Clayton Lake State Park, New Mexico (with Map & Photos)

Clayton Lake State Park is a state park 24 kilometers northwest of Clayton in Union County in the U.S. state of New Mexico. The area is accessible from Clayton via Highway 370 
. The park is located at an altitude of 1580 m.

Clayton Lake is a state park in New Mexico where you can follow the fossil footprints of dinosaurs and also see one of the most beautiful starry skies in the United States. It is located north of the city of Clayton, near the New Mexico border with Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, and its natural environment has been a mandatory stop for travelers since the 19th century.

Clayton Lake State Park
Clayton Lake State Park

The landscape of Clayton Lake State Park is characterized by rolling grasslands, volcanic rocks, and sandstone cliffs, located on the western edge of the American Great Plains.

Clayton Lake is popular with anglers, but daytime activities for park visitors include picnicking, camping, or following one of the longest dinosaur trails in North America. 

At night, a star-studded night sky spreads over the surface of the lake. But it hasn't always been that way.

Clayton Lake State Park
Clayton Lake State Park

In 2008, the Northeast New Mexico Detention Center opened, following the construction of the Clayton Astronomical Observatory. The lights in the new prison were too bright and poorly installed. Park officials visited the prison governor to ask if he could shield the lights, and brought back an example of a protection device. So persuasive were they that the governor had inmates make screens for all the offending lights, so light pollution was over.

In 2010 Clayton Lake State Park with Star Point Observatory was designated by the International Dark Sky Association as a Dark Sky Park.

Clayton Lake Park receives approximately 65,000 visitors a year, many of whom attend the star parties held annually at the Star Point astronomical observatory facility.

Clayton Lake State Park Map