Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bottomless Lakes State Park: Another New Mexican Surprise

Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico 

I didn't have high expectations for Bottomless Lakes State Park. The photos on the New Mexico state parks page are a bit shoulder-shrugging, but since visiting all of New Mexico's state parks is one of my goals, I made my plans and went.

(A note to the state of New Mexico: I like your "find a state park page," but once you click through, the information for each of the state parks is inadequate in presentation and content. There aren't even directions to get to the parks. And wouldn't a link on each park page to your parks events calendar be nice? And because New Mexico is so rich in federal public lands, perhaps a link in that direction, as well?)

One of the coolest things about New Mexico's geography is that in one spot, you can look out over the horizon and see an uninterrupted plain of scrabbly flora and sandy soil. But take a few steps forward and a new world opens at your feet.

Thus Exhibit A at Bottomless Lakes State Park:

Exhibit A, Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico

 And Exhibit B, just a few steps into the frame, so to speak:

Exhibit B, Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico

Thanks to the very pleasant volunteer at the park's visitor center, I learned how deep are the sinkholes - or cenotes - that dot the park, and how salty the water.

Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico

Visitors can swim in one of the sinkholes. At that lake are a couple of pretty stone buildings and shade structures with picnic tables.

Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico

On the day I visited, there was lots of activity at the swimming hole.

Just across the street from this large sinkhole was a quiet boardwalk trail (the Wetlands Trail) with intermittent stick-built structures, I'm guessing birdwatching blinds, but also the perfect cool, shady places to lug your folding chair to and have a cool lunch, with only the sounds of birds, bubbling water, and sweet breezes to keep you company. I had this pleasant boardwalk trail entirely to myself.

On the surface, the wetlands soil is a mass of white or off-white crystalline crusts, some flat against the surface; others clustered around twigs, plants, or objects. If you push your finger into the surface just a little bit, you'll bring up water.

Do you see the perfect little paw print below?

Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico

I placed an earring close by for a size perspective.

Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico

It's funny how there's a thin, red layer of silt over the white gypsum at the park.

The tamarisk, aka the Water-Sucking Soldiers, were in bloom the weekend I visited. 

A slide show:

Bottomless Lakes State Park, NM


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