Outdoors At Santa Cruz Lake

by Staff Reporter / May 27, 2017 / comments
Santa Cruz Lake is full and has been well-stocked with rainbow trout. The lake covers 121 acres. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Outdoors At Santa Cruz Lake

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The water in Santa Cruz Lake is going over the spillway right now as the irrigation season ramps up in the fields and orchards around Chimayo. Santa Cruz has been heavily stocked this spring and the fishing should be good over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

The lake was created in 1929 by the Santa Cruz Irrigation District and it is now managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It covers 121 acres when full and impounds the water from the Santa Cruz River.

The water is going over the spillway at Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo. The dam was originally constructed in 1929 by the Santa CruzIrrigation district to store irrigation water for the surrounding area. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

In addition to being well-stocked with rainbow trout, the lake has a naturally-reproducing population of brown trout. Although the majority of the trout caught at the lake will be 10-12 inch hatchery rainbow trout, Santa Cruz can produce some real lunkers. Trout over 10 pounds have been pulled from the lake’s fertile waters.

In 1999, anglers were stunned when a state-record rainbow trout of over 31 pounds was caught by local fisherman Peter Romero. The behemoth trout shattered the previous state record by nearly 15 pounds.

Daniel Guilford of Albuquerque with a nice rainbow trout caught at Santa Cruz Lake.​ Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

In addition to the fishing, Santa Cruz Lake offers overnight camping and several hiking trails traverse the shoreline. Cottonwood trees close to the water’s edge provide shade. There is a concrete boat ramp on the north side of the lake, which is accessed by a winding road from State Road 503 near Cundiyo. In addition to the boat-launching facilities at the North Shore, there are camping facilities at the Overlook Campground on a bluff located at the south side of the lake, also accessed  from State Road 503. A trail from the Overlook winds down to the lake near the inlet of the Santa Cruz River.

The newly-renovated parking area on the North Side of the lake was opened in 2015 as part of a $2 million renovation project to improve recreational facilities at the lake. The paved parking lot can accommodate larger vehicles and those towing boat trailers.

There is a camping area on the North Shore that was part of the renovation project. It is currently still undergoing construction and is not open.

Day passes are $5 and camping fees are $7 for the Overlook. A state fishing license is required.