Summer Guide

Just Keeping Swimming

As heat rises, visit these spots to get wet and cool off

As temperatures in the high desert climb higher and higher each year, it’s best to know when and where you can take a break from the heat, whether you’d prefer kayaking, taking a day trip to a nearby lake or a dip in the nearest pool.

Abiquiú Lake

Abiquiú Lake’s public beach and recreational area lies roughly 60 miles north of Santa Fe and 8 miles west of Abiquiú. You can swim, boat and even bring a surfboard to try out the Abiquiú Wave—a man-made wave created by the Army Corp of Engineers and others—or take a kayak, canoe or other boat of choice to the lake (and the wave). Make sure to find a rental ahead of time, as the site offers none. Abiquiú Lake is also a great place for anyone interested in fishing and packed with varieties from walleyes to bluegills.

Blue Hole

1085 Blue Hole Road, Santa Rosa, (575) 472-3763,

Ever wanted to learn how to scuba dive? Santa Rosa, an hour and 45-minute drive from Santa Fe, offers the opportunity at the Blue Hole, a clear, bell-shaped sinkhole lake connected to six other sinkhole lakes via water-filled caverns, along with a facility dedicated to scuba diving. It’s one of the most popular destinations in the country for diving and training, and you can swim recreationally as well as train in scuba diving (as long as you have a permit). To dive into the Blue Hole, purchase a $25 SCUBA permit good for one week at the Blue Hole Center or Dive Shop (or an annual permit for $75). This lake also hosts a variety of aquatic creatures, but leave your poles at home—no fishing allowed.

Heron Lake State Park

640 State Road 95, Los Ojos, (575) 588-7470

This scenic body of water approximately 110 miles northwest of Santa Fe (and 20 miles south of Chama) has been designated a “quiet lake,” where boats may only operate at slow speeds, making it the perfect place to kayak, canoe, paddle board and fish for some lake trout. You’re also welcome to swim in these waters.

Jemez Hot Springs

040 Abousleman Loop, Jemez Springs, (575) 829-9175

For a more relaxing environment for swimming, consider the Jemez Hot Springs’ pools, just 90 minutes from Santa Fe. While these pools may not necessarily cool you down in the summer—the temperatures vary between 98 and 105 degrees fahrenheit—the springs’ proprietors say the therapeutic mineral water rich in calcium, magnesium, lithium, potassium, iron, silica and more is said to increase circulation, relax muscles and calm the mind.

Nambé Falls Lake

In the Pueblo of Nambé's lake and recreation area, combine a short hike with your water adventures! When arriving at the site 34 miles north of Santa Fe, find two quarter-mile trails ahead: one leading up to view the lake’s famous waterfalls from above, the other leading to a beach at the lake’s lowest pool. If you choose the lower trail, you’ll have to traverse a connected river, so prepare to get wet and wear the appropriate attire (water shoes, shorts, bathing suit, etc.) You can also rent a kayak (and/or a fishing pole and tackle box) while at the Nambé Falls Lake, but any other watercrafts are up to you.

Ojo Santa Fe

As is the case with Jemez Hot Springs, Ojo Santa Fe mostly offers warm therapeutic pools at varying temperatures (with all-day soaking day passes available). But visitors will also find a junior Olympic-size saltwater swimming pool, generally kept at 75 to 80 degrees, amid the cottonwood trees.

Public Pools in Santa Fe

If you’d prefer to stay in town while you cool off, splash in some water or get some laps in, Santa Fe has several public pools open during the summer, although a notable lack of outdoor ones.

On the Southside, the Genoveva Chavez Community Center pool comes complete with a kids’ area and slides, while the Santa Fe Community College’s pool leans toward fitness. Head to Midtown for the Salvador Perez Recreation Complex pool (which is not open on Saturdays or Sundays, but has cool murals from Santa Fe’s Alas de Agua Art Collective that are worth checking out). And in the heart of downtown Santa Fe? The Fort Marcy Recreation Complex’s six-lane lap pool is ideal for busting out that butterfly stroke.

If you’d prefer to get some sun as you swim, the pools at Bicentennial Alto Park or the Santa Fe Tennis & Swim Club have outdoor options. Eldorado residents who are members of the Homeowners Association can enjoy Eldorado’s Community Improvement Association pool just outside town. Note: As of press time, Bicentennial’s seasonal opening was delayed due to repairs until further notice. El Rey Court also offers day and $750 seasonal passes (the latter sells out quickly and includes unlimited access, guest passes and swag), where swimmers and loungers can enjoy a pop-up bar on the weekends.

Bicentennial Pool, 601 Alta Vista St., 1121 Alto St., (505) 955-4779

Eldorado Community Improvement Association, 1 La Hacienda Loop, (505) 466-4248 (only available to Eldorado homeowners)

Fort Marcy Recreation Complex, 490 Bishops Lodge Road, (505) 955-2500

Genoveva Chavez Community Center, 3221 W Rodeo Road, (505) 955-4000

Salvador Perez Recreation Complex 601, Alta Vista St., (505) 955-2607

Santa Fe Community College William C. Witter Fitness Education Center, 6401 Richards Ave., (505) 428-1615

Santa Fe Tennis & Swim Club, 1755 Camino Corrales, (505) 988-4100

El Rey Swim Club, 1862 Cerrillos Road, (505) 441-1952

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story did not indicate Eldorado’s pool is only available to residents; SFR regrets the error.

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