Written by: Robin
We headed up to Roswell for a week on our way to Albuquerque. I was full of anticipation to check out what I remembered from my childhood as a unique funky town. I had announced my intention to visit the Roswell UFO Museum and hear what “really happened” with the mysterious crash of 1947 as well as hear the conspiracy theories about the alien autopsies that were allegedly carried out at the Roswell base. FUN!!!! As we drove through the town to make our way to Bottomless Lakes State Park, I quickly felt my anticipation fade to disappointment as I realized that what seemed cool to me as a kid…just felt cheesy now. As we drove out of town we realized that the park was a bit further from Roswell than we realized so I decided that I would just let it go…and would not likely be venturing into town to explore much anyway. I was driving this time, and my disappointment soon turned to anxiety as our GPS became confused and the directions I got when I called were making less sense the further we drove. Wondering if there were mysterious forces messing with me because of my disbelief, we made our way down the very sketchy, narrow road that seemed to be heading to nowhere.
Happily, after 7 miles of white knuckle driving, we saw a beautiful bright blue lake and some RV’s, so we knew we had made it. It was starting to feel better already. e were greeted by the campground host, Deb who upgraded us to a nice big pull through spot because they were first come, first served…and we were early! As I began to look around at the beautiful area, I decided that maybe I should adopt Jeremy’s philosophy of the natural attractions being the ones we seek out, rather than the man made.
This state park quickly became one of our favorites. Here are some reasons why…
Geology….This was the first state park in New Mexico, established in 1933. Apparently these “bottomless lakes” are actually an ancient limestone reef that formed caverns (not all that different from Carlsbad where we had just visited). The nearby Pecos River eroded away the rock which collapsed the caverns and formed the 9 small but deep lakes, which are actually cenotes. They are fed by underground water percolating through the rocks.
This makes most of them salt water rather than fresh, because of the limestone. This was GREAT news for hank, who loves to swim but breaks out in hives from most fresh-water environment. Swimming was a regular activity for him that week.
History….They are not actually bottomless, but range in depth from 18-90 feet. They got their name because the cowboys who named them were trying to figure out their depth and tied two or three ropes together and drop them into the lakes to try to reach the bottom. The ropes were not long enough, so they thought the lakes were bottomless! The greenish-blue color created by algae and other aquatic plants also added to the illusion of great depth. There was lots of great hiking around the lakes. Deb even told us about a “buffalo killing field” that we could hike to. We decided to stick to the lakes!
Mystery….other tall tales and folklore abound. There are two lakes called the Figure 8 lakes, that are side-by-side. One tells of a horse that fell into one of these lakes, drowned, and was pulled out of the other. Also, numerous objects have been reportedly lost in the lakes, only to be retrieved later from Carlsbad Caverns or even the Gulf of Mexico! There are stories of strong underground currents that suck divers and swimmers deep into the bowels of the Earth, never to be seen again! Just when you thought that was enough intrigue…the Bottomless Lakes also have stories of monsters that are said to be giant turtles that lurk in the depth! So…there…who needs UFO’s and aliens anyway!
Peace…As it was early in the season the park was only half-full. This made for many lazy afternoons in the sun, which we were really getting for the first time in about 4 months. It was such a cold and rainy winter on the gulf-coast that we went a little crazy now that we had sun and warmth. No distractions of a city or town…just the few of us campers nestled in the warm, sunny desert. Ahhhhhhh…….
Beauty….not only was this a great state park with HUGE spaces…it was very well kept. There was an entire extra space in between each spot, so there was plenty of room to breathe! Deb also told me about Pecos Diamonds, and gave me a map of where I could go to “hunt” them and a sample of her own so I would know what to look for. Instead of visiting the UFO museum, one afternoon I set out solo to some remote land and went hunting. She was right, once I learned what to look for…I couldn’t stop seeing them. (except when I got distracted by other pretty things…)
Character….Deb, what else can I say…excellent and kind campground host! There were also others who are worthy of mention… a family who frequents the park, and sets up a MONSTER tent for 2 weeks at a time. They don’t have an RV, but they did pull up in a big U-Haul, which carried their tent and the houseful of furniture and supplies they needed for two weeks…I felt like I was on the set of M*A*S*H!
We met several friendly folk during our stay. There was one, though, who we never met…who stayed in his BMW with the windows tarped, spoke to no one and occasionally emerged to take an hour trip to town or to walk to the restroom.
Seemed creepy at first, but Deb assured us that they had their “eye’ on him… We couldn’t figure out exactly what his story was…strangest camping neighbor yet…who knows, maybe I got to see my alien after all!
We enjoyed our week much more than we expected. What a wonderful addition to our visit to the “Land of Enchantment”!! It was actually hard to leave…but it was time to get back to a city so we could work, so off to Albuquerque we went.