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Bottomless Lakes road closed after flooding

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Flooding in early October has damaged a bridge on State Road 409, which has led to the closing of the main entrance into Bottomless Lakes State Park. Visitors have to use an alternative route through Dexter. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The heavy rains at the start of October caused Bottomless Lakes State Park to close for a few days, and the main road into the park remains shut down due to a damaged bridge.

People wanting to visit must take an alternative route for a while, said Dennis Vasquez, field operations bureau chief for the New Mexico State Parks Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

The phone service to the state park office is also down because of the rains, with parks staff unable to say at this time when phone service will be restored.

The Bottomless Lakes State Park website refers people to a phone number for the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park in Carlsbad and gives driving directions through Dexter to the south portion of Bottomless Lakes.

“Campers and day users do have access to the park, but if campers choose not to use that (alternative route) or it is an inconvenience,” Vasquez said, “then we have been making refunds through our online reservation system.”

That system is ReserveAmerica, reserveamerica.com.

Vasquez said that the park did not lose any structures, facilities or water systems due to the flooding, but that staff are having to clean up mud, gravel and debris that flowed into some campsites with the heavy rains and flooding that started in the area about Oct. 1.

Visitors and campers at the park at that time were asked to leave because of concerns about the road, and the park was closed until Oct. 4.

But the New Mexico Department of Transportation has kept the northern portion of State Road 409 off of U.S. 380 east of Roswell closed due to erosion to a bridge near River Road, according to DOT spokeswoman Manon Arnett and Vasquez.

Arnett said that construction is scheduled to start this week, and will probably take about two weeks, if weather permits. The project is estimated to cost about $50,000.

“Usually it is a dry wash going under that bridge,” Vasquez said. “It was a pretty raging flow of water, so it undercut the bridge. The bridge is standing, but it needs to be refilled.”

To access the park now, visitors can head east on Shawnee Road in Dexter, also known as State Road 190 East. That veers north into Wichita Road (or County Road 1, also called State Road 409 as it nears the park’s southern entrance).

“People should know that there was a major flooding event that was going on, but the park is open for business,” Vasquez said.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.