The Blue Hole of Santa Rosa – A Scuba Diver’s Oasis
A Watery Oasis in the High Desert
Great big surprises can come in small packages. The Blue Hole is one of those surprises. Mid-way between Albuquerque and Amarillo in the town of Santa Rosa, NM, a natural spring fed lake is a respite oasis going as far back as the days of cowboys and indians. Part of a seven lake system in the area, it was once a hatchery, a recreation area and now a dive training and conference center.
I didn’t know what to expect on my first visit to the Blue Hole. Watching people walk up the stone steps, I thought it must be over the hill. As I got closer to the crowds, I was so wrong. Right on the edge of the parking lot, was the most gorgeous hue of blue water I have ever seen. And I’ve seen some water in my days.
Formed by a naturally occurring sinkhole, “blue holes” can be found across the globe. The waters’ clarity makes it a divers dream. Santa Rosa’s Blue Hole has incredibly clear water with visibility of 100′ The outflow of water is 3000 gallons per minute, which means the water is completely recycled every 6 hours. This also keeps the temperature a stable 61 degrees. The top side diameter is 60 ft, however the bottom expands like a bell to a diameter of 130 ft.
Divers come from hours away to participate in certification dives and others come to dive this Blue Hole. The day I visited, there were at least a half-dozen tents for dive companies. It all seemed very orderly and divers took turns with their group in the water. A fact to know if you plan to visit, due to its elevation of 4616 ft., divers must use altitude adjustable gauge tables.
During breaks, young divers took advantage of the rock formations for some fun. Someone got cold feet at the last second, but eventually jumped.
The large red and white buoys in the middle of the water are guide lines that divers hold on to when descending toward the bottom. I have to admit, learning to scuba dive is on my bucket list. But the “dive wear” intimidates me and my “ample frame”. Maybe one day?
The Blue Hole is NOT just for divers.
This watery oasis is open to swimmers also. With the water temp of 61 degrees, swimmers didn’t stay in the water for extended amounts of time. Many took frequent warm-up periods in the sun. There is a small area with picnic tables making it an ideal afternoon picnic outing. Simple tailgating is also an option. Seating around the water is limited to a few rock ledges.
All ages took the challenge to jump from the rocky ledge. Jumpers watch for bubbles directly under the ledge. When the area is clear of divers, the jumping begins. I didn’t see any life guards, so swimming and jumping are at your own risk.
Whether you want to dive or take a leisurely dip, the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa is a little oasis for everyone.
A wonder of nature to be enjoyed and treasured.
Cost: $5.00 Parking Fee; Divers must buy a $20 Scuba permit