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  1. #1

    Default Blue Hole near Santa Rosa, NM

    Here are some pictures of an unlikely dive site--Blue Hole just off I-40 in Santa Rosa, NM. Depth of cave below grate is 135', temp is 61 degrees, viz guestimated at 80'-100'. The odd shaped picture is a perspective-adjusted panorama created by combined three photos.
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  2. #2

    Default Blue Hole, NM

    In early July we spent the night in Santa Rosa on our way back from Arizona and before continuing on our journey the following day we stopped by the Blue Hole to check it out. I wasn't really keen on diving it until I got there, and then I wanted to but I had some equipment issues I had to deal with on my dive gear, which I could not fix until getting back to Florida.
    But, this spot is definitely on my list to dive the next time I pass through this area -- even if I have to go out of my way to get there. (Although it is right off I-40.)
    It is easy to dive here, just go to city hall and pay the fee -- which as I recall is a small amount. You can solo dive as well from what I was told in July.
    And they are building a new dive shop, which will be right there on site.
    I hear that the locals like to swim there a lot during the summer and that people use it for diving from all over. Also, I was told that the grate was about 80 feet down or so and that blocks a cave that will not be opened to anyone at any time due to some divers dying there years ago and liability concerns.
    It was a nice looking spot and I was sorry I could not dive there in July but I'll be back....
    (If you dive here keep the altitude in mind if you head west after the dive.)

  3. #3


    Good point on the altitude (4,600'). Forget to mention that. Here is a link for more info on the site: http://www.dtmag.com/dive-usa/locati...eStRosaNM.html

  4. #4
    Administrator Forum Admin
    Join Date
    Oct 2000


    Can you get permission to dive past the grate? Has it been explored?

    Forrest Wilson (with 2 Rs)
    Any opinions are personal.
    Sump Divers

  5. #5
    Special Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Southport (Panama City), FL


    Quote Originally Posted by FW View Post
    Can you get permission to dive past the grate? Has it been explored?

    Doesn't look like an option. I read a story somewhere about the original exploration, but can't find it now. It was hard-copy, but darn if I remember what book.

    I Semper Fi, Cameron David Smith, my son, my hero. 11/9/1989 - 11/13/2010

    Never forget, we were all beginners once. Allain Burrese

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by FW View Post
    Can you get permission to dive past the grate? Has it been explored?
    Don't think they (whoever "they" are) allow diving beyond the grate, but don't really know. I know that you have to check in with the local city hall to get permission to dive.

    In terms of exploration, Sheck Exley and Dan Lenihan have both dove it and report that the cave below the grate in Blue Hole is 135 feet deep. The sign at the springs says the depth is 81'.

    There are are diving videos on Blue Hole on YouTube. Do a search on"blue hole santa rosa nm."


  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by FW View Post
    Can you get permission to dive past the grate? Has it been explored?
    When I was there in July asking around and speaking with various people it seemed to very much not be an option at this time. If the right people came along at the right time though...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Wellington, Colorado


    I have dove there at least a hundred times. The grate is permanent and does not open. You could dig around the backside for a long time and maybe get in... maybe.
    It has been in place at least 20 years according to the lady (Stella) who does gas fills. It would be cool to know where it goes!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Homeless, USA


    Another example of the nanny-state "protecting" people from themselves. I think all the judges and sheriffs and politcos involved in dynamiting and blocking off these caves should be convicted of some type of crime.

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by FW View Post
    Can you get permission to dive past the grate? Has it been explored?
    I contacted Dan Lenihan to ask about Blue Hole because I knew he dove it before it was grated. Dan is the author of Submerged: Adventures of America's Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team (great book BTW), an underwater archeologist, former chief of the US National Park Service Submerged Cultural Resources Unit (SCRU, or as he says, one of the all-time great Government acronyms), and a old time Florida and Mexico cave diver from the 1970s. He provided the following info on the spring:


    Indeed they arrived in good shape, thanks.

    Re the Blue Hole. The basin of the sink is about 81 feet at its deepest except right at the grate which is 87' deep. Before the grate was put in, Sheck, his first wife Karan and I dived it on Sept16, 1974. My log says my max depth was 125' but I could see places ten foot deeper--it reached about 135'. We could see no further leads worth checking out. The temperature of the water is a constant 62 degrees.

    By coincidence, last week I was going through old correspondence from Sheck and cave diving files and noted where Sheck also referred to it as being 135'. I think it was in a report he wrote for the NSS CDS newsletter about our dive in 1974. If I can find the darn thing, I'll fax a copy.

    The NM State Police had already been in the Blue Hole at that time and did so again in 1976 for a body recovery--a very long story. Anyway, they claimed they were 180' deep and reached a place they dubbed the "papoose room" and from there, they said it dropped further beyond sigh, well over 200' deep--they even did a painting of the supposed lower portion on the wall of a local restaurant.

    I believe they were wrong about their reports and drawings etc., not because they lied, but because they, and others who dived the area at the time were confused over depth readings at altitude. Most divers around here used capillary gauges because they thought they were the only gauges that read accurately at 5000' elevation. What they were confusing was the fact that a capillary gauge is an 'open system' and its max depth reading actually did your altitude conversions for you--but they were not accurate--they were even further off than than the oil-filled gauges of the time--but on the conservative side. Their gauges probably read 160-165 and because of the tiny increments between numbers on a capillary gauge after 33,' it is quite possible that they honestly thought they were at 160-180 ft. deep.

    For about 15 years or so the grate was covered with 8-10 feet of sediment. In 2000, I set up a project with the mayor of Santa Rosa to clean that stuff out so the spring could flow freely again . We (my park service team) engaged in a cooperative effort with the State Police dive team to airlift the silt out (two truck loads!). Heres a writeup of the operation by the SP that I found on line-- http://www.zianet.com/miked/diveteam...lue%20Hole.htm

    In short, I don't think the Blue Hole is worth the effort although if Forrest or anyone else with his sort of qualifications wants to try something around here I'll give what help and information I can. I haven't had dealings with the mayor or the SP for four or five years now, so I don't know what kind of influence I would have anymore.

    Although you didn't mention it, there is another sinkhole a few miles away from Blue Hole on private ranchland called Rock Lake. Sheck always wanted to come out and do a sneak dive with me at Rock Lake but I couldn't because, unlike when I was in Florida, I was part of the Federal and State establishment here. However, I got access to it in the early 1990s and was able to report back to him that it didn't have any leads we could see. That hole is 295' deep but has some temperature variation during winter because there is a mix of surface water.

    Hope this helps--I'll pass on to Forrest or other qualified cave divers whatever I know about the area should they decide to give it a look-see. However, I can't be very encouraging. There are a couple more places but they are probably not worth their time.



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