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Bottomless Lakes State Park
Lea Lake.jpg
View of Lea Lake from the overlook above the lake
Bottomless Lakes State Park is located in New Mexico
Bottomless Lakes State Park
Bottomless Lakes State Park
Location in New Mexico
Location Chaves County, New Mexico, United States
Area 1,400 acres (5.7 km2)
Elevation 3,500 ft (1,100 m)
Established 1933
Governing body New Mexico State Parks Division

Bottomless Lakes State Park is a state park in the U.S. state of New Mexico, located along the Pecos River, about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Roswell. Established in 1933, it was the first state park in New Mexico. It takes its name from nine small, deep lakes located along the eastern escarpment of the Pecos River valley. The escarpment is an ancient limestone reef, similar to the limestone mountains around Carlsbad Caverns, 80 miles (130 km) to the south. Caves formed within the limestone, and as the Pecos River eroded the escarpment, the caves eventually collapsed, leaving behind several deep, almost circular lakes known as cenotes.


Most of the nine lakes are almost completely surrounded by cliffs, with the notable exceptions being Lea Lake and Lazy Lagoon. Lea Lake has a large, sandy shoreline on the western side and tall cliffs on the eastern side. The cliffs around Lazy Lagoon have been completely eroded away by the Pecos River, and the lake sits in a former channel of the river.

Lazy Lagoon is the largest of the lakes, with a surface area of approximately 26.1 acres (10.6 ha). Although it is a single lake, it is made up of three separate sinkholes. The surface of the Lazy Lagoon is nearly level with the surrounding salt flats, which makes it look very shallow. Despite the name, the deepest of its three sinkholes is 90 feet (27 m) deep.

Lea Lake is the only lake in which swimming is allowed. It has a beach and concession area that is popular in the summer.

Devil's Inkwell is the smallest lake with a surface area of 0.36 acres (0.15 ha). Its name stems from the water's dark color, caused by the steep sides of the cenote and algae growth within the lake.

In pure geologic terms, Figure Eight Lake is two lakes separated by a thin strip of land. When the water is very high the strip of land is covered, and the two nearly circular lakes join and take the shape of a figure eight. Irrigation in the Pecos Valley has lowered the water table, so the two lakes of Figure Eight lake rarely join to form a single lake anymore.

Pasture Lake is the shallowest lake at 18 feet (5.5 m) deep with a surface area of 0.76 acres (0.31 ha).

Lake Maximum depth Surface area Notes
Lazy Lagoon 90 feet (27 m) 26.1 acres (10.6 ha) Largest by area
Cottonwood Lake 27.5 feet (8.4 m) 0.52 acres (0.21 ha)
Mirror Lake (north) 32.8 feet (10.0 m) 3 acres (1.2 ha)
Mirror Lake (south) 43.3 feet (13.2 m) 0.44 acres (0.18 ha)
Devil's Inkwell 28.2 feet (8.6 m) 0.36 acres (0.15 ha) Smallest; dark algae color
Figure Eight Lake (north) 37 feet (11 m) 1.46 acres (0.59 ha)
Figure Eight Lake (south) 22 feet (6.7 m) 0.76 acres (0.31 ha)
Pasture Lake 18 feet (5.5 m) 0.76 acres (0.31 ha) Shallowest
Lost Lake 0.1 acres (0.040 ha) "less than 1 acre (0.40 ha)"
Lea Lake 90 feet (27 m) 15 acres (6.1 ha) Only lake allowing swimming. Daily spring flow of about 2,500,000 US gallons (2,100,000 imp gal; 9,500 m3).
Dimmitt Lake 10 acres (4.0 ha) Private lake made up of two basins covering about 10 acres (4.0 ha).

The lakes are not fed by streams, and the evaporation rate of the lakes in the hot desert climate exceeds the rate at which rainwater refills them. The lakes are fed by underground water percolating through the rocks and into the lakes. The high evaporation rate produces brackish water in the lakes.

Seven of the lakes are protected, although in recent years the lakes have been contaminated by trash that has been thrown into the lakes by careless visitors. The ninth and southernmost lake, Dimmitt Lake, is not a part of the state park and is owned by the Fin and Feather Club, a local hunting and fishing club.


Four endangered species can be found in the park—the Pecos pupfish, the Rainwater Killifish, the cricket frog, and the Eastern Barking Frog.

In the winter, Devil's Inkwell and Cottonwood Lake are both stocked with Rainbow Trout.

Bottomless Lakes Feb 2013 2
An aerial view of the Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell, New Mexico

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