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Not “Bottomless” Bottomless Lakes

Dawn at Bottomless Lake

Dawn at Bottomless Lake

We stayed at Bottomless Lakes State Park in Roswell. It was a small lake with cold clear water. It was summer-like spring days and children swam in the swimming area of the lake. I put on my bathing suit and was eager to go swimming. But I didn’t swim at all after I walked in the lake. It was cold! The lake is situated at the base of a low red and white colored bluff with no obvious source of water. The lake is shallow at the edge and then it seems to drop deep underground. Where does the water for the lake come from? After taking a walk on the Bluff Trail, we learned the answer from the interpretative signs along the trail.

Bottomless-Lake

Bottomless Lake

Dawn above Campground

Dawn above Campground

The lakes are water-filled sinkholes and up to 90 feet deep. Water travels underground from the Sacramento and Capitan mountains west of Roswell. When the underground water comes to Pecos River Valley, it reaches a layer of less permeable rock and becomes trapped and pressure is built up. The underground water forces its way to the surface and becomes the artesian springs. The springs dissolves the soft gypsum rock creating sinkholes. The Bottomless Lake was formed when the roof of the underground cavern collapsed and ground water filled it up. This area was a shallow inland sea 250 million years ago. The wavy red siltstone and white gypsum rock on the bluff are the reminders of the ancient waterway.

We were thrilled to see the great horned owl in the late evening. It was perching on a bush on top of the bluff behind our camp site searching for prey. We saw it stayed there until the darkness of the night made it invisible. That was cool!

Sunset at Bottomless Lake

Sunset at Bottomless Lake

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