Friday, March 29, 2013

Bottomless Lakes State Park

Bottomless Lakes State Park is located in flat desert terrain 12 miles east of Roswell. The park was dedicated in 1933, as the first state park in New Mexico!

One of the first things you'll see upon entering the park are these beautiful red bluffs and this lake surrounded by white soil!

To get a good look at Lazy Lagoon you have to hike up a medium-sized mound.

This is one of three sinkholes that make up the lagoon.  We were told at the visitor's center that the salinity of the water in this lagoon is 2.7% and the ocean is 3.5%.

These sinkholes look deceptively shallow, but are actually 90 feet deep!  They are surrounded by treacherous alkaline mud flats.  The crust covers deep unpleasant smelling mud!  My instinct was that it wouldn't be safe to be on these white flats, but we saw where people had ventured out on them to write in the white crust!

Upon leaving the park the road loops up on top of the bluffs.  Here is a look at Lazy Lagoon from the top of the bluff. We were told that at times a shallow depth of water will fill this whole lagoon. This area of New Mexico is currently in a draught.
The next stopping point is the visitor's center.  A day pass is $5.00 per vehicle.
To the right of the visitor's center is another sinkhole called Cottonwood Lake.  The water depth is 30 feet.  Each sinkhole has varying levels of salinity.  This one is stocked with Rainbow Trout during the Winter.  Fishing is allowed in some areas of the park.

It's an easy walk to take a closer look!

The sinkholes in the park were formed when circulating underground water dissolved salt and gypsum deposits to form subterranean caverns.  When the roofs of the caverns collapsed from their own weight, sinkholes resulted and soon filled with water.  The white rocks are gypsum; the stuff drywall panels are made of!

This is Mirror Lake.  It is 50 feet deep.  The greenish-blue color is created by algae and other aquatic plants covering the lake bottoms.

This is a view of the two sinkholes that make-up Mirror Lake.  This lake is also stocked with Rainbow Trout.

The lower lakes offer developed camping, with fresh water and vault toilets.

I thought it was interesting the way plants grow in lines across the hills.  I'm guessing they are growing along small ridges where the water collects or in vertical creases where the water flows down the hill.

There is camping near Lake Lea with full hook-ups, modern restrooms, and hot showers.  R.V. lots are $14.00 per day with a two week stay limit.

Lake Lea is to the background, the modern campground is to the right, and the building to the left is part of the swimming area facilities.

This is a view of the Lake Lea beach house.  That's something you wouldn't expect to see in the desert!

Lake Lea has a beautiful sandy beach and wonderful covered picnic area!  There is a concession stand, modern restrooms, hot showers, Summer lifeguards, paddle boats, and pedal boats!

Even though it's just the end of March I had to give the water a try!  It seemed warm enough for a swim!  Lake Lea is the largest of the lakes and is the only one where swimming is allowed.  The water chemistry is monitored for its acceptability for swimming.  Entrance to the swimming area is free, as part of the park day use pass.

This is the view of Lake Lea from on top of the bluff.  The lake is 90 feet deep.  It is spring fed with almost 2.5 million gallons of water flowing through it daily!  Due to the clarity of the water, scuba diving has become very popular!  Scuba diving in the desert has to be a unique experience, so bring your gear when you visit!

I enjoyed this desolate view of the desert with one hazy peak in the distance, as we prepared to leave Bottomless Lakes State Park!  It is a small park that doesn't take long to drive through.  There are 7 lakes in the park.  With a longer stay there is one hiking trail, fishing, and all the fun activities at Lake Lea to enjoy!