Along the border of Mexico in Val Verde County, a mighty reservoir reflects the beauty of desert sky. Lake Amistad is the result of a hydro dam completed in cooperation between Texas and Mexico in 1969. The approximate surface area is 65000 acres, extending 81 miles up the Rio Grande, 14 miles along the Pecos and 25 miles up the Devils River. The name "Amistad" is Spanish meaning friendship. The name is a symbol for the peaceful construction and joint management of the international water boundary.
The Rio Grande beyond the Amistad Dam heading toward the Gulf of Mexico
In February 2011, Cody and I made a brief visit to Amistad National Recreation Area on our way to Big Bend National Park. We were amazed to see a vibrant lake shining amongst limestone rocks and desert scrub.
In November 2010, a tropical storm filled the reservoir to the second highest level recorded. Our visit in February 2011 was at peak water levels. After several years of drought, we returned in April 2015 and the lake was noticeably lower. Luckily rain was in the forecast.
2011 vs 2015, notice the difference in water levels
No matter the water level or the rain, we came to camp, canoe and view wildlife.
Our campground was on the northwest side of Lake Amistad along California Creek in Castle Canyon. The morning was filled with mist, finally clearing to a beautiful sunny day.
It felt good to be on the water, calm wind and a smooth ride moved us swiftly along. Cody spotted some animals drinking at the waters edge. We docked at the headland and explored the terrain.
Standing on higher ground looking for blooming cactus, while Cody explored down below. HWY 90 bridge in distance to right.
Up the creek from where we came
Our navigational chart listed the buoy numbers, so we paddled out to the middle to confirm our location. Once around, we headed downwind back to California Creek.
Heading for camp
We arrived at camp just before the sun was beginning to set and another storm loomed on the horizon.
Lightning storm at night by the campfire.
Our time at Lake Amistad was magical. There was an abundance of wildlife to see, as the animals drank from the clean waters of the lake. We observed deer, goats, sheep, jackrabbits, wild turkeys, water fowl, and a scorpion. The sunsets were amazing. The skies were filled with rainbows and swirled with ominous rainclouds charged by lightning. We ended our trip a day early due to rain. The much needed rain was welcomed by the desert and the lake. We look forward to returning and visiting the other 500 miles of shoreline, with possibly some overnight canoe trips down the Devils and Pecos Rivers.
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