A few reasons to sail at Heron Lake, New Mexico, USA
17. Heron Lake has all the basics for sailing, including a marina, dry storage, concrete boat ramps, and a very solid sailboat mast raising pole, yet it's missing one thing: crowds.
16. With minimal light pollution in the region and a high mountain location (7100 ft. elevation), Heron Lake has beautiful sunsets and sunrises and gorgeous clear skies for stargazing.
15. The new owners of the Stone House Lodge still offer great desserts following Marilyn Morrison's traditions and the High Country in Chama has live bands and great food.
14. If you'd like to combine sailing with angling, Heron Lake is unique in being the southernmost point in our country with ongoing populations of cold water fish, such as Lake Trout and Kokanee Salmon.
13. Recreation in the area is varied, including paddling on Heron, taking a raft trip down the Rio Chama in the canyons below El Vado lake, horse riding, mountain climbing, hunting, and snow skiing at Wolf Creek Pass or Taos.
12. Heron Lake is a no-wake lake, but El Vado lake is only a few miles away to satisfy the go-fast motor buffs if your group has a mixture of sailors and mosquito boat drivers.
11. Sailors who want to cruise can journey to Wind Warning Island or put out the hook in one of the more remote northwestern coves.
10. History and culture buffs can enjoy the scenic steam-driven Cumbres & Toltec Railroad, local weaving and art galleries, Native American dances and pow wows. (One side of Heron Lake State Park is bounded by the Jicarilla Apache nation.)
9. Heron Lake is a mecca for wildlife fans, with ospreys (fish hawks), bald eagles, mountain lions, bears, elk, bobcats, foxes, porcupines, mule deer, great horned owls, herons, beaver, muskrats, Canada geese, cliff swallows, and plenty of other creatures around.
8. There is little danger of America's Cup lawyers interfering with any regattas in New Mexico.
7. The New Mexico Sailing Club owns and operates the Heron Lake Marina as a co-op and keeps moorage costs rock-bottom cheap, with slips for around $500 for the six-month season, along with social activities and a gathering place under the floating marina pavilion. Visitor slips are only $10 per night.
6. The New Mexico Sailing Club offers reciprocal hospitality (two nights free, half price remainder of the week) to visiting sailors from other yacht and sailing clubs, making a great bargain even better.
5. A thousand people in Heron Lake State Park on the fourth of July or Labor Day weekends would be an enormous crowd. Peace and solitude are readily available here.
4. New Mexico's no-wake Heron Lake is one of the largest such lakes anywhere, creating a wonderful haven for sailors, kayakers, anglers, and nature lovers.
3. New Mexico's lakes are at a diverse range of altitudes at climate zones, allowing for near year-round sailing.
2. The challenging wind conditions force sailors to be alert and opportunistic in making use of wind when they get it. Tacking up the Narrows will focus your crew as its quirks give them a wake-up call.
1. There are no Great White sharks to chomp on unwary dinghy sailors.