Category Archives: swimming

Sitting Bull Falls (Carlsbad, New Mexico)

Sitting Bull Falls
~ Eddy County Rd 409, Lincoln National Forest, Carlsbad, New Mexico USA ~ ~

This amazing oasis in the middle of the desert outside of Carlsbad New Mexico is amongst my world’s favorite locations and cooling off zones. I grew up with the Cave and the pools from childhood, hanging out there with friends from high school, partying in the pools above, stealthily camping and cave exploring long before there were required permits and restrictive gates or access. It has changed quite a bit, but very much improved for recreation and protecting the natural resources on location. It is a day-use only site. The site has pavilions, picnic tables, water, and restrooms accessible. There are established hiking trails from the site. It is open from 8:30 am until 6 pm with a $5 per vehicle parking fee.

The site is a astonishing dream-like 150′ waterfall than pours over canyon walls with a stalactite/stalagmite filled cavern behind it, dumping down into crystal clear natural swimming pools beneath. It is one of a series of waterfalls found in this canyon lost within the Lincoln National Forest that are spring fed through a series of streams and pools until reaching its drop-off. Most of the river’s water disappears into cracks, gravel, and bedrock and reappears in springs further down the canyon eventually joining the Pecos Valley underwater aquifer.

The geology of the area is a remnant reef system known as the Capitan Great Barrier Reef dating from the Permian period around 250 million years ago when the region was the edge of an inland sea. The name of the falls has never been proven, but legend has it that the cave behind the falls was used by Sitting Bull to hide. The Apache called the area “gostahanagunti” meaning “hidden gulch”. In 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed number of stone buildings that are now part of the parking lot and picnic area. THere is a time capsule dated March 24, 1999 embedded into one of the buildings. The park was closed from APril 27, 2011 through April 6, 2012 after wildfires in the are destroyed the area making it unsafe.

There are numerous sacred pools above the falls which are great for swimming in. In order to explore the cave behind the waterfall or any of the other caves in the area, one needs proper equipment and obtain a permit.

The site is easy to get to, though quite a distance from Carlsbad so be ready for some bumpy dirt roads. Take US highway 285 north from Carlsbad, turn west on NM 137 for 20 miles to county road 409, turn right and continue to the site. Another turn-off is right across the highway from the turn-off to Bradford Lake State Park.

Another family’s video of caving in the cave:

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Roswell Country Club (Roswell, New Mexico)

Roswell Country Club
~ 2601 N. Urton Road, Roswell, New Mexico 88201 * 575-622-3410 * ~

I remember growing up with parents part of this social club – in the 1980’s it was seen as a status symbol and was a way to show off wealth (which my parents were wealthy). In my opinion it wasn’t a good life lesson to show off status or place in society, but that was the way it was back then (and maybe is now). My dad’s intent was probably more for using the golf course and to do business connections in the clubhouse with potential clients for his car dealership and real estate business. We kids of course loved fishing in the lake, swimming in the pool, and doing tennis, golf, and other sports with dad on the grounds. The membership fee in those days were steep and I imagine they are still today.

The club is located outside of Roswell just down the road from my old high school – Goddard. It was established and built in 1905 by members of the Roswell community who wanted to create recreational facilities for its members and families. It’s first officers were W.E. Wisely, E.A. Cahoon, and J.A. Graham – originally purchasing 50 acres from the Stone Estate and Cosmos Sedillo. They began construction of the Club House in 1906 under guidance of D.Y. Tomlinson and the 16 acre lake was stocked with black bass. More land was later added from John T. Stone, adding in a nine-hole golf course and swimming pool.

Rated: 4 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Blue Hole (Santa Rosa, NM)

Blue Hole
~ Santa Rosa, New Mexico
~ ~

In the middle of the New Mexican northeastern desert is a aqua dark blue oasis called the “Blue Hole”. It was also once called “Blue Lake” or “Aqua Negra Chiquita” as one of the seven sister lakes connected underground by a vast network of water sources that gives Santa Rosa its reputation of being a city of natural lakes. These are all part of the Santa Rosa sink – a popular watering hole, recreation spot, and tourism along historic Route 66 and old settlement days. The Sink became a National fish hatchery in 1932 and by the 1970’s became a Recreation Area and morphed into the Blue Hole Dive and Conference Center. It is a source of clear pure water that is a treasured natural resource – with 100′ visibility as the water continually renews itself ever six hours with a constant 62 degrees Fahrenheit and a constant inflow of over 3,000 gallons per minute. The surface is 80′ wide and expands to 130 feet diameter at the bottom. A circular bell shaped pool that is a spring and a sinkhole in one. As Santa Rosa is at a elevation of 4,616 feet above sea level, divers training in the Blue Hole have to use high-altitude dive tables to computer their profile and decompression stops while diving. Swimmers, cliff jumpers, and bathers enter above for free with sometimes no lifequards present.

The Blue Hole has claimed many lives which has forced the City to place a grate over the cave entrance at the bottom for safety. Even when they have opened the grate for expert divers to go in and map the caves, death was often the end result. March 26, 2016 – 43 year old expert California cave diver Shane Thompson became trapped and drowned while exploring the passageways. According to the Albuerqueque Journal in March 1976 two divers within a group of 10 university students were diving together and 21 year old David Gregg and 22 year old Mike Godard didn’t resurface and lost their lives in the caves. After multiple rescue dives, their bodies recovered. In 1979 it happened again, two other divers got lost and died in the caves, bodies recovered after multiple dives. This led to the closing of the entrance. There is a 1960’s-1970’s urban legend of another diver who got lost, and his body never recovered in the Blue Hole. Legend states his body was found naked and scraped up in Lake Michigan that somehow the Blue Hole and Lake Michigan was connected via underground caves and tunnels. However since all the other bodies were quickly recovered and scientists state its impossible for the tunnels to connect to the Great Lakes not only because of geology but a need for a continuous rock stratum to support such caves. There is also the impassible hydrological barrier of the Mississippi River that acts as a giant collection system not only moving surface water to the Ocean, but subsurface water to. The body would have to swim upstream to get to the Great Lakes.

Map of Blue Hole:

Additional Reading:

  • According to Leanne 2012 “Diver deaths spawn rumors of underground waterway” website referenced 7/11/18 at
  • NY Daily News u.d. “Expert diver died after getting trapped overnight navigating the dangerous Blue Hole caverns in New Mexico: ‘Everything went terribly wrong’ website refereced on 7/11/18 at

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions, visited 6/26/2018. ~

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Prospect Lake, Colorado Springs

Prospect Lake
~ 1605 E. Pikes Peak Avenue, Colorado Springs, Colorado ~

A beautiful water-sports popular swimming lake in the heart of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Popularized by the many offerings of Memorial Park and the YMCA Aquatic Center, this location is very popular with the locals for swimming, fishing, boating, water skiing, jet skiing, and water sports. The parks and amenities along its shores are very popular, including playgrounds, bath house, beaches, recreational trails, and picnic spots. There is also one wheelchair accessible fishing dock. Some boating requires licenses or permits, but both motorized and non-motorized boats may operate on the lake, including sail boats, canoes, row boats, and paddle boats some of which can be rented in the park. There is a 1.25 mile long fitness trail around the lake. At the official beach, which is roped in to protect swimmers from boating, offers a once a week opportunity to swim 6-8 pm saturdays beyond the ropes to the rest of the lake.

The lake is historic and man-made being originally built in 1890 as a reservoir for overflow irrigation water. It became a swimming lake in 1932. It was donated with land by General William Jackson Palmer along with other Colorado Springs parks upwards of 1270 acres to the City of Colorado Springs. Prospect Lake is part of Memorial Park. There is some dark history to the lake, including the fact that it has leaked massive amounts of water for over 50 years causing environmental issues for the city. This has raised much controversy as the lake has been drained in the past and contemplations of emptying it for good has been considered. The commission put together a $50,000 study to determine why it is leaking water. It is believed that the bentonite clay lining that was installed in 1953 on its bottom cracked when it was exposed and dried out in 2002 when it was purposely allow to dry up during the 2002 drought. Prior to that the lake had been annually pumped with potable water by Colorado Springs Utilities. The lake was refilled in 2003 with non-potable water and banned swimming that year. It is hypothesized that the water leaked through the cracks into an underground aquifer. leaking through the porous ground soil at the same pace throughout the years. Evaporation is also believed to be a major issue annually. The Parks office claims “it’s a birdbath with a crack in it”. The lake loses 392 acre feet or 128 million gallons of water every year, 54% through leakage and 46% by evaporation. 400 acre-feet of water costs the city $389,000. Theories state the city could drain the lake and install a bentonite liner over the other half of the bottom but that would cost several hundred thousands of dollars and would not solve the evaporation problem. Other solution would be the city building a well north of the lake in the aquifer that takes much of the seepage and pump the water back into the lake. They say “its just a major recreation area. We’ll put hundreds of thousands of dollars into ball fields … and when you think about Prospect Lake, it has that same kind of benefit” Richard Skorman, the Vice Mayor stated.

As for cleanliness, the lake has potable water pumped into it annually and they have drained and refilled the lake a few years back. In former years, it has been “sketchy” due to patrons, general neighborhood concerns, and cleanliness but many of those issues have been tackled in current years. City Health officials state that even though swimming pools are rigorously chlorinated and tested daily, outdoor swimming lakes and beaches are not. There is no way to chlorinate, check chemical quality, use a filtration system or check turbidity. Even with swimming pools, a 2010 national study states that 1 in 8 pool inspections led to an immediate closure due to code violations. Pools can be closed in minutes with on the hour testing. Some pool operators go above and beyond, such as the YMCA at Monument Park including emergency response plans to deal with any unexpected issues involving recreational water illnesses (RWI) that can cause diarrhea, gastrointestinal, ear, respiratory, eye and would infections often caused by cryptosporidium, giardia, shigella, norovirus, and E. coli. The YMCA operates several city-owned pools and water features including Monument Valley Pool, Portal Pool, Wilson Ranch Pool, and Prospect Lake Beach in Memorial Park. The YMCA follos state Department of Public Health and Environment’s guidelines for natural swimming areas and testing. The beach is tested 17 times during the summer, collecting bacteriological water quality samples at least once every seven days and no fewer than 5 times a month, collecting water-quality samples at least 24 hours prior to the beginning of a peak-use period and within 24 hours after the end of the same peak use period such as before and after Memorial Day weekend.

Note: The safety of the lake is questionable even though it has a city operated bath house, swimming beach, and is a popular recreation spot in Colorado Springs. According to the local hospital, the water is questionable. My son, on Sunday June 10th, 2018 cut his toe on something sharp in the water while swimming, resulting in 4 stitches. Please be careful swimming in these waters.

There was an article about Sunken Treasure that was revealed in the lake when it was drained showing finds such as a metal skeleton of a 1960’s Volkswagon Bug, shot guns, rifles, knives, class rings, ice cube trays, a 45 rpm record, empty pull-tab cans, and jewelry. A local prospector with his Bounty Hunter metal detector has found 14 shotguns, handguns, and rifles since 2002 many with their serial numbers filed off. The Bug is believed to have been driven onto the lake when frozen one winter that fell through the ice.


Rated: 3 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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