chama approximately forty-seven pristine miles upstream from the project.
Towering 340 feet above the Rio Chama, Abiquiu Dam is the tallest earthen structure in New Mexico, but is dwarfed by the nearby 9,862 Cerro Pedernal Peak. This flat-topped sentinel dominates the landscape of Abiquiu, and is composed mostly of flint-a metamorphic rock which for centuries has been used to start fire-hence the name. Standing on Pedernal’s summit, where the sun on your face shines with unimaginable intensity, Abiquiu Lake appears far below as a brilliant blue opal, in stark contrast to the high desert surrounding it. Cerro Pedernal is perhaps best immortalized in the drawings and paintings by one of the region’s most well known residents-artist Georgia O’Keefe. She was profoundly influenced by the natural beauty and isolation of Abiquiu and her paintings of the Rio Chama and the dusty red and maroon foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains hang on the walls of prestigious art galleries in Santa Fe, New York and around the world.
Picnic facilities are available under the trees along the river at the Rio Chama Recreation Area. Facilities are also available with a view of the lake at Cerrito Recreation Area and the Overlook. Each site has a picnic table, barbeque, and shade shelter.
Areas available for swimming are within the Cerrito Recreation Area. The High Water Cove is closed to motorized vessels and has a gentle slope for young swimmers. The main boat ramp area has picnic tables, shade shelters, barbeques, and a smaller cove restricting motorized vessels.