Elephant Butte Lake State Park
33.296153° -107.176068° 4,390' MSL PPG only at this time. S. Monticello Campground & Boat Ramp – electric and water hookups are available but no sewer. A dump station is provided nearby for convenience. Rates are $14/day. For more info and to make reservations online, go here. When flying in the Park, STAY AWAY FROM ALL CAMPS, RV PARKS, AND BOATS. It is against FAA regulations to fly over any congested area (i.e. over people at any height). Do NOT fly during quiet hours which are 10PM to 7AM.
USHPA required notification: The RGSA and Southwest Airsports recommend that you do not fly at this site as it is not a chapter managed site. If you do choose to fly at this site, you must take full responsibility for your actions, and recognize that you are fully and solely liable for any damage incurred by yourself, to others, or to others’ property. This site is unimproved with significant safety issues, including potentially challenging wind and thermal conditions. Flying at this site can be risky to the pilot, property owners, and our sport as a whole. This site is unpermitted, uninsured, unmanaged, and unimproved.
Flying above or at the edge of the lake ensures smooth air during the day even from the late spring to the early fall. The cool lake surface suppresses thermal formation and is an area of great sink. These factors ensure calm air making it easy and fun to fly in. Pilots will immediately notice the change in air as they venture inland during hot days. At the extremes of the day, pilots can safely leave the lake area.
With the water very low in the lake, there are numerous boat ramps that are temporarily closed but provide outstanding launch areas for PPG. The launch below is workable with winds from east to south. The broad and sloping concrete ramp has good footing and is free of sand, rocks, and obstacles in front. The closer to the lake a pilot launches, the smoother and more steady the air will be.
View below is east. Pilots can launch crosswind near the bottom of the ramp into winds more from the south.
Pilots should land upwind on the beach if flying during the heat of the day. During the summer months, density altitude and high temperatures combine to negatively affect paramotor performance. Please keep this in mind!
Pilots Lee Boone and Had Robinson have both experienced "inversion surfing." This is the phenomena when there is an inversion over the lake and winds aloft are strong. The fast moving upper air contacts the edge of the cold inversion over the lake and is deflected up. Lift can be a few hundred feet per second or more and is soarable.
View below is southeast – there is plenty of room to run with sure footing and no obstacles.
It is always tempting to launch from the roads or areas inland but it can be risky to do so because of numerous obstacles and the presence of powerful thermals that can make the air gusty and switchy during most of the day.
Below – the east shore of the lake towards the north end. This side of the lake has smoother air because the west facing hills and buttes tend to draw the cold lake air in more strongly than the flatter west side of the lake.
It is easy to see the wind direction on the surface of the lake.
Fly safely and be sure to stay away from the campgrounds.