We had gone into the small visitor center at Sumner Lake State Park to see if they had any maps of hiking trails. I browsed the one display that explained the history of the area and then went to the counter to check out the maps and brochures. I glanced down and was surprised to see a map of Alamogordo Lake. I lived in Alamogordo for 15 years but had never heard of Alamogordo Lake.
I should have looked closer at the information on the history display. In answer to my question, the ranger came out from behind the counter and pointed me to the paragraph on the display outlining how the park came into being.
In the 1930’s the US Bureau of Reclamation built a dam where the Pecos River and Alamogordo Creek converged. The lake and surrounding area was established as Alamogordo Lake State Park in 1965. But the town of Alamogordo in south-central New Mexico was becoming more well-known and, since it was nowhere near Alamogordo Lake, to avoid confusion, the name was changed to Sumner Lake after nearby Fort Sumner. An interesting bit of history to add to this day’s exploration of Sumner Lake State Park.
On one of our trips to Texas several years ago we had taken the 7-mile detour off of Highway 84 to see the lake, but we hadn’t spent any time there. This week, after a long hiatus from tent camping we decided it was time to dig out the camping gear and see if we remembered all the details required to set up camp in one of New Mexico’s isolated locations. Although it’s only 2 1/2 hours from Albuquerque, Lake Sumner certainly qualifies in the isolation department.
The wind had started to pick up in the afternoon when we were ready to look for a campsite. The larger campgrounds were by the lake but we knew it would be less windy down by the river. Two small campgrounds, one on each side of the river are nestled in amongst the cottonwoods, just below the outlet from the dam. We could hear the rush of water from the spillway throughout the night; not exactly a natural waterfall but soothing, nevertheless. And, best of all, we were the only campers on either side of the river, making for a peaceful and quiet night.
In the morning it was a short walk up the road to get to the top of the dam, where we could look down at our campsite. We had chosen the west side of the river so that we would be first to get the morning sun.