PART ONE OF FOUR: Introduction
Karst topography has been discussed and illustrated several times already on this site, like in the discussion of Nash Draw for example, and it is also mentioned in the discussion of the Gypsum Caves not far from Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and in the discussion of the Permian Basin and what shaped it.
You know what is coming next: Bottomless Lakes State Park, in New Mexico, is another karst feature? Right!
We will use this photo-collage for our orientation on each page:
It is hard to compete with the plain-language descriptions of this place provided by the State of New Mexico at the park's visitors center:
The only "fact" not covered in these descriptions is the depth of these holes. They are not literally bottomless, of course. This display shows their depths:
The legend that comes with the display is not readable, but here are a few of the depths:
Lazy Lagoon (far left) and Lea (far right) are the deepest, at about 90 feet each (about 30 meters).
Mirror Lake (now a twin lake) is 50 feet deep (about 17 meters) [the skinnier of the next- deepest, in the center of the above illustration].
You get the idea, these are deep lakes.
The lake levels reflect the pressure in the water beneath them, but they are static lakes with no continuous inflow. Chemistries in their waters differ some from lake to lake, reflecting the flow-paths the waters below them have experienced. No swimming is allowed.
Lea Lake is the exception. It gets continuous refreshment and so swimming is allowed, as well as diving and paddle boating or kayaking.
Lea has an active spring beneath it pumping in about 2.5 million gallons per day, hence it is the only one with an outflow. That outflow heads for the Pecos River. The Pecos River picks up water in this area, actually. It is drier before than after passing a mile or so to the west of this discharge zone.
So now you know the lay of the land and the water source, so let's take a few walks.
Bottomless Lakes State Park New Mexico Page Two
Bottomless Lakes State Park New Mexico Page Three
Bottomless Lakes State Park New Mexico Page Four
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