The Mysterious Bottomless Lakes

Earlier in the week, I visited Roswell, New Mexico, a desert town that is best known for the UFO crash(es) that happened nearby in 1947. The 70th anniversary of the event takes place next week. What many folks do not realize is that the weirdness surrounding Roswell does not end with crashed UFOs and the alleged retrieval of extraterrestrial bodies; Roswell is also home legends of lake monsters.

About a 20-minute drive southeast of Roswell lie the Bottomless Lakes—a series of nine lakes, eight of which belong to the Bottomless Lakes State Park.  The lakes are cenotes, sinkholes which result from the collapse of limestone exposing the groundwater underneath.

Exposed gypsum beds running along the areas surrounding the lakes.

The lakes were rumored to be bottomless long ago because the area vaqueros could not ascertain the depth by tying ropes together and dropping them in hopes of hitting the bottom. It is in this deep water that turtles the size of cars are said to dwell. In the 1980s, a boater claimed to see one of these giants come to the surface.

A network of subterranean chambers is rumored to connect the lakes and possibly run as far as the Carlsbad Caverns, nearly 90 miles to the south. There are stories of objects being lost and recovered in the neighboring lakes and in Carlsbad Caverns. A drowned horse is said to have been recovered in a different lake than where it died. The lakes have a reputation for swallowing up livestock, cars, and people. Could the massive turtles be real? Is there some strange phenomenon at work? Or, are the lakes just the centerpiece of interesting folklore?

Lazy Lagoon, the largest and deepest of the Bottomless Lakes.


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