This very popular state park, on the edge of the Elephant Butte reservoir, is a great wintertime get away. We spent the winter solstice here and woke up at sunrise to see the moon setting in the west and the sun rising in the east. Spectacular!
The campground offers many reservable spots, as well as first-come, first-served sites. Each site has water, electric, picnic table (with sunshade) and a fire ring. The bathrooms are either vault toilets or full service with showers. There are no trees for privacy, but the sites are nicely spaced apart so you don't feel like you are on top of your neighbors.
Now, we don’t normally get critical of other reviews on this site. But some were very negative about the bathrooms, and we simply cannot understand why. The bathrooms were heated, the toilets were clean, as were the showers. The water was warm! Yes, these showers are the push-button type which only gives you a minute or so of water before you push it again. However, the showers were free with the campsite, which only costs $14 (2018) and is in the desert! Water is a precious resource here, so you can’t get your nose out of joint over decisions made by management to limit water consumption when you’re only paying this little.
During the summer months when the reservoir is up to recreational levels, boating and fishing are the most popular activities. Judging by the size of the boat-launch parking lot, you’re going to have to get up early in the morning to grab a spot. There is a great hiking and mountain biking trail right out of the campground which winds between all the other park roads, picnic areas and amenities on the western side of the lake. The trail is relatively new and in most areas is graveled. However, rainstorms have washed a lot of sand across the trail in areas and it can be pretty soft. Further south along the trail we encountered many more arroyos which upped the challenge. The nice thing is that you can always hop back on the pavement to return to the campground.
The town of Elephant Butte is nearby which offers a few restaurants, a general store, and gas. But just 15 miles south is the larger town of Truth or Consequences (interesting story about the name). This town has everything you might need, grocery, gas, food and other lodging….and hot springs! Check out our blog for more details about the latter.
There is a 7 mile curvy road from I25 exit 89 to the Monticello campsite but once you are there, you will discover a quiet site, spaced apart from your neighbors with a beautiful view of the lake. No stores nearby so go in fully stocked. Each campsite has water and electricity, a dump is easy to utilize on your way out. There is a boat ramp available, showers in the main restrooms and adequate cell coverage.