Bottomless Lakes State Park

Written by on May 21, 2017 in NM Outdoor Adventures - Comments Off on Bottomless Lakes State Park

Bottomless Lakes State Park is located 14 miles southeast of Roswell, New Mexico, on the east edge of the Pecos River valley. The biggest question to Bottomless Lakes State Park is are the lakes really bottomless? In point of fact, the lakes are formed from sinkholes … caverns that have collapsed and filled with water. The deepest of the eight lakes in the park is Lea Lake at 90 feet, however, the depth ranges from 17 feet to 90 in all the other lakes.

The lakes got their names from a group of Vaqueros (cowboys) who tied ropes together to find the bottom. When they couldn’t, they thought the lakes were bottomless. The algae in the lakes causes a deep green-blue color adding to the illusion of great depth.


The rock formations surrounding Bottomless Lakes State Park are very colorful — alternating layers of red to green to gray to white gypsum, limestone, sandstone, siltstone, and shale. The area is famous for its “Pecos Diamonds,” which are actually quartz crystals formed inside the gypsum in the soil. The soft gypsum sometimes crumbles away, exposing the “diamonds.”

With a name like Bottomless Lakes, there are plenty of tall tales and folklore that surround the lakes. One story tells of a horse that fell into one of the lakes and drowned, but the body was pulled out of one of the other lakes. Dozens of legends exist of items that have fallen and been lost in the lakes only to be recovered in Carlsbad Caverns or even in the Gulf of Mexico. There are stories of a strong underground current that sucks divers and swimmers into the depths. And no deep lake would be complete without a monster – in this case, the giant turtles said to lurk in the deep, murky waters.

Lea Lake is the only lake where swimming is permitted, where a mesa overlook provides a bird’s eye view of the area. The other lakes are frequently stocked by the Forest Service and offer great fishing, however, a couple of the lakes are surrounded by treacherous sinks, mud flats and swamps, so it’s best to find out what areas are safe to fish before venturing there. Recreational opportunities at Bottomless Lakes include camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, sailing and wildlife viewing. The park also has a trail system open to hiking and site seeing.

The nearby town of Roswell offers lodging, dining and shopping opportunities.

Bottomless Lakes State Park
HC 12, Box 1200
Roswell, NM 88201
Phone: (575) 624-6058

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