A picturesque lake set among the tall pines of northern New Mexico, Heron Lake 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.
Heron also has amazing sailing, cross-country skiing, and hiking. Heron is a fisherman’s paradise with record-size trout and kokanee salmon.
Ice fishing is very popular in winter.
Several campgrounds line the shore of this scenic lake with primitive and developed campsites are available for every taste.
Wonderful lake with 6,000-acre normal surface acres . Heron lake has approximately 35 miles of shoreline. Maximum depth at the dam is 215 feet when full and 142 feet at minimum storage level (7,186 feet elevation). Lake is restricted to sailing and no-wake speed operation of motorboats.
Heron Lake is a scenic lake area that is ideal for kayaking, sailing and windsurfing, as well as fishing for record-size trout.
Heron Lake offers two major events each summer: the annual Osprey Fest scheduled in July with live raptors, a wine and cheese reception and opportunities to view several osprey nesting sites; and the Paddle Power Festival in August, a gathering of kayak and canoe enthusiasts.
Heron Lake provides a takeout point alternative to ending at El Vado Lake for the La Puente Rio Chama Run (Los Ojos to El Vado Lake Run).
The normal 15 miles takes boaters through a deep wooded canyon with numerous rapids. If the start is at the NM 95 bridge there will be fences and a diversion to handle according to accounts. Off NM 112 between Los Ojos and Tierra Amarilla is a dirt road heading north that provides a low water crossing of the Rio Chama and is an alternative put in. Into the canyon there is the first rapid on a tight turn being a large boulder dividing the river called Lunch Rock and then below it the most challenging known as Big Mama Chama, a Class III strewn with boulders. There is another Class II just above Heron Dam. It is then 4 miles of Class I all the way to El Vado with then the the long lake push to the takeout.
The alternative takeout at about 10 miles for paddle craft contains a hike out with your craft that includes a stairway on a hiking trail part of the Dominguez-Escalante Trail aka Old Spanish Trail (which connects El Vado to Heron Lake) from the Rio Chama Suspension Foot Bridge.