Isleta Lakes & RV Park – Albuquerque, NM

  • Date: April & May 2014
  • Location: Albuquerque, NM (south end of town)
  • Cost: $530 per month (includes electricity)
  • Number of Sites: 50 with 50 amp electric and full hookups

Technically in the Pueblo of Isleta, Isleta Lakes & RV Park is on an Indian reservation (or Pueblo), but isn’t right next to the associated casino. To scratch your gambling itch you must venture about 3/4 of mile (as the crow flies) to the southeast.

For a commercial park, Isleta gives you a decent sized lot with a covered picnic table at each site. There are two sections of the park, with spaces 1-34 to the north and 35-50 to the south. A “Picnic Area” (aka, big dirt lot with some sort of building, which I never could figure out what it was used for) separates the sections.

The north section seemed to be used for smaller rigs and transients. The southern lot, where I stayed, seemed to have more big rigs and people staying for longer periods. I appeared to be the only person staying for a month, which is the max time you are allowed to stay. I was also pretty much the smallest RV that stayed in that area.

The “lakes” part of the name comes from the two fishing lakes, names “Turtle” and “Sunrise”. You have to purchase a tribal fishing permit separately from your site fee. The lakes are stocked with Rainbow Trout or Channel Catfish, depending on the season. There were Catfish in the lakes when I was there.

There is a gravel road around both lakes, which makes for a nice walking or biking path. It is flat, so not at all strenuous. There are also crushed granite walkways inside of the roads, closer to the lakes, that make for nice walking paths.

This being New Mexico, there isn’t a lot of vegetation at the park. A lot of dirt with the occasional tree. Not the most scenic of settings.

There is a guard shack manned 24/7 at the entrance to the RV park, and you have to pay an entrance fee if you are not staying there – $2 a person, so be aware of this if you have visitors. You also have to check in with the guard as you leave and return, even as ‘guests’. Kind of like asking for permission to leave the compound, which I found a bit strange. Reason for this is they check your catch if you’ve been fishing, and they really don’t know who is staying or who is just a daily visitor. As an RV guest, you show your receipt as you come in, so that you don’t have to pay the entrance fee.

Lakes are very hard to come by in the ABQ area, so these two lakes are pretty popular. Expect lots of day visitors, especially on weekends. My site was about as far away from the lakes as possible, so visitors didn’t bother me. Though that meant I was closest to the train tracks (more on these in a bit). Not that it mattered – anywhere in the park will hear the trains.

I found out that Easter is an incredibly popular day for visitors to the lakes. As in standing room only. Quick a cultural experience for me. I drove around the lakes to see how crowded it was, and boy, it was crowded. There was a line of cars streaming in most of the day.

There is a small general store where they collect the day use and fishing fees. It has some basic supplies, but definitely not the place to go and stock up on groceries. On the back side of the store is the bathroom, shower, and laundry facilities for the RV park guests. The lakes have multiple restrooms around them, so day use people are not supposed to use the camper facilities.

General store with bathroom and laundry facilities around back

General store with bathroom and laundry facilities around back

The Rio Grande borders the RV park to the west, but you cannot access the river due to a chain link fence running on the south, west, and north sides. Rules of the facility clearly state “Walking or hiking past the recreation area fence is not allowed. Violators will be charged with trespassing.” So no hiking by the river, unfortunately.

I-25 runs to the north of the RV park, just past the pasture that has bison. Yes, bison. No, you cannot get anywhere close to them as they are on the north side of said recreation area fence, and not just on the other side either. Back to the freeway – you really don’t hear it, so traffic noise is pretty much a non-issue.

What isn’t a non-issue is the trains that run immediately to the east of the RV park. As in you can throw a rock and hit trains. Choo-choo!

The north-south track is heavily used throughout the day by Amtrak, freight trains and the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, which is a passenger/commuter train. The Rail Runner runs from Belen at the south end to Santa Fe at the north. A weekday sees 8 northbound Rail Runner trains and 8 southbound trains, with the first one starting at 0435hrs. No need for an alarm clock here! Weekend have only 5 Rail Runner trains each way, each day, with the first one at 0745hrs.

I ended up using ear plugs and not hearing the first few trains each morning. There would be some sort of train in the middle of the night, which I believe was a freight train. I was comfy-cozy in my bed when it would roll by and I had zero desire to hop out and see what type it was.

There is the Isleta Pueblo Rail Runner Station literally right at the RV park, so it is a great place to hop the train and head to Santa Fe, a 2 hour train ride, at a day trip cost of $10.

The RV park entrance road crosses the train tracks so there is a rail crossing with the arms that come down and the alarm bells that ring every time a train goes by. This also means that trains have to blow their whistles as they approach the crossing. This is the real noise issue. Lots of long whistle blasts. Cool at first. Annoying as the days go on. Then you kinda just don’t hear them anymore.

Having checked out several commercial parks in the Albuquerque area, Isleta Lakes & RV Park is one of the better ones. It is smaller and offers plenty of room to stretch out. Not being on top of your neighbor is always a plus! I would definitely stay here again when in the ABQ area, since there are no state parks or boondocking areas within reasonable distance. However, there may be a better alternative if you want to stay on the north end of ABQ.

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