Cooling off at a lakeside destination is like a dream come true when the peak heat of summer rolls around. There are a wide range of lakeside venues to choose from out west, so finding a cozy spot that suits the fancy is easy to do. The distances to lake destinations can be quite lengthy out west, so figuring some extra travel time into the picture is necessary. In most cases a western lake venture is planned as a week long vacation as a minimum, especially when boating is involved, because the travel time and maintenance hours can really add up.
There are some "all in one" lakeside destinations out west that are managed as a recreation area, campground and boat launch for aquatic sports. These kind of places certainly are convenient, because all that a visitor has to do is make a campsite reservation, show up and launch the boat in the water, before hooking the RV up at the camp pad. For many vacationers, the lakeside recreation areas are like a favorite home away from home that they visit year after year.
The total package style lakeside recreation areas tend to be State Parks, BLM or National Forest Recreation Areas in most cases. Tetilla Peak is one of a few exceptions to the rule. This New Mexico lakeside recreation area is actually managed by the Army Corps Of Engineers, which is the workforce that built many civil project dams throughout the west. Even though the Santa Fe National Forest is right next door, the Tetilla Peak Recreation Area is managed by this agency and the difference in management style can be noticed.
The Tetilla Peak Recreation Area is an Army Corps Of Engineers Property that is managed in conjunction with Pueblo Cochiti, so some local rules apply. Since the entire Tent Rock National Monument region is under tribal jurisdiction, the same rules apply to the Tetilla Peak Recreation Area. What this all means is the campground is very well organized, the grounds are spotless, there are security guards and absolutely no alcoholic beverages are allowed. This is a bit different management style than what is found in a National Forest and it may be a sobering thought for some. Even so, with no alcohol comes plenty of peace and quiet, which is what most people seek.
The Rio Grande River feeds Cochiti Lake, so going upstream from Tetilla Peak to do some fishing can be done. Cochiti Lake is stocked with bass and walleye, so the sport fishing is good as long as there are no big algae blooms. Toxic algae blooms have been a problem here because of river water depletion and fertilizer runoff, so it is best to check on the conditions ahead of time. If I recall correctly, fishing licenses can be purchased on site, but the sure bet is in town on the other side of the dam. Supplies and fuel can be found locally too.
Paddle boarding and wind surfing are actually the two most popular activities at Cochiti Lake. Of course camping with a great sunset view is part of the program too. Best still, by camping at Tetilla Peak, it is easy to get an early start on the day when visiting the neighboring Tent Rocks National Monument. This convenience is what makes this recreation area a top choice when doing the tour.
By my own experience, getting an early start for a Tent Rocks National Monument venture is the best way to go, because the waiting line to get in this park can be extremely long before midmorning on an average summer day. This is because only a limited amount of visitors are allowed in Tent Rocks at a time and the rest have to wait in their cars outside the entrance gate. I left early enough to be third in line before the park gates opened and after being there for less than five minutes, the line of cars grew to nearly a quarter mile long. The early bird definitely gets the worm when camping at Tetilla Peak!
For those who have been seeking a lakeside recreation area that offers plenty to see and do, Tetilla Peak is well worth checking out. This recreation area is only open during the long summer season and it is the best spot for a basecamp when touring Tent Rocks and Pueblo Cochiti. The sunsets at Cochiti Lake are as dramatic as can be and when the fishing is good, it does not get any better than this!
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