Bottomless Lakes State Park was New Mexico's first state park, claimed by the state in 1933. There are seven small park lakes bordered by high red bluffs, Bottomless Lakes State Park offers a variety of sports including hiking, swimming, fishing, and scuba diving. The lakes are water filled sinkholes in the local gypsum terrain. Odd geology and water chemistry create homes for unusual plants and animals, like the Pecos sunflower. Lea Lake is the deepest lake at 90 feet and is the only lake where swimming is allowed. During summer, visitors can rent paddleboards and pedal boats for a small fee. Devil's Inkwell is 32 ft. deep and is named for its steep sides and dark water, the result of algae growth. This lake, as well as Cottonwood Lake, are stocked with rainbow trout in winter.
Bottomless Lakes State Park is located approximately 13 miles east of Roswell, New Mexico south of US 380. The campground has 32 well-spaced sites with electricity (20/30, some 50 amp) and water. Six sites have sewer connections. There are nicely designed covered picnic tables and grills. The campground is situated at the base of a hill that has exposed red soil and rocks.
Bottomless Lakes State Park visitors enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, sailing, wildlife watching and scuba diving. The property contains 1,400 acres, 45 acres of which is lake surface. The entry gate is open 24 hours a day but the campground/day-use area is locked from 9 pm to 7 am during the summer months.
24 hours. Lea Lake Campground/Day Use Area locked at 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. during summer months.
Land: 1,400 Acres
Lake Surface: 45 Acres
Elevation: 3,500 feet
Precipitation: 12.2 inches
HC 12, BOX 1200
Roswell NM 88201
Head 12 miles east from Roswell on US Hwy. 380, then south on NM 409 for about 7 miles.
Dedicated in 1933, Bottomless Lakes was New Mexico's first designated State Park. It is a twelve mile drive east of Roswell on U. S. Highway 380, then seven miles south on New Mexico Highway 409.
The lakes are bottomless in name only. None is more than ninety feet deep, but the illusion of great depth and the greenish blue color is created by algae and other aquatic plants covering the lake bottoms. In actuality, they are sink holes rather than lakes and range in depth from 17 to 90 feet. They were formed when circulating underground water dissolved salt and gypsum deposits to form subterranean caverns. Ultimately, the roofs of the caverns collapsed from their own weight to form the sink holes that soon filled with water. They are all quite small and only Lea Lake is large enough to support swimming and other water recreational activities. It is on the south end of the group, where the day use and camping areas are located.
All the lakes are on the east side of the road, as is the Interpretative Visitors Center. Near the Visitors Center a short nature trail leads from here to nearby Mirror Lake, so named for the beautiful reflection of the red bluffs surrounding it. It is 50 feet deep and provides a home for various species of fish. Rare species of Pecos pupfish and rainwater killifish are inhabitants. Fishing is allowed year-round, where stocked, if you have a New Mexico State fishing license with a trout validation.
The Devil's Inkwell is also stocked with rainbow trout in the winter. Overnight campsites, drinking water and chemical toilets are available nearby.
Lea Lake, the largest of the lakes, is the only place where you can swim or rent hydro bikes, paddle boards or rafts for a nominal fee, from the first weekend in May through Labor Day. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer, and the sandy beach is well-maintained.
This area is also famous for "Pecos Diamonds." They aren't diamonds but are quartz crystals formed inside gypsum. Now and then the gypsum crumbles away, exposing the "diamonds."
Recently, because of the clarity of the water, scuba diving has become popular. In the summer when the water comes in, it is cool. Then when the lake water warms up, the temperature differences cause such clarity; visibility is fifty to sixty feet.
The nearby city of Roswell offers a number of "out of this world" attractions such as the UFO Museum and the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium.