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Score Plenty of Outdoor Activities in Roswell, NM

Enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking and scuba diving (yes, scuba diving!) in this desert oasis.

By Cary Estes on December 9, 2022

Paddleboarding at Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell, NM
Nathan Lambrecht

The landscape is expansive in Roswell and the surrounding area, with vistas that seemingly stretch on forever. And the list of outdoor activities in Roswell and the surrounding region is just as expansive.

Set among some of the nation’s most spectacular natural features, Roswell offers access to all manner of outdoor activities. There are numerous places for hiking, biking, golfing, kayaking and even scuba diving.

“Roswell has a large variety of offerings for outdoor recreation, whether you’re young, a family with children or seniors,” says Juanita Jennings, public affairs director for the City of Roswell. “There is something for everybody to do, and so many reasons for people to get out of their homes.”

While the Roswell area definitely has desert characteristics, there are plenty of green spaces to enjoy as well.

J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary in Roswell, NM
Nathan Lambrecht

Go Bird Watching in Roswell

A highlight is the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary & Nature Center, a 15-acre oasis with 2 acres of natural ponds and a trail that runs along the Spring River.

“It’s a great location for bird enthusiasts,” Jennings says. “There are more than 35 different bird species that come through that sanctuary. You can go there for solitude and quiet. It’s where one can really be with nature.”

Birds – and bird watchers – also flock to Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a renowned migratory center that has multiple paths for walking and cycling. The refuge serves as a temporary home for more than 26,000 sandhill cranes that pass through during fall migration.

Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell, NM
Nathan Lambrecht

Enjoy Hiking, Biking and Diving

A series of bluffs sits just to the east of Roswell, surrounding several sinkholes. The most popular is at Bottomless Lakes State Park.

While it is not truly bottomless, the greenish-blue lake does reach a depth of 90 feet, making it ideal for a variety of non-motorized watersports, including scuba diving.

Not far from Bottomless Lakes is a 2.8-mile loop mountain biking trail called Skidmarks, one of the multitudes of cycling (and hiking) trails throughout the region. The trails at Bitter Lake include a 2.3-mile loop that leads to the edge of the water, providing front-row viewing of the migratory birds.

Get Active!

There are 627 acres of parks with 11.2 miles of recreational trails for walkers and bikers in Roswell.

Back in town, the Spring River Recreation Trail stretches for more than 4 miles and passes several local parks, including Enchanted Lands Park, which has an 18-hole disc golf course and a playground. A branch of the trail leads into the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary.

“It is easy to bike around Roswell because it’s fairly flat,” says Daniel Cederberg, who co-owns Moon Rock Outfitters with his wife, Megan. “Also, you can bike most of the year because the weather is mild during the winter.

“You can get around pretty much everywhere without needing to drive. We have fairly wide roads to accommodate cyclists and cars. It’s just a really nice area to bike around and enjoy high-desert topography and weather.”

Roswell Recreation & Aquatic Center in Roswell, NM
Nathan Lambrecht

Make a Splash in Roswell

While there are plenty of natural outdoor activities in Roswell, the city also created one just a few years ago. The new Roswell Recreation & Aquatic Center is a $22 million facility with more than 40,000 square feet of space for a slew of activities.

The facility contains an eight-lane indoor pool, an outdoor pool with two waterslides, four basketball courts, two volleyball courts, a pickleball court, an indoor soccer field, meeting rooms, a multipurpose room that can be used for birthday parties and other events, and a concourse/concession area. Oh, there also is a skatepark.

“That was a dream project for us,” Jennings says. “It’s tailored to health, fitness and recreational programming.”

And the list goes on. Golfers can hit the links at the Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River, the Country Club of Roswell, and the New Mexico Military Institute Golf Course. In addition, it is only a two-hour drive to the Sacramento Mountains, one of the southernmost ski areas in the country.

There are dozens of trails available for skiing and snowboarding (and mountain biking during the warmer months), along with zip lines, golf courses, and shopping and restaurants.

“We also have some amazingly beautiful sunrises and sunsets around here,” Jennings says. Just another great way to begin and end an active day in Roswell.

Get to Know Roswell

Want to learn more about living and working in Roswell? Check out the latest edition of Livability Roswell-Chaves County, New Mexico.

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