TABB - Colorado Navajo State Park

GPS Location: 37.023900, -107.420214

(turn to the Park entrance from Hwy 151)


Miles from Chama: 83.09 Miles

Miles from Durango: 39.87 Miles

By Zenhaus [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Navajo State Park is a state park of Colorado, USA, on the north shore of Navajo Lake. Touted as Colorado's answer to Lake Powell, this reservoir on the San Juan River begins in Colorado's San Juan Mountains and extends 20 miles (32 km) into New Mexico. Its area is 15,000 acres and it has 150 miles of shoreline in two states. Park activities include boating, houseboating, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing. There is a New Mexico state park at the southern end of the lake.


The area where Navajo State Park now sits was originally inhabited by the Ancient Pueblo Peoples who abandoned the area around 1050 A.D. because of a serious drought at that time. The Ute and Navajo tribes settled the area during the 14th century. The 10 explorers of the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition were some of the first white men entering the area. Their mission was to create a route from New Mexico to California for the Spaniards. In the early 1880s, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad laid their tracks in the area.


In 1958, construction began on Navajo Dam on the San Juan River. It was finally completed in 1962 to provide irrigation water for the Navajo Nation. The reservoir created by the dam would submerge miles of the Rio Grande line, along with the town of Arboles. The Federal Government paid construct a new 12-mile section of railroad with several bridges. Ironically, this new line would only be used for another 5 years. The Rio Grande began using the new line in August 1962. Much of the old grade and the railroad bridge over the Piedra River can still be seen from the Tracks Across Borders Byway. The railroad served the area until 1967 and was an important part of the economy.