The Story Behind New Mexico's Mysterious Bottomless Lakes

A History of Mystery

Deep in the state of New Mexico, there exists a collection of so-called "bottomless lakes". There have longtime been legends of items disappearing into the lakes and later reappearing on the Gulf of Mexico or the Carlsbad Caverns. Other legends claim that a giant turtle monster roams the bottom of the lake with others stating that the lakes have strong underwater currents that pull things in.

An Erroneous Name

The nine bottomless lakes are located in Roswell, Chaves County in New Mexico. The mysterious nine lakes are often believed to be bottomless. However, they are neither lakes nor bottomless. They are sinkholes that have filled up with water. The water in the lakes comes from underground percolation of the neighboring rocks. The lakes were formed as a result of erosion on Pecos’s river valley. The eastern escarpment of the river valley was eroded into limestone caves, which later collapsed leaving behind the sinkholes (cenotes). The sinkholes appear circular and are very deep. Cliffs surround most of the lakes. These nine lakes include the Lazy Lagoon, Cottonwood Lake, Mirror Lake, Devils Inkwell, Figure Eight Lake, Pasture Lake, Lost Lake, Lea Lake and Dimmitt Lake.

Such Great Depth

The lakes vary in depth from 17ft to 90ft (5 m to 27 m) and in their surface areas and shapes. Lake Lea is the deepest at 90ft and has a surface area of 6.1ha. The lakes are home to unique aquatic species of fish, most of whom are endangered species. Some of these species include the cricket frog, the eastern barking frog, the rainwater killifish, and the Pecos pupfish. The lakes Devil’s Inkwell and cottonwood provide a home for the rainbow trout during the winter season. The lakes are open to tourism by all people. Seven of the lakes have a protection status although tourists contaminate some of these lakes through improper and careless trash disposal. Evaporation rates and underwater plants affect the color of the waters in these lakes. Where there are many underwater plants, the water appears blue green and brackish where the evaporation rates are high.

A Scuba Diving Paradise

The environment of the lakes offers an ideal environment for tourists with different interests. Out of the nine lakes, tourists are only allowed to swim in Lake Lea due to its wide surface area. The lake is an ideal spot for scuba divers with its depth. These divers also have the privilege of indulging in underwater poker, a close up of the fish species in the lake and attractive views of springs found beneath the lake. For tourists not keen on swimming, the surrounding lake environment provides a perfect spot for hiking, bird watching and other surface activities such as sand sculpture competitions. Tourist can camp around in the bottomless lakes states park from May 1 when the campgrounds open at a daily fee of $5.

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