Cochiti Lake

Description: Cochiti Lake is located in Sandoval County, New Mexico and within the boundaries of the Pueblo de Cochiti Nation on the Rio Grande about 50 miles upstream from Albuquerque. Popular lake for daysailing, quiet fishing, kayaking and windsurfing.  At high water the Rio Grande becomes boatablewith shallow craft up to Sanchez Canyon.  Motorboats at idle speed "no wake" operation only. Paddleboat operators running the White Rock Canyon-Rio Grande Class II-III stretch from Los Alamos/Santa Fe to Cochiti Lake sometime make arrangements first with a boater at Cochiti before running the river in order to avoid the flatwater paddle of the lake once reaching the lake.

Cochiti Lake offers two public recreation areas ; the Cochiti Recreation Area on the west side of the lake and the Tetilla Peak Recreation on the east side. The west side of the lake is seeing a substantial change with a new campground being readied for late 2009. A mast step-up facility was added in 2008 for the west side of the lake.

Each recreation area has a boat ramp for launching vessels. The west side visitor center is open to the public near the Park Headquarters. Scenic overlooks are on both sides of the lake. The Pueblo de Cochiti operated and maintained a small marina (not open currently) on the Cochiti side of the lake. This marina is now entirely gone and replacement is questionable at this time though dry storage at the Cochiti Lake store is still available.  Tetilla is only open from April to October.

Please be aware that all areas outside of the two recreation areas are lands owned by the Cochiti Pueblo and are not open to the public.

Directions: About 60 miles NE of Albuquerque 

From Albuquerque take I-25 north from Albuquerque, NM to the 259 exit, west on NM 22 through Peña Blanca to the Project Office.

From Santa Fe, NM to the 264 exit, west on NM 16 and then right at the stop sign at NM 22, then up to the Project Office.

Map:  Downloadable Map         Lake Map   pdf                

Water Sports:  Fishing, paddlesports, Sailing (mast tip up facility on site), Windsurfing, and swimming.

Rio Grande Paddling: At this point the Pueblo does not allow non-official non-Pueblo member access to their land or Rio Grande river bank in unless otherwise approved.  Cultural change from the dam was not welcomed by the Pueblo and the Council as of 2009 are not welcoming of cultural tourism and river floating.

Above the Dam:The USACE has secured public access to much of that property so there has been navigation from the Buckman or Otowi bridge areas down to Cochiti reservoir .  The Corps, Pueblo, NPS and Forest Service do not allow camping on the banks of any of that stretch. Los Alamos has a stretch that is suitable on the west bank and BLM has primitive sites used on the east bank.

Below the Dam: There are no public access points to the river below or downstream of the dam (even near Army Corps facilities).  So the stretch of river on Cochiti land below the dam is inaccessible and therefore no river navigation theoretically should occur. 

Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, Pueblo de Cochiti (505) 465-3123 voice (505) 465-1997 fax


Ramps: 2

One at Tetilla Peak Recreation Site Concrete two lane.

One at the Main Recreation Area Concrete four lane.

Docks: 2,  One at each area.

Marinas:  Cochiti Marina.  One quiet area popular with day sailors. Currently not operational by the Cochiti Pueblo. Check with them for reopening. Cochiti Pueblo Lands - Cochiti Lake Recreation (505) 465-2244.

In the meanwhile a group of boaters there have gotten together and formed a non-profit called Boat Owners of Cochiti. This group may work to reopen the marina with public support.

There is also a dry dock facility outside of the park behind the Cochiti Town Store and Gas Station.

The dry dock storage is run by a Cochiti Pueblo Corporation CCDC (Cochiti Community Development Corporation).  They can be reached at 465-2219. 

Wind Warning Lights 2

Prevailing Winds:    Current wind conditions: Cochiti Lake, New Mexico (toll free) 888-700-9279, 505-465-0973

Fish: Warm Water Fishery with bass, walleye, pike, catfish, perch, carp and crappie.

Special Boating Considerations: New Mexico State Parks boating regulations 16.3 Cochiti Lake: Motorized boating activity is limited to no-wake operation only. "Wake" means white water created from wave action breaking off the bow or sides of a vessel.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Requirements for Boating.

  • All vessels must carry a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket for each person on board, plus one U.S. Coast Guard approved throwable floatation device (cushion or ring buoy). These must be in serviceable condition and readily accessible.
  • Keep at least 300 feet away from the control tower.
  • No person shall operate any motorboat or vessel, nor use any surfboard or similar device, while under the influence of alcohol and/or controlled substance. Alcohol is totally prohibited anywhere within the Corps of Engineers properties.
  • No person under the age of 13 shall operate a motor-boat unless under the onboard supervision of an adult.
  • Be aware of changing weather and water conditions, and be prepared to act if conditions become hazardous. When winds of 15-20 mph are forecast or blowing, small craft (boats under 16') are cautioned to stay off of the lake. Wind driven waves usually are worst for these craft when coming up the lake.  See map for location of wind warning lights.
  • Never allow people to ride on the bow, seat backs, or gunwales of a vessel. Boater's legs shall not hang overboard at any time.


  • You should never depend on inflatable or foam toys, rafts, or inner tubes to keep yourself afloat. If they are punctured, or if you fall off, you are in immediate danger. The wind direction and speed changes suddenly at Cochiti Lake. Persons using floatation toys may suddenly be blown into deep water.
  • It is mandatory to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when using any type of floatation device.
  • Swim at your own risk. No lifeguards are on duty.
  • The swimming area is located by an access turnoff to the left before going down the boat ramp access.  This road winds its way toward the dam area and a now developed swim area.


  • Accessed from Tetilla Peak Recreation Site (See the Map) the access to the windsurfing point is on a dirt road near the bottom of the Tetilla Boat Ramp heading along the shore on an unimproved road towards the dam.
  • It is mandatory to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when using any type of floatation device including a windsurf board.  Suggest that an investment in an manual inflatable waist worn life jacket be made if a wetsuit is also worn.  During the summer with warmer water temps a manual inflatable life jacket can be used.

Service Boats: Closest boat servicing is in Santa Fe.  Fueling is available just outside the park at the Cochiti Town Service Station and Launderette.

Land Information: Cochiti Dam is one of the four Corps of Engineers projects for flood and sediment control on the Rio Grande, operating in conjunction with Abiquiu, Galisteo and Jemez Canyon Dams.

Phone: (505) 465-0307

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