March 2018


Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

Natural History Outings — Southwest Environmental Center of Las Cruces offers “Back by Noon” Saturday field trips departing from the center at 275 Downtown Mall, Las Cruces. The family-friendly outings showcase some of natural features of the Las Cruces/El Paso area, and are led by a regional expert in wildlife, plant life, art or other field. Bring sturdy shoes, water and a hat. Binoculars recommended. Hikes are free, and open to the public, but space is limited and advance registration required; registration opens three weeks before each hike. Half of slots in each trip reserved for center members. Some minor fees may apply. Information, reservations: (575) 522-5552.
  Hike details available at
March 3: Aden Crater, 8 a.m. Moderate to strenuous.
March 10: Reptiles of the Chihuahuan Desert, 8:30 a.m. Easy.
March 17: Otero Mesa, 8 a.m. Easy, with optional moderate to strenuous petroglyphs hike.
March 24: Spring Raptor Migration, 7 a.m. Easy.
March 31: Anthony Gap Cave, 8 a.m. Strenuous.

DinoTracks Tour — Insights Science Center host its monthly DinoTracks tour 1 to 3:30 p.m. the first Sunday of the month (March 4), at Mt. Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, open to the general public. The tour covers topics such as “Dinosaur & Crocodilian Trace-fossils,” “Volcanism,” “Plate Tectonics,” “Sedimentation & Metamorphic Processes” and more. Wear sun protection, comfortable closed toed shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Cost: $15 per person; available at eventbrite. Information: 534-0000 or
  The 3-mile hiking tour promotes learning in the STEAM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.

Wyler Aerial Tramway — 1700 McKinley. Information: 562-9899 or 566-6622. Hikes begin at the Directisimo trail head. Wear sturdy shoes, weather appropriate clothing, hats and sunscreen; bring walking stick. Strenuous hike, 1,000 feet elevation gain.
• A Women Only Hike is 8 a.m. Sunday, March 4.
• A Last Sunday Hike is 8 a.m. Sunday, March 25.
  Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park is managed by Texas Parks & Wildlife and is also part of Franklin Mountains State Park. To get there: Take Alabama to McKinley and turn toward the mountain.

TecH2O WaterSmart Landscapes Series — El Paso Water's TecH2O Center, 10751 Montana, hosts the second part in its seven-part series on the “Seven Principles of Water Efficient Landscapes” 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10. Participants learn how to identify soils to ensure proper plant selection, as well as how to manage ground resources for the best WaterSmart growing conditions. Information: 621-2000 or
  A double workshop is April 14. In addition to the WaterSmart Landscape Series Part 3 Plant Selection, attendees will also have the opportunity to attend a free Tree Selection workshop where they will learn the importance of proper tree selection and maintenance. Workshop is 9:30 to 11 a.m. with plant selection 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society — The society’s general meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, March 19, at UTEP’s Centennial Museum, 500 W. University. Wildlife rehabilitators Julie Ito Morales and Jaime Morales will talk on “Stick House Sanctuary Wildlife Rehabilitation and Feathered Farm.” Information: Scott, 581-6071 or
  Field trips are open to the public. Information: Mark Perkins, 637-3521 or
• A trip to Leasburg Dam State Park and Mesilla Valley meets at 7 a.m. Saturday, March 10, at the Southwest corner
of the parking lot of Outlet Shoppes of El Paso, I-10 and Transmountain (Talbot entrance), to look for winter passerines, waterfowl, and raptors. Cost: $5 fee per car (covers both parks).
• A trip to Sod Farms and Pancho Villa State Park meets at 7 a.m. Saturday, March 24, behind Sam's car wash (in the parking lot), 7970 N. Mesa, to look for wintering sparrows and raptors. Bring lunch to picnic at Pancho Villa State Park. Car fee: $5.
• Archaeology Museum and Hawk Alley trip meets at 7 a.m. Saturday, April 7, at the museum, 4301 Transmountain, to look for desert birds and raptors. Drive to Hawk Alley with stop at Painted Dunes Golf Course.

El Paso Zoo — 4001 E. Paisano. Zoo Entrance hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Zoo admission is $12 for ages 13 to 59; $9 for ages 60 and older and active duty military (including spouse) with ID; $7.50 ages 3 to 12; and free for ages 2 and under. Zoo members admitted free. Information: 212-0966,, or on Facebook at ElPasoZoo.
  An Easter weekend “Eggstravaganza” is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 31-April 1, with candy stations, food, live entertainment and family activities.
  The “Wings of the World” Bird Show is 12:30 p.m. weekdays and 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. weekends at the new Wildlife Amphitheater.
  “Meet the Keeper” talks are 10:30 to 3:15 p.m. at various locations throughout the zoo. Keepers will on hand to meet with guests, discuss their experiences and talk about the animals.
  “African Star” Train ride tickets are $2 plus tax ($1.50 for children and society members).
  Asian Elephant Training Encounters scheduled at noon daily.
  The El Paso Zoo is a 35-acre home to 228 species of animals. About 420 mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, 106 fish and 294 invertebrates live in a variety of natural habitat exhibits including a Reptile House, South American Pavilion, Americas Aviary, Cisneros Paraje, Birds of Prey Exhibit, Forest Atrium, Asian Grasslands and an Elephant Complex, and the Kalahari Research Station energy exhibit.

Municipal Rose Garden — The garden at 3418 Aurora (at Copia) opens for its season 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily March through November, except for official holidays. The 4-acre garden has many types of roses at the sprawling park area with a waterfall, shade canopy and many other amenities. Admission is free. Information/rentals: El Paso Parks and Recreation, 212-0092 or

Franklin Mountains State Park — Most hiking and mountain-biking trails begin in the Tom Mays area, off Transmountain Drive on the west side of the park (east of I-10).
  Entry fee is $5 per person, free for age 12 and under (with family). Correct cash or check only. Group rates available. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Information: 566-6441 or on Facebook at FranklinMountainsSP. Web:
  Guided hikes and bike rides are $8 per person ($3 State Park Pass holder; $1 children 12 and under); price includes entry. Dogs welcome on leash on some hikes. RSVP required: 566-6441 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday).
  Scheduled hikes begin at the Tom Mays Unit.
• Hike to Ron Coleman Trail is 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 3, as part of the Peak Fitness challenge. Very strenuous hike. Meet at Smugglers Pass parking lot.
Hike to Agave Loop Trail is 10 a.m. Sunday, March 4, meeting in the West Cottonwood Springs Parking lot.
• A BioBlitz is Friday, March 16. Check the park website for details.
Women Only Hike is 8 a.m. Saturday, March 17, at Agave Loop to Cottonwood Spring.
  The park will host various events occurring in the park during the week of Spring Break. Programs include Dutch Oven Cooking, Yoga on the Rocks, Art in the Park, Desert Multi-tools, and Incredible Edibles.
  The 24,000-acre park extends north from the heart of El Paso to the New Mexico state line. The highest point is North Mt. Franklin, 7,192 feet above sea level.

Rio Bosque Wetlands Park — UTEP’s Center for Environmental Resource Management offers free guided walking tours and other activities at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, 10176 Socorro Rd. in El Paso’s Mission Valley. Tours last about two hours. Information: 747-8663 or
• Birding tour is 8 a.m. Sunday, March 4.
• Community workday is 9 a.m. Saturday, March 17.
• Introductory tour is 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24.
  Meeting place is a bridge crossing Riverside Canal. Take Americas Ave. (Loop 375) to Pan American Drive, turn left and travel 1.5 miles.

Keystone Heritage Park and El Paso Desert Botanical Garden — 4200 Doniphan (across from Frontera). Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Tuesdays. Admission: $2 (free for members); $1 children. Information: 584-0563,
  The park’s 2-acre Botanical Garden, funded by the Rotary Club of El Paso and the Junior League, features native plants, amphitheater, butterfly garden, wedding garden, children’s maze, and a Butterfly House.
  Keystone Heritage Park has 189 species of migratory and local birds, and a 4,500-year-old archaeological site.
  Bird watching with the Trans Pecos Audubon Society is 9:30 a.m. to noon the second and last Saturday of the month.
  Keystone’s Chihuahuan Desert Experience (immediately west of the wetland) is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for walking and bird watching.

Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site — Ranch Road 2775 off U.S. 62/180 (Montana Ave.). The site is famed for many Native American rock paintings and unique geology. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Admission: $7 (free for children 12 and younger). Admission including tours or hikes is $9 (13 and over); $2 (ages 5-12). Information: 857-1135, ext. 0, or
  Bring water, hiking shoes and sunscreen for all daytime events:
Special events (space is limited; reservations required). Birding hike is 8 a.m. the third Saturday of the month.
  Reservations are recommended for the self-guided area and for camping: (512) 389-8911.
  North Mountain is available for self-guided day use, for up to 70 people at a time; reservations recommended. There is an annual orientation program for visitors. Guided access is offered to the rest of the site. Picnicking allowed at ten tables closest to headquarters. Wood and charcoal fires are not permitted. Bicycles permitted only on designated paved areas. Pets allowed only in camping or picnic areas. Call for reservations and other information: 857-1135.
  There are campground sites with water and electric hookups, as well as water-only tent sites.

White Sands National Monument — The glistening gypsum dunes are about 15 miles southwest of Alamogordo, N.M., on U.S. 70. Visitor Center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through March 10; hours change after. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through March 10; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 11-April 14 March 11-April 14. Last entrance is one hour before park closes. Entrance fee: $5 age 16 and older. Free for children. Information: (575) 479-6124, ext. 236 or (575) 679-2599, ext. 232; or go to
  Sunset strolls are offered daily one hour before sunset: 5 p.m. through March 10; 6:15 p.m. March 11-30.
  “Skins and Skulls” mammal identification talks are 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
  Ranger-guided Lake Lucero Tour is usually offered on the last weekend of the month, to learn about the formation of the sands and the special plants and animals that live in and around the dunes. Program fee is $8 ($4 age 15 and younger). Check website or call for tour date; reservations required, available one month prior to tour.
  A “Step Through Time” event is 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in the Visitor Center. Visitors will explore the architecture at White Sands National Monument and the construction by New Deal agencies during the 1930s, followed by a tour of the historic district with a walking tour of the grounds.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park — 110 miles east of El Paso on the way to Carlsbad, the 86,416-acre park includes the highest point in Texas: Guadalupe Peak, 8,749 feet. Entry fee: $5 for ages 16 and older, good for one week and all trails. Pine Springs Visitor Center hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Camping is $8 per site per night. Information: (915) 828-3251 or
  The Salt Basin Dunes Day Use Area is now open daily 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset. Located at the east end of Williams Road, east of Dell City.
  Camping for tents and RVs, a nature trail, and ruins of the Butterfield Overland Mail Station are near the Pine Springs center. McKittrick Canyon Visitor’s Center is seven miles east of Pine Springs, and offers nature, canyon and geology trails.
  On the north side of the park, accessible by a 110-mile drive around Carlsbad Caverns, is Dog Canyon Visitor Center and Campground.
  One of the best examples of a Permian Period fossil reef, the national park offers camping and more than 80 miles of trails. Hikes range from easy, wheelchair-accessible nature trails to moderate (level, but rocky) canyon hikes to strenuous mountain hikes.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park — The park is about 160 miles east of El Paso, off the Carlsbad Highway (U.S. 62-180). Information: (575) 785-2232 or
  Winter hours: Visitor Center open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; tours available 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Last entry into cave via natural entrance is 2 p.m. with last entry into cave via elevator 3:30 p.m. (be in line to exit cave by 4:30 p.m.).
  Plan 3-1/2 hours for a walk-in tour and 1-1/2 hours for Big Room tour of the Caverns. Cost is $10 (free or ages 15 and younger). The park’s audio self-guided tour is $3 extra (also available in Spanish).
  Other guided tours are available; call or check website for details.

New Mexico State Parks — Day-use fee is $5 when visiting any state park. All programs are free with park entrance, unless otherwise listed. Information: (575) 744-5998 or
• Oliver Lee State Park, Highway 54 south of Alamogordo at the Dog Canyon turnoff. Information: (575) 437-8284.
  A night sky event focusing on French astronomer Charles Messier is 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 17.
  A First Quarter moon viewing is 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 21.
• Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. 5000 Calle del Norte in Mesilla. Information: (575) 523-4398.
  Audubon Bird Walks are 7:15 a.m. Saturdays, led by park volunteers. Ranger-led Nature Hikes are 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Fitness in Nature walks with the Second Chance Walker Program are 8:30 a.m. every Saturday beginning at the Visitor Center.
Leasburg Dam — 12712 State Park Road in Radium Springs, two miles off Interstate 25 at Exit 19. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for day use. Information: (575) 524–4068.
  Talks on “Oñate the Spanish Conquerer-Neither” debunking common myths about Don Juan de Oñate are 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 7 and 21.
  Magical March skies program is 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10.
  Monthly bird ID walking tours are 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, March 24 and April 28.
  A Stars in Park event is 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 7.
• Percha Dam State Park, 60 miles north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. Information: (575) 743-3942.
  A talk on rattlesnakes is 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 31.
  An Easter Egg Hunt is 1- a.m. to noon Sunday, April 1, for ages 1-12.
  A star program is 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, April 7.
  Blessing of the Bats is 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 14, in celebration of National Bat Appreciation Day.
• Caballo Lake State Park, 60 miles north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. Information: (575) 527-8386.
  A talk on rattlesnakes is 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 31.
  An Easter Egg Hunt is 1- a.m. to noon Sunday, April 1, for ages 1-12.
  A star program is 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, April 7.
  Blessing of the Bats is 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 14, in celebration of National Bat Appreciation Day.
• Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Information: (575) 744-5923.
• Bottomless Lakes State Park — 13 miles east of Roswell, N.M. via US 380. Information: (575) 624-6058.
• Rockhound State Park, five miles south of Deming on State Road 11 and then east on Rockhound Road (State Road 141) for nine miles. Day use hours: 7:30 a.m. to sunset. Information: (575) 546-6182 or (575) 744-5998.
• Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, N.M., State Roads 11 and 9. Day use hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Information: (575) 531-2711.
  The 15th annual Camp Furlong Day commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 10.
• Brantley Lake State Park, 12 miles north of Carlsbad via U.S. 285. Information: (575) 887-5516.
• City of Rocks State Park, off Hwy 61 in Faywood, N.M., about 130 miles west of El Paso. Information: (575) 536-2800.
  Camping fees at state parks are $8 for primitive site; $10 for developed site (electrical hookup $4 extra).

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park — 1504 Miehls Drive N., Carlsbad, N.M. Admission: $5 ($3 ages 7-12; free for 6 and under). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (last entry at 3:30 p.m.). Information: (575) 887-5516.
  The zoo features animals native to the Chihuahuan Desert, in natural desert surroundings. A large greenhouse is devoted to succulents and cactus from around the world. The headquarters building includes exhibits on minerals, history, archaeology and other subjects.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument — 44 miles north of Silver City on NM Highway 15 in the middle of the majestic Gila Wilderness, the first and one of the largest wilderness areas. Entrance fee: $5 per person; $10 per family. Information: (575) 536-9461 or
  The trail to the cliff dwellings is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round. Everyone must be off the trail by 5 p.m. Visitor center is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Alameda Park Zoo — Alameda Park, 1321 North White Sands Blvd. (U.S. 54/70), Alamogordo. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission: $2.50 ($1.50 ages 3-11 and 60 and older; free for ages 2 and younger). Information: (575) 439-4290.
  The oldest zoo in the Southwest (established in 1898) is part of the park that lines Alamogordo’s main highway. The zoo covers about 12 acres, with about 250 exotic and indigenous animals.

Aguirre Spring Campground — The Organ Mountain recreational area, run by the federal Bureau of Land Management, is off U.S. 70 about 15 miles east of Las Cruces. Fifty-five family camping and picnic sites, plus two group areas. Day-use fee is $5 per vehicle; camping fee is $7. Information, group reservations: (575) 525-4300.
  The Baylor Pass (hiking and horseback riding) and Pine Tree (hiking) trails begin at the campground.

Dripping Springs Natural Area — The recreational area, part of the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument, is at the base of the Organ Mountains at the end of Dripping Springs Road (the eastern extension of University Avenue), about 10 miles east of Las Cruces. Gates open 7 a.m. to sunset April through October and 8 a.m. to sunset November through March. Admission: $5 per vehicle. Leashed pets allowed on some trails. Information: (575) 522-1219.

Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park — ?56501 N Jornada Rd, Las Cruces. The park, part of Asombro Institute for Science Education, is northeast of Las Cruces. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Information: (575) 524-3334 or
  To get there: Take I-25 in Las Cruces and head east on U.S. 70. Take the Mesa Grande Road exit (at Oñate High School). Make a U-turn under the highway to head west and stay in the right lane. Turn right (north) on Jornada Road. Follow Jornada Road for 6.4 miles and turn left at the park sign. Follow the entrance road to the parking area and trailhead.
  Asombro Institute for Science Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing scientific literacy by fostering an understanding of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Sitting Bull Falls — The scenic area in the Lincoln National Forest is seven miles southwest of NM 137 on Forest Route 276. The 130-foot falls is one of the highest in New Mexico. Features a picnic area and wheelchair-accessible trails. Entry fee: $5 per car (day use only). Information: (575) 885-4181.

Area hiking websites — A variety of organizations in the El Paso/Las Cruces area offers hiking opportunities. Hikes typically are rated as easy, moderate, or strenuous. Solo or new hikers are welcome.
• offers a variety of groups for all activities, including the El Paso hiking meetup club ( and the Las Cruces hiking meetup club (
• Celebrations of Our Mountains now offers an ongoing calendar of hiking and related events at
• Elpasonaturally is a blog by Jim Tolbert on various environmental topics and includes information about Sunrise Hikers morning events. Information: or
• The El Paso chapter of the Sierra Club posts its hikes at

Chihuahuan Desert Nature Club — Seven El Paso sites participate in the new club helping area residents connect to the location natural environment and learn more about Chihuahuan Desert area plants and animals. Membership is free to all ages.
  To join, persons need to visit one of the Nature Club’s Chihuahuan Desert Hot Spots, pick up a flier, and get a stamp. Once they have visited at least three of the seven participating Hot Spots, show stamped flier and receive an official Chihuahuan Desert Nature Club sticker. Sign up available online at
   Participating locations: Chamizal National Memorial, Don Haskins Recreation Center Nature Trail, El Paso Zoo, Franklin Mountains State Park (Tom Mays Unit), Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, and Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park. Admission fees apply at some sites.

Chihuahuan Desert Resource Institute — The CDRI center and botanical gardens are four miles south of Fort Davis on Hwy 118. Admission: $5 ($4 seniors 65 and older; free children 12 and younger, members). Information: (432) 364-2499 or

Davis Mountains Preserve — The Nature Conservancy preserve is open to the public on designated days, with no admission fee. No pets allowed. All visitors must sign in at McIvor Conservation Center near the preserve’s entrance. Reservations not required for day use, but strongly encouraged for overnight stays: (432) 426-2390, ext. 1 or
  To get there: Take Hwy 118 from Fort Davis to the Lawrence E. Wood picnic area. The preserve gate is about one-quarter mile north of picnic area on left (look for sign).

Chihuahuan Desert Wildlife Rescue — The nonprofit organization that serves West Texas and Southern New Mexico offers resources for those who find a wild bird or mammal in need of help. Information: 772-6011, (575) 882-2910 or
  Uninjured baby birds may be returned to their nest; the mother will not reject them if humans have touched them. If the nest cannot be found, create one with a basket or container with good drainage that can be attached to the tree so the parent bird may find it. If the bird is injured, contact the rescue immediately.

Community Tool Sheds — Keep El Paso Beautiful, in partnership with Paso del Norte Health Foundation, Home Depot and El Paso Fire Department, offers community tool sheds available at area fire stations. The sheds are stocked with push brooms, shovels, rakes, a gas weed eater, gloves and trash bags for use for cleanup or beautification projects. The items may be borrowed for no charge to the public for community cleanup projects. Information: 546-6742.
  Tool sheds are at 5315 Threadgill, 3801 Fort Blvd., 6500 N. Mesa, 7901 San Jose, 11977 Pellicano, 1801 Montana, 6300 Delta and 10834 Ivanhoe.


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