The lakes are water filled sinkholes in the local gypsum terrain. Odd geology and water chemistry create homes for unusual plants and animals, like the Pecos sunflower.
The lakes’ greenish-blue color creates the illusion that the lakes are bottomless. Cowboys added to the lake’s mystique when they failed to find the bottom of the lakes by tying their saddle ropes together. In fact, they range in depth from 17 feet to 90 feet.
In 1933 the Bottomless Lakes area was set aside as New Mexico’s first state park.
Lea Lake is the deepest lake at 90 feet and is the only lake where swimming is allowed. During summer, visitors can rent paddle boards and pedal boats for a small fee. Devil’s Inkwell is 32 ft. deep and is named for its steep sides and dark water, the result of algae growth. This lake, as well as Pasture Lake, are stocked with rainbow trout in winter.
Teachers now have more reason to consider a field trip to Bottomless Lakes State Park. The “Bitter Water, Bottomless Lakes” (BWBL) curriculum offers 4th and 5th grade teachers several field trip and classroom activities tied to New Mexico science standards. Lessons include habitat, geology, adaptations, and water quality.