Cow Creek Ranch, NM

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge in Pecos, New Mexico.

Cow Creek Ranch, NM


Nestled deep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico, near Santa Fe, rests historic Cow Creek Ranch, one of the area's most exclusive fly-fishing lodges. For over 75 years, the ranch has served as a relaxing escape for fishermen and their families and has distinguished itself through its unsurpassed angling experience, fine cuisine, warm southwestern hospitality, excellent service and charming Santa Fe style lodging. While the ranch offers a wide variety of recreational activities, such as archery, sporting clays, horseback riding, biking and spa treatments, the fly-fishing opportunities found here are second to none. Fish 4-1/2 miles of private stream and seven high-mountain lakes teeming with trophy trout with one of our experienced guides and discover a true angler's paradise. The lodge offers accommodations for up to 20 guests.

Date Range

Cow Creek Ranch is open to guests from mid-May to the beginning of October.

What is Provided to Customer

Cow Creek Ranch has a full fly shop on site full of everything you may need out on the water. Tippet, leader, flies, and much more is all kept on hand for your convenience. Rods and reels are also available for guest use upon request, as are belly floats for fly fishing the bigger lakes.

The ranch store also has a variety of other goodies, including necessary toiletries if needed, Cow Creek Ranch merchandise, and much more.

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

Cow Creek itself is spring-fed from Elk Mountain about 6 miles north of the ranch. It flows parallel to the Pecos River, one valley to the east, and is a tributary to the Pecos River. Because of its high elevation, the runoff is usually finished by the first week of May, and the stream maintains a steady flow of water throughout the summer months. Cow Creek Ranch continues to be one of the most desirable places to fly fish in New Mexico.

4½ miles of private stream and seven high mountain lakes teeming with trophy trout, all within walking distance from the lodge, makes this angler's paradise one of New Mexico's best kept secrets. A well-nurtured natural fishery, our private waters yield trout averaging 16"- 20" in size and it is not unusual to catch trout measuring upwards of 26" or 28" in length.

The 3½ mile stretch of stream immediately north and south of the lodge is the most managed stretch of stream and offers a variety of trout fishing. The stretch north of the lodge from station #8 and up has more of an elevation drop. Deep drop pools with runs in between are characteristic of this stretch of stream. The stretch of stream south of the lodge, stations #1 - #7, snakes through the valley with more concave bend pools, deep pockets, and undercut banks. These stations are a great choice for the angler who likes to hop back and forth between moving and still water, as the lakes are scattered throughout the valley near these stations.

All fishing at the ranch is located in the valley and is very easy access, some of it being just right outside your door. The ranch road goes up and down the valley alongside the stream and takes guests directly to their individual fishing stations.

Typical Weather by Season

Cow Creek Ranch is located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at an elevation of 8,600 ft. Weather conditions can change quickly and drastically with very little warning. Mornings and evenings can be chilly with air temperatures averaging 40 to 50 degrees. Afternoons are warmer and range anywhere from 65 to 85 degrees with the occasional afternoon thunder shower.


Sample of Typical Itinerary

A typical trip at the ranch runs from Wednesday to Saturday or Saturday to Wednesday. Guests travel to the ranch either by driving or flying and then renting a car. The most commonly used airport is Albuquerque International Airport in Albuquerque, NM, a two hour commute from Cow Creek Ranch. Guests may also fly commercially into the Santa Fe airport, which is only 1 hour and 15 minutes from the ranch.

Upon check-in to the lodge at 2:00p.m, guests are greeted by the friendly staff, and then encouraged to hit the water immediately, or just take time to relax, get settled into their rooms or enjoy the fresh mountain air. The next two or three or five full days at the ranch are spent fishing guided or unguided or participating in many of the numerous activities offered on the property. Breakfast at the lodge is served anytime until 9:00am, and then anglers, horseback riders, archers, and more head off in various directions until the lunch bell rings at 1pm. Everyone gathers at this point in the cool lodge dining room, or on the spacious patio to enjoy a savory lunch prepared by the ranch chef. The afternoon is full of more fishing, fun, and possibly a much-needed nap at "Fisherman's Rest" - an old aspen grove on the property full of hammocks. With the dinner bell welcoming guests in at 7pm, begins an evening of relaxation, story-telling, and camaraderie. On their day of departure, guests enjoy a hot breakfast, and possibly some early morning fishing. The staff assists guests in gathering gear and saying farewell at 10:00am.


On-site Activities

Activities at the ranch include: fly fishing- guided or unguided, fly-fishing lessons, horseback riding, hiking, bike riding, children's program, massage and spa treatments, sporting clays, archery, corporate team building activities, Breakfast Ride and Fish Fry.

Off-site Activities

The ranch is within close proximity to many of New Mexico's finest attractions, whether you are interested in fly fishing, dining, shopping, or outdoor recreation, you are sure to find something close! A few of the main area attractions include:

  • Fly fishing Pecos Canyon
  • Whitewater rafting in Taos
  • Shopping and visiting galleries and museums in historic downtown Santa Fe
  • Historical attractions (i.e. Pecos National Historic Park and Bandelier National Park)
  • The Valles Caldera
  • Local Cultural Events (i.e. Albuquerque Ballon Fiesta, Spanish Market, Indian Market etc.)


Lodging, Meals, and Accommodations

Guests are beckoned by the ranch bell three times daily to the dining room, where savory meals are served by our friendly staff. Guests can expect typical dinners to be four or five course. Choose to dine inside or enjoy the outdoor patio with a view of the cascading mountain lakes.

The fish fry takes place on Friday evening at a different location on the ranch alongside the stream. Guests trek or drive up the valley to relax and enjoy a savory dinner of fried trout in the beauty of the surrounding hillsides.

The breakfast ride takes place on Tuesday mornings up the valley from the lodge. Guests have the choice of riding horseback, walking or driving to the destination to enjoy a tasty Chuckwagon style meal in the crisp morning air.

All buildings on the ranch were built from pine and aspen harvested from the property itself. The historic lodge, with its open beamed ceilings and two fireplaces, provides a warm atmosphere for dining, visiting with friends, or enjoying your favorite beverage. It serves as a gathering place where adventures are re-lived and memories are made over the embers of a crackling fire.

The charming rooms, each with fireplace and private bath, combine luxury with traditional western ambience. All rooms are connected to the lodge and open onto a large porch surrounding a courtyard, which overlooks the meandering stream. Each room can accommodate two twin beds or one king bed. The lodge offers accommodations for a maximum of 20 guests at a time.


Species You Fish for by Season

All fishing at Cow Creek Ranch is catch-and-release and all guests are required to bend the barb down on their hooks. Cow Creek Ranch is home to rainbows, browns, brookies, cutbows and cutthroat trout species. A seasonal hatch chart specific to Cow Creek can be found on our website.


What Should Customers Bring?

Waders are recommended but not a must, as guests will be fishing smaller waters. Be prepared for small stream fishing and lake fishing. An 8 to 9 foot rod should be sufficient. We recommend 4 or 5 weight rods using floatable line. If you own a 7 1/2 foot rod of a lighter weight, it would prove to be very helpful in some of the tighter areas of the stream.

Don't forget your New Mexico fishing license! Fishing licenses may be purchased online prior to arrival at, or in the town of Pecos at Pecos Canyon Station or in Santa Fe at one of the local fly shops. Unfortunately, we do not sell fishing licenses in the ranch store.

Cow Creek Ranch is BYOB. For you convenience, we have an arrangement with The Liquor Barn in Santa Fe. They will be happy to take your order and payment over the phone so as to have it ready and waiting for you to pick it up.

Layering is the best way to dress when living in a climate with such a broad range of temperatures. Remember to bring sun block and a hat as the sun at this elevation can be very strong. A light rain jacket would also be recommended.


Overall: Show Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 3 reviews


3 of 3 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5

    Cow Creek Ranch is fantastic - 2/7/2013
    By: from Texas

    I have taken a number of groups to Cow Creek Ranch over the years and everyone loves it. Even first-time fly fishermen catch large numbers of trout. Lanier runs a first-class organization and the ranch runs like clockwork.

  • 5/5

    one happy husband and son - 8/24/2011
    By: from Henrietta, TX

    the Cow Creek Ranch people spoiled my husband and son so much i had to remind them upon arriving home that they were not in Oz any more! They loved everything about their stay: the food was delicious; the table company was over-the-top enjoyable; the landscape and cool weather was a gift to us Texans; the campfire and music was a treat; they talked more about this trip than i've ever heard them talk!!! And, they were not ready to leave! I'm going next time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 5/5

    July 2011 Visit - 7/10/2011
    By: from Round Rock, Tx

    A beautiful fishing paradise in the Mountains just outside Sante Fe/Pecos. A limited number of guest rooms at the ranch offer an intimate escape for your fishing adventure. A wide variety of activites are offered for the entire family, from horseback riding to hiking, and of course, great trout fishing. We had a great week of fishing from small water streams to large ponds each holding fish in excess of 22". An attentive staff provide for your every need and knowledgeable guides help bring in the big fish. The ranch provided a wonderful get-a-way, and the food and hospitality were second to none! Thanks to all of the staff at Cow Creek Ranch, we will be back!

Cow Creek Ranch
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge
Lanier Watson
PO Box 487
Pecos, NM 87552

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