The City of Natural Lakes in Guadalupe County, New Mexico – this city is a Route 66 tourist destination, especially for it’s Blue Hole and recreational activities. It is a relatively small town, with approximately 2,848 residents according to the 2010 Census. It is located at the intersection of I-40, Route 54, and U.S. Route 84 in between Albuquerque and Tucumcari along the Pecos River. In the Northeastern part of the state, the city is west of the staked planes of Eastern New Mexico and west Texas.
The first Euro-American settlement was “Little Black Water” or Aqua Negra Chiquita in 1865 and later changed in 1890 to Santa Rosa after the chapel that Don Celso Baca the city’s founder built and named after Saint Rose o Lima and his mother Rosa. The name also may refer to the roses in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Catholicism of the Spanish colonizers who settled here. The area became pouplar in 1902 with the building of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad went through there and the Northeastern Railway from the southwest. The east-west highway through town was Highway 66 in 1926 making it a popular rest stop with motels and cafes. The city was a scene in John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” and the movie filmed by John Ford for the infamous train scene as well as shooting scenes for Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw.
Santa Rosa has numerous natural lakes which is odd for the dry desert climate making it an oasis of sorts. Numerous sinkholes have formed in the limestone bedrock of the area and filled with water all connected by a network of underground water filled tunnels making it a popular cave diving and scuba training location. The most famous of the sinkholes is the “Blue Hole” which stays cool year round at 61 °F (16 °C) water forms a lake over 81 feet (25 m) deep.
Just 12 miles north of the city of Carlsbad, New Mexico is a large 4,000 acre lake and dam called Brantley Lake. The State Park around its edges hosts a day use area, boat ramp, picnicking tables, rest rooms, playground, grills, and campground. The campground has 51 developed campsites with electricity, water, shower facilities, playground, visitor center, and other amenities. Brantley Lake is a man-made reservoir formed when Brantley Dam was erected across the Pecos River in the 1980’s. It is the southernmost lake in New Mexico and is very popular picnicking, camping, fishing, boating, and water recreation site. The lake is stocked with white bass, bass, walleye, catfish, bluegill, carp and crappie. As of 2018 the State Parks Department does not recommend eating fish from the lake for there was detected high levels of DDT in the fish tested. The campground and day use site can e reached via U.S. 295 by going northeast 4.5 miles down Eddy County Road 30.
We visited in June of 2018. The sites were great though a fire ban prevented use of campfires and grills. High winds nearly broke our 10 x 10 shade structure, so make sure to tie down well. From the campground we had hoped the Lake Loop would take us down to the Lake’s shore, but it didn’t. It was an interesting walk none-the-less. Playground was great, my son had a blast there. At the point of our visit the campground hosts were state troopers so we definitely felt safe.
Soap Lake, Washington ~ 47°23′18″N 119°29′15″W (47.388341, -119.487611) ~
Both a small town and a natural phenomena of a magical healing lake, “Soap Lake” was called “Smokiam” by the Native Americans as “Healing Waters”. It is a soft mineral lake in between Ephrata and Coulee. It is located in Grant County Washington. The abundant mineral within the waters is what is referred to as “washing soda” giving it a suds-like, slippery film feel. The minerals are alkaline which kills most bacteria it comes in contact with without damaging the animal or human the bacteria is living on, and when the tissues repairs itself the massive layers and deposits of mineralization will occur. The lake is very popular as a healing cure for Burgeger and Reynaud’s disease because it opens the capillary and extremity circulation of those affected by it. There are over 20 alkaline mineral salts found in Soap Lake, and is why many gather mud from the bottom of the lake to spread across their bodies for its natural healing effect. The mud sucks out toxins, moisture, and oils from the skin, giving it ability to heal. Combined with sunshine from the desert, it has been known to control psoriasis. The minerals found in Soap Lake are Sodium, Bicarbonate, Sulfate, Carbonate, Chloride, Potassium, Organic Nitrogen, Fluoride, Ortho-Phosphate, Nitrate, Calcium, Magnesium, and less than .01 percent of Iron, Aluminum, Copper, Rubidium, Lithium, Strontium, Barium, Chromium, Lead, Manganese, Titanium, Vanadium, and Boron. The waters have been rumored to cause relief with rheumatoid arthritis, beurgers disease, eczema, psoriasis, raynaud’s syndrom, and paralysis.
This lake is one of its only kinds in the world, and no other lake has been found as such in the world. It drew large crowds of visitors back in the 1920’s. The U.S. military sent young men to Soap Lake to help arrest symptoms of the debilitating disease known as Buergers Disease. Some bathe in hot baths using the water at 104 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, once a day. For capillary dilation, others take 108 degree fahrenheit hot baths for 20 minutes a day. Others just swim in the lake for their skin. Others use the mud combined with the sun for sun tanning while others take mud baths. There are some that even believe in drinking it, but never taking more than 2 ounces four times daily. This however is not recommended. The first layer of the lake has approximately 81 feet of mineral water, the second level is mud-like and consists of a stronger mineral composition with concentrations of unusual substances and microbes. It has been stated that these layers have not mixed for thousands of years, creating the rare condition called meromictic. There are only 11 meromictic lakes in the U.S.
The town has just over 1,500 residents (2010 census). Through the years it has become a busy resort and health spa, had grown to four hotels and various rooming houses making the waters known. It also became a touristy social center with celebrations, festivals, socials, and gatherings held often. This ended around the Depression as a drought hit the lake, dwindling the tourist trade and visitors. When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, new irrigation canals were built, and brought life back into the area. From the 1900’s to the 1940’s, numerous sanitariums were built on the shores to help attract and cure visitors.
Near the historic Smokey Mountains, in Graham County, North Carolina, is a small town built along the shores of Lake Santeetlah. The town and lake share the name. Boasting a population of approximately 67 (census 2000), the town has approximately 200 residences. Santeetlah is located approximately 6 miles north of Robbinsville and only 15 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The lake is surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. The area is a resort community. Established in 1989 as “Santeetlah”, it was changed to “Lake Santeetlah” in 1999. Originally hunting grounds by various Native American tribes, the area was settled very late by westerners. The area was one of the last sections of the eastern United States to be settled by Europeans. A Detroit native named Kenneth S. Keyes, Sr. found the area and exchanged with the Forest service some land he had held for the area and this was then built into the town of Lake Santeetlah. The originally called the property “Thunderbird Estates” with a dream of building a large hotel complex in the area. He never built, and in 1958 he sold the property to another Florida land developer, and from there it went through a couple of exchanges. By the early 1960’s – Smoky Mountain Resorts built a lodge and some cabins here offering much recreation for those seeking a vacation escape. Always short on funding, the resort fell through various ups and downs, until 1971 when it was sold to W. Bennett Collette. Battles, disputes, and law suits flooded the area over a variety of grievances by owners and residents, becoming resolved by the late 1990’s. The lake is popular by outdoor recreationists who fish bass, walleye, crappie, lake trout, and bream in its waters. The Marina on the lake is the only full-serviced marina on a lake that has 76 miles of shoreline. Around the lake is home to over 200 miles of hiking trails, and area known for swimming, camping, hiking, boating, and picnicking.
Fontana Lake * Smokey Mountains National Park, Fontana Dam, North Carolina *
Named after the Italian word for “fountain”, Fontana Lake is named after the flooded town of Fontana, which was the Smokey Mountains infamous lumber and copper-mining hub back in the day at the mouth of Eagle Creek. Now a reservoir contained by Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River. The lake creates the southern boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, separating it from the Nantahala National Forest. The depth, length, and width of the lake varies with the seasons and flood controls by the dam, but at its greatest containment measures approximately 17 miles long with a maximum elevation of approximately 1,710 feet above sea level. The lake is measured as being over 10,230 acres. The lake houses many inlets, coves, and islands formed from former mountain peaks from when it was land, especially by the eastern edge. Many hiking trails weave their ways around the lake, and the lake itself gives access to some of the more remote areas of the National Park. The apalachian trail crosses the top of the dam. Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the eastern U.S., is a hydro-electric dam along the Little Tennessee River that manages the lake and its levels. This was built in the 1940’s.
The memories of Bottomless Lakes State Park … it was my family and friend’s swimming hole and playground while growing up in Roswell, New Mexico. Bottomless Lakes provided much cooling off during the hot and dry summers of the desert. Only Fifteen miles from Roswell, the Lakes are Located along the Pecos River, and are a series of natural caves and sinkholes forming lakes used for recreation. The parks were established in 1933 and was the first State Park founded in New Mexico. There are Eleven small deep lakes along the escarpment of the Pecos River Valley that represents the remains of an ancient limestone reef. Caves formed within this limestone and eventually collapsed via erosion creating sinkholes or “cenotes” as round circular lakes or swimming holes. One of the largest lakes is Lea Lake and Lazy Lagoon, providing a large sandy shoreline that outdoor recreational visitors can use for picnicking, camping, outdoor sports, and swimming. Lazy Lagoon is the largest of the lakes and spans over 26 acres as a single lake but is made up of three interconnected sink holes. The lagoon is level with the salt flats which gives it an appearance of being very shallow, where in contrast, it is actually quite deep – over 90 feet deep. As opposed to the old days, Lea Lake is the only lake in which swimming is allowed, due to accidents that occurred in the others, especially Devil’s Inkwell.
The shallowest is Pasture Lake with a depth of 18 feet and a surface of .76 acres. The deepest are Lea Lake (90 feet deep – only one that allows swimming) and Lazy Lagoon (90 feet/ 26 acres). The smallest of the lakes, is the darkest, known for its color, steep sides, and algae growth, called “the Devil’s Inkwell” and is approximately .36 of an acre. Figure 8 Lake is actually two lakes separated by a thin beach that seasonally gets covered making it look like one lake at times. The circular shapes connecting create the figure 8 symbol. Cottonwood Lake is 30 feet deep, and Mirror Lake at 50 feet. The Lakes are fed by underground streams and aquifers perculating through the rocks up into the catchment holes. The lakes are home to various endangered species and all of the park’s lakes are protected. The four known endangered species found at the park are the Cricket Frog, Eastern Barking Frog, Rainwater Killifish, and the Pecos Pupfish.
The lakes were originally visited frequently by Prehistoric Indians of the region, and in the 1500’s were said to have been visited by Spanish Conquistadors searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. While the Conquistadors did not record their visitation, it is said that the Native Americans drew a petroglyph at the Lakes depicting a Spanish Conquistador riding a horse according to John LeMay’s book “Legends and Lore of Bottomless Lakes” having also appeared in the Roswell New Mexico Centennial Magazine as well.
According to legend, the lakes got their name as “Bottomless” because the outlaw Billy the Kid and his gang who once hid out in the bluffs supposedly dipped their ropes in one lake to see how deep it was and they didn’t hit bottom so called it “Bottomless”. The deepest lake is Leah Lake at 90 feet.
There are numerous legends surrounding the lakes from a Octopus Man, giant turtles, giant catfish, a White Ghost Horse, and a Dragon. There are many legends of people drowning in the muddy depths and being transported by an Underground Artesian river and cave system to Carlsbad Caverns, giant turtles eating people who went missing there, sheep and horses reportedly been swallowed by the lakes, and numerous cars. The only evidence of such legends are remnants of cars at the bottom. Some say atop the lakes cliffs and bluffs, teens had drag-raced and lost their cars over the edges into the lakes. A local boater claimed to have seen a giant turtle surface in the 1980’s large enough to claim Nessie was in the lake and that it came to eat him.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5. ~ Thomas Baurley and Leaf McGowan.
The Eleven lakes are:
Lazy Lagoon – one of the two deepest at 90 feet with a 26.1 acre surface area.
Cottonwood Lake – 27.5 feet deep with .52 acres of surface area and having natural shade over it.
Mirror Lake North – 32.8 feete deep with 3 acres of surface area.
Mirror Lake south – 43.3 feet deep, .44 acre surface area.
Devil’s Inkwell – 28.2 feet deep, .36 acre surface area, has dark algae in it that makes it appear darker than others.
Figure 8 Lake North – 37 feet deep, 1.46 acre surface area. Forms a figure 8 with Figure 8 Lake South, but is an independent lake.
Figure 8 Lake South – 22 feet deep, .76 acre surface area. Forms a figure 8 with Figure 8 Lake North, but is an independent lake.
Pasture Lake – 18 feet deep, the shallowest of the lakes, having a .76 surface area.
Lost Lake – The depth is unknown, and has a surface area of .1 acre.
Lea Lake: the deepest of the lakes with a maximum depth of 90 feet, 2nd largest in acreage at 15 acres surface area. Only lake where swimming is currently allowed and hosts a daily spring flow of 2.5 million gallons.
Dimmit Lake – unknown depth, made up of two basins covering 10 acres, is privately owned.
Breitenbush River & Detroit Lake, Oregon Through the Mount Jefferson Wilderness of the enchanting Cascades of Central Oregon lies a spiritual river known as the Breitenbush. It spurs off the North Santiam River in western Oregon draining one of Oregon’s most rugged Cascadian forests just east of Salem. The Breitenbush river comes from several short forks and it is the South Fork Breitenbush River that begins with creeks from Bays and Russell Lake at the elevation of 6,000 ft flowing West-Northwest. The North Fork Breitenbush River is the most popular as it beigns at Breitenbush Lake joining with another fork passing by Pyramid Lake and is where the infamous Breitenbush Hotsprings reside. The North and South forks flow together just east of the community of Breitenbush where they weave together in a wrapping twisting rhythm of love where they join the North Santiam at Detroit; and its lower 2 miles cut what is now Detroit Lake that is created by the Detroit Dam. Detroit Lake is a reservoir created by the Detroit Dam on the North Santiam River. It’s located roughly 46 miles southeast of Oregon’s capital city – Salem. The lake rests atop the old historical road bed of the former Oregon Pacific Railroad which was built by Colonel T. Egenton Hogg. But due to funding issues, the line never made it past Idanha which was southeast of the lake. The lake was created in 1953 with the completion of the dam, washing out where the railroad sat, now holding 455,000 acre-feet of water when full. This 9-mile (14 km) long lake has shoreline of 32 miles (51 km) when full. Its a very popular location for watersports, swimming, jet-skiing, water-skiing, fishing, and boating. Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife stock the dam with over 125,000 catchable rainbow trout, fingerling rainbow, kokanee and chinook salmon. The lake itself breeds a large population of brown bullhead catfish. Detroit Lake is designated as one of the 32 lakes in the United States for recreation as managed by the U.S. Forestry Service. At a surface elevation of 1,450 feet the lake can seasonally rise to 1,569 feet. Definitely a lake I’d like to spend more time at in the future. Beautiful. Hotspot of the area is Breitenbush Hot Springs.
Blue Mesa Lake and Reservoir * Near Gunnison, Colorado * Right in the heart of the Rugged San Juan’s mountain lies Colorado’s largest body of water and the United States’ largest lake trout and Kokanee salmon fishery. Right along scenic Blue Mesa and U.S. 50 at an elevation of 7,519 feet is a 41,972 acre / 36 mile long river that was created by the Blue Mesa Dam. It has over 96 miles of shoreline. The Dam was completed in 1965 and is the first large dam built along the Gunnison river. The reservoir is located within Curecant National Recreation Area between Montrose and Gunnison; it is surrounded by beautiful mesas, deep canyons, and fjord style lakes. It’s a popular hotspot amongst Coloradoans for its boating, fishing, wind surfing, waterskiing, jetskiing, and winter ice fishing. Along the shores and woods are hunting, ATV trails, hiking, horseback riding and a 5,000 acre archaeological district with the old Narrow gauge Railroad of Gunnison. It’s definitely a wonderful place to visit while in Colorado. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.Continue reading Blue Mesa Lake and Reservoir→