Blue Hole is an 80-foot-deep blue gem in the desert. This scuba diving training site and swimming hole is located right along historic Route 66.
East of Albuquerque near Santa Rosa, NM
When the summer temperatures soar in Albuquerque, finding a pretty, blue, clear, pristine diving hole is a gem. We had seen the billboards for The Blue Hole often when traveling along I40, east of the Albuquerque, but never had the time to stop and check it out. This can definitely be considered a fun and quick roadside attraction located on Historic Route 66 to cool off while traveling on a road trip east/west across New Mexico. The Blue Hole was selected as one of the “Best Natural Swimming Holes in the US” by Conde Naste in 2012. However, the Blue Hole is much more. It is also one of the most traveled destinations in the country for scuba divers to train. In fact, the Blue Hole’s primary purpose is being a well maintained facility dedicated to scuba diving training.
This former fish hatchery turned Recreation Area seems to appear like magic out of the desert and mesas that surround Santa Rosa. Crystal clear water allows amazing visibility in this 80’ deep by 60’ wide geological phenomenon. The water comes from an artisan spring well and completely renews itself every 6 hours, so it’s never the same lake twice! This natural spring fed lake has an outflow of 3,000 gallons per minute. And, there are deep water filled caverns extending below. Swimmers will notice dozen of scuba divers down below training on three platforms. Oh and the temperature? It is a constant 62 degrees year round. Brrr is an understatement!
If you want to try it out, your options are to scuba dive in a wet suit, or brave the icy cold water in your swimsuit. My son had wanted to check out the Blue Hole all summer, so a friend and I decided to take our kids out to Santa Rosa to take one last dip of summer fun the weekend before school started back up. We were there on a 94 degree sunny day and the scorching heat helped persuade me to take the plunge off a concrete diving board landing and jump feet first into the shockingly cold water. We wanted to be the cool moms and this was certainly a lesson in bravery. How could I convince my own kids they would want to jump into 62 degree water if I wasn’t willing to do it myself? The buddy system always works well with me, so I grabbed my friend’s hand and we walked off the ledge together with a loud “whoop.” I am not sure if we were “whooping” surviving another fun summer with our children on summer vacation and the fact that they were going back to school shortly, or if we were just totally freaked out about making the plunge. The jump into the arctic water sent a shock thru my body and it made me understand more the fact that there are a couple of lifeguards on site. You almost lose your bearings from the immediate shock. There are concrete steps to enter and exit easily and I was thankful for them as I fumbled my way out of the cold water. While we were there, we did see a lifeguard dive in and guide an older gentleman to the stairs as he seemed to not be weak swimmer and to be having difficulty making his way back to the stairs.
For the more adventurous, there are also ledges that sit high on one side of the Blue Hole where you can cliff dive and jump. Of course, the kids were feeling adventurous and headed straight for the ledges and skipped the “mom ledge.” The Blue Hole was bustling with curious bystanders and swimmers this Sunday afternoon we visited, but the sense of excitement and support the crowds gave the brave (or crazy) jumpers made the experience even more fun. The kids jumped in without incident, quickly swam to the exit steps, and were eager to jump again. Then the kids spent a surprisingly long amount of time in the cold water just exploring and swimming around. We had only brought one pair of goggles for all of us, and they were handy. The kids took turns using them to discover the small lake. The kids had wished they had brought snorkel masks, as well so I recommend bringing them for your family to play with. They enjoyed peering down thru the aquamarine clear water and spotting scuba divers way down below. There are also a lot of fish and plant life in this lake-like habitat to spy underwater.
After the kids jumped a few more times and frolicked in the water, they were ready to head next door to Park Lake, where a floating playground called a wibit, as well as a water slide, was calling them. You will pass Park Lake en route to The Blue Hole and it is actually situated right next door and shares the same $5 parking pass/day. See our Park Lake sidetrack for more information. Together, this made a super fun day trip of mega water fun for these Albuquerque kids on a sizzling hot August day!