Day trips: Boating, diving among attractions at Bottomless Lakes

The Bottomless Lakes State Park is located just southeast of Roswell and can be reached by an easy drive of less than two hours.

The Bottomless Lakes became the first state park in New Mexico in 1933. The park encompasses eight scattered lakes — some of the state’s few all-natural water holes, according to the New Mexico State Parks Division.

Recreation and activities
Camping, hiking, fishing, boating and scuba diving are a few of the activities available at Bottomless Lakes State Park.

“The biggest attraction for the hot summer months is the swimming and the beach,” said Park Superintendent Steve Patterson.

Lea Lake, boasting large sandy beaches with a lifeguard on duty, is the only lake available for swimming. It covers 15 acres on its surface with its deepest point at 90 feet, according to the park’s profile on www.nmparks.com.

Pedal boats and paddle boards are available for rent, but many people bring canoes and rafts, according to Patterson. People are allowed to bring boats, as long as they are under 4 horsepower, he added.

A large day-use and picnic area is reserved adjacent to the lake, according to the park’s brochure. The park has 24-hour access.

“The park is a desert environment, but all the sites have shelters,” said Patterson.

There are trails for mountain bikes and hikers throughout the state park, with ranger-guided hikes at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The park hosts a program called Enchanted Evenings, an educational event that generally covers nature-oriented topics. The hour-long program starts at 8 p.m. Saturdays.

The park also caters to groups wanting to hold social events and gatherings, as long as they are also nature-oriented.

History
In the 1870s, the Goodnight Loving Cattle trail, which ran from Texas up the Pecos River to Colorado, cut through the lakes. Cowboys named the site the Bottomless Lakes after failing to find the water’s bottom by tying saddle ropes together and feeding them into the lakes, according to the state park brochure.

Admission
Park entrance fee per vehicle: $5
RV or tent camping — no utilities: $10
RV or tent camping — electric and water: $14
RV or tent camping — electric, water and sewer: $18

Directions
Take U.S. 70 to Roswell. At exit A, take the ramp onto U.S. 285 toward the Roswell business district. From inside Roswell, head east on U.S. 380 for 12 miles and then south on N.M. 409 for three miles.

Contact
Call 624-6058 or visit www.nmparks.com

— Compiled by Michael Harrell
Freedom Newspapers