Where's the mysterious Blue Lake?

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of June 5-11, 1997
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Where's the mysterious Blue Lake?
Question: I've heard something about a deep, blue lake somewhere in New Mexico, possibly near Taos. Any idea what I'm looking for?

Mark Blakmore
Chama, NM
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Residing in Chama, you've obviously heard of the quasi-blue Heron Lake about 20 miles southwest of you. Heron Lake was my first guess, but because you're familiar with that, I have two other possibilities — one of which isn't even a lake.

The first possibility is the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa. An 80-foot deep artesian spring, with crystal-clear 64-degree water year-round, the Blue Hole is a famously popular destination for divers in the five-state region. They drive from Denver, Dallas, and Kansas to get certified in open-water diving. If you drive through on an early June weekend, you'll be overwhelmed by wetsuits and sport utility vehicles, but the dive is worth it. The water is clear as a bell and there are goldfish planted by a Colorado dive instructor to give you the true feeling of Tropicana. Santa Rosa is 114 miles east of Albuquerque off I-40. For more information call the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce at 505-472-3763.

My second guess, which is what I think you're referring to, is Blue Lake. Located deep in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range east of Taos, Blue Lake is sacred to Taos Pueblo Indians and is off-limits to everyone else. Even if you do stumble upon it, the lake is on Taos Pueblo land, and it is absolutely forbidden to take photos. If you are really ambitious, however, and want to take a quick peek at the lake from non-forbidden territory, hike to Williams Lake (approximately 3 miles from the trailhead starting at Taos Ski Valley). From there you'll have a hefty climb up the side walls of the lake to the top of the ridge where you can walk until you see the glittering, blue lake to the east. But unless you want spirits haunting you for the rest of your life, leave your camera at home.

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