A man-made lake created on Seneca Creek and surrounded by grasslands. This is the largest lake in Union County and often remains at least partially ice free during the entire winter. The lake and surrounding cliffs/hillsides are managed by New Mexico State Parks. Hillsides surrounding the lake are covered with junipers and shrubs, providing a "different than usual" habitat.

Along the spillway, more than 500 dinosaur footprints have been preserved and identified. Plant-eating and carnivorous dinosaurs, as well as some ancient crocodiles, made these prints.

Directions: Clayton Lake State Park is 12 miles north of Clayton via NM 370.

Ornithological Summary

The 170-acre lake is a waterfowl resting area in winter, when fishing is prohibited. New Mexico State Parks manages the park for the benefit of birds as well as people. Waterfowl, primarily Canada Goose and Mallard, in winter of 1996 through 2000 averaged 6500 with a maximum of 9410. Both Trumpeter Swan and Tundra Swan have been seen at the lake during the Christmas Bird Counts. A bird list is available and was derived from observations made during the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count in 2001 and 2002.

Sources: Clayton CBC (NMCL)


The lake and surrounding area is owned by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and is a Wildlife Management Area. It is operated by New Mexico State Parks, 141 Clayton Lake Road, Clayton NM 88415, 505-374-8808.

Land Use

State park include boating, camping, picnicing, hiking.

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