Discover the Lowest Point in New Mexico

New Mexico flag map
© Darwinek / CC BY-SA 3.0

Written by Rob Amend

Published: August 23, 2023

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New Mexico is a dry, rugged, mountainous state. The air is dry and hot as a desert state, though the mountains provide a cooler alternative to the heat at lower altitudes. What little water makes its way to the lower elevations of the state finds its way to rivers, carving valleys, canyons, and ravines. The lowest point in New Mexico receives some of that water as it travels into Texas.

The Lowest Point in New Mexico

The lowest point in New Mexico is Red Bluff Reservoir, at 2,842 feet. It is an artificial lake resulting from the damming of the Pecos River. The northern end of the reservoir is in New Mexico, while the bulk of the reservoir itself is in Texas. Though the north end is the lowest point in New Mexico, a Texas water control district operates the reservoir. Due to the elevation of the state, New Mexico’s low point doesn’t cause extreme temperatures like Death Valley in California.

Red Bluff Reservoir

Red Bluff Reservoir is New Mexico’s lowest point.

©NASA / public domain – Original / License

History of Red Bluff Reservoir

The Red Bluff Water Control District dammed the Pecos River in 1936. The project’s purpose was to provide hydroelectric power and irrigation to the population of Texas. Many people also use the resulting lake for recreation. The Public Works Administration approved the project in 1933. Construction began in 1934. Authorities flooded the reservoir in July 1937. This was at the height of the Dust Bowl and during the Great Depression when water and employment were sorely needed.

About the Pecos River

The Pecos River is a storied river of the West. The river begins in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, northeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It flows out of the mountains, then through New Mexico and West Texas to empty into the Rio Grande near Del Rio. It is at the border shared by New Mexico and Texas that Red Bluff Reservoir was formed.

pecos river

The historic Pecos River begins just northeast of Santa Fe and flows into Texas, filling the Red Bluff Reservoir.

©Jared_campbell/iStock via Getty Images

Things To Do at Red Bluff Reservoir

Red Bluff Reservoir is known for its fishing, which can be done by boat or shore. There is only a rough boat ramp on the New Mexico side. Boats can be pushed out from the shore. The reservoir is stocked with white bass and striped hybrid bass. Anglers need a Texas fishing license to fish at Red Bluff. Hiking and bird watching are also popular around Red Bluff.

Where Red Bluff Reservoir Is on a Map

Wildlife Around Red Bluff Reservoir

With the popularity of fishing in Red Bluff Reservoir, it’s no surprise that you can find game fish within its waters. White, hybrid striped, and largemouth bass are the most popular.

The bird population around the reservoir includes killdeer, Clarke’s grebe, yellow-headed blackbird, snowy plover, turkey vulture, western grebe, mourning dove, great blue heron, redhead, and the ruddy duck.

The terrain around Red Bluff Reservoir is sparse, but the deserts are teeming with wildlife. The habitat is particularly favorable to mule deer, coyotes, red foxes, gray foxes, peccaries, and rattlesnakes.

Clark’s Grebe

Red Bluff Reservoir is home to a variety of waterfowl.

©Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

Conclusion

Red Bluff Reservoir may be New Mexico’s lowest point, but it isn’t that low! It is the third-highest low point of the 50 states, trailing only Colorado and Wyoming. It is higher than 19 of the 50 states’ highest points.


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About the Author

Rob Amend is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily covering meteorology, geology, geography, and animal oddities. He attained a Master's Degree in Library Science in 2000 and served as reference librarian in an urban public library for 22 years. Rob lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, photography, woodworking, listening to classic rock, and watching classic films—his favorite animal is a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey.

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