June 2017


Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

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 elpasozoo.org.
  Zoo After Howlers extended summer hours are Saturdays, June 17, July 8 and Aug. 19. Zoo open until 8:30 these nights; last entry at 7 p.m.
  The Reptilia celebration of snakes, lizards and more 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4.
  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 2017 week-long Zoo Camps, exploring the worlds of Reptiles and Birds for ages 6 to 10 are 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday July 3-Aug. 11. Cost: $100 per week; $90 zoo members.
  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.

Wyler Aerial Tramway — National Trails Day hike is 8 a.m. Saturday, June 3, beginning at the tramway parking lot, 1700 McKinley. Bring water, sturdy shoes, weather appropriate clothing, and snacks for a two-mile hike up Ranger Peak. Participation is free. Information: 562-9899 or 566-6622.

Full Moon Nights — White Sands National Monument, 15 miles southwest of Alamogordo, N.M., on U.S. 70, hosts monthly full moon programs through October. 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 nps.gov/whsa.
  The 1st Armored Division Band’s “Iron Outlaws” perform at is 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 9, as part of the Full Moon Nights series. The band performs a variety of music from classic favorites to contemporary hits. No reservations required.
  “Songs and Stories of National Parks,” is 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 8, with rangers Megan and Gary presenting storytelling and music from the nation’s parks.

El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society — The society’s field trips are open to the public. Information: Mark Perkins, 637-3521 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.
• A field trip to Rattlesnake Springs, part of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, departs at 6 a.m. from Evergreen Cemetery, 12400 E. Montana Saturday, June 10, to car pool. Bring a lunch and plenty of water.
• Upper Valley Sunset Tour meets at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at Keystone Heritage Park, 4200 Doniphan, to carpool the Upper Valley area looking for Mississippi Kites, Monk Parakeets, Violet-crowned Parrots and others.

Father’s Day Family Campout — Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, Ranch Road 2775 off U.S. 62/180 (Montana Ave.) is June 17-18, with check-in at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with hiking, Dutch oven cooking, cowboy campfire stories, stargazing and more. Space is limited to 15 family (six members per family max); reservations required. Cost: $9 per person ($2 age 5-12). Information, reservations: 857-1157 or texasstateparks.gov.

Rain Water Harvesting Workshop — Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
hosts the workshop 10 a.m. to noon June 24, at Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center, 1380 A&M Circle, with a take home rain barrel for participants. Registration: $50 prepayment (nonrefundable); no registration day of event. Registration at Information: 771-2354 or txmg.org/elpaso.
  Attendees learn and use information to construct a 55-gallon rain barrel and discuss installing an efficient irrigation system.
  Individuals must register and prepay to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, El Paso County Ascarate Annex, 301 Manny Martinez Sr. Drive, 2nd Floor. Make Check payable to “El Paso County Master Gardener Assn.”

Gardening 101 — El Paso Master Gardeners offers a free workshop 4 to 5:30 p.m. the first Friday of the month through Aug. 4 at El Paso Multipurpose Center, 9031 Viscount, in partnership with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and Office of Resilience and Sustainability. Information: 212-0115, gardenep@elpasotexas.gov or on Facebook. Register online at elpasotexas.gov/ORS.

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: tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/franklin-mountains.
  Guided hikes and bike rides are $3 additional fee ($1 ages 5-12; under 5 free). Bring water, snacks, sturdy shoes/boots, hiking stick, maps and binoculars. Dogs welcome on leash on some hikes. Reservations required: 566-6441 ext. 221, 224 or adrianna.weickhardt@tpwd.state.tx.us.
  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 in El Paso’s Mission Valley. Tours last about two hours. Information: 747-8663 or riobosque.org.
• Introductory tours is 8 a.m. Sunday, June 4.
• Bird tours is 6:30 a.m. Saturday, June 10.
• Community workday is 8 a.m. Saturday, June 17.
  Meeting place is a bridge crossing Riverside Canal. Take Americas Ave. (Loop 375) to Pan American Drive, turn left and travel 1.5 miles.

Municipal Rose Garden — The garden at 3418 Aurora (at Copia) is open to the public 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily late March through November, except for official holidays. The 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, 541-4331.

Keystone Heritage Park and El Paso Desert Botanical Garden — 4200 Doniphan (across from Frontera). Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission: $3 (free for members). Information: 584-0563, keystoneheritagepark.org or elpasobotanicalgardens.org.
  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.
  The site is open for bird watching 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 daily from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 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). Additional activity cost for tours (including morning hike): $2 (free for age 4 and younger). Information: 857-1135 or texasstateparks.gov. Reservations are recommended for the self-guided area and for camping: (512) 389-8911.
  A Women’s Only Hike is 9 a.m. Saturday, June 10, for women who are not normally comfortable with the outdoors. Space limited to 25 persons; reservations required: 849-6684.
  A Rare Plant Tour is 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 10. Limited to 10 participants.
  Yoga on the Rocks Tour is 7 a.m. Saturday, June 10. Spots are limited to 10; reservations are recommended.
  Birding tour is 7:30 a.m. Saturday, June 17. Advance sign-up encouraged; space limited to 25 guests.
  Father’s Day Family Campout is June 17-18, with check-in at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with hiking, Dutch oven cooking, cowboy campfire stories, stargazing and more. Space is limited to 15 family (up to six members per family); reservations required.
  Stargazing is 8 p.m. Thursday, June 22, with stories, and planetary viewing. Binoculars and telescopes welcome; but not required. Space available on first come, first serve basis.
  Other tours available; call 849-6684 or 857-1135.
  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, as well as water-only tent sites.
  Reservations required for all hikes, unless listed otherwise. Space is limited on all hikes. Cost per hike: $9 age 13 and older; $2 age 5-12.

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 7 p.m. through Sept. 10. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. through May 27; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 28-Sept. 2. 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 nps.gov/whsa.
  Sunset strolls are offered daily one hour before sunset; 7 p.m. through Aug. 6.
  “Skins and Skulls” mammal identification talks are 3 p.m. daily through Sept. 4.
  Full Moon Hikes are 8 p.m. Thursday, June 8, and Friday, July 7. Reservations required starting one month in advance of each hike; online only. Cost: $8; $4 age 15 and young, plus monument entrance fees.
  The 1st Armored Division Band’s “Iron Outlaws” perform at is 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 9, as part of the Full Moon Nights series. The band performs a variety of music from classic favorites to contemporary hits. No reservations required.
  Next month’s Full Moon Night is “Songs and Stories of National Parks,” at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 8.
  The Mexican Arts Show and Sale is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 1-2, on the visitor center patio at White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, as part of its Step Through Time series. Admission is free to the show and sale; pots range from $20 to museum quality pieces.

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 nps.gov.
  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 nps.gov/cave.
  Hours through May 28: 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 p.m. (be in line to exit cave by 4:30 p.m.).
  Summer hours run May 29-Sept 4: Last entry into cave via natural entrance is 4 p.m. Last entry into cave via elevator is 5 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).
  The “bat season” generally lasts from April or May through mid-October. Daily bat flight talks begin at 7:30 p.m. (about 15 minutes long) are offered just before sunset at the amphitheater outside the natural entrance. Admission is free. Then — bats willing — visitors are treated to the sunset spectacle of clouds of bats flying out of the cave entrance. Best flights are usually in August and September.
  Bird banding of the cave swallows is the first Friday of the month through October in the amphitheater.
  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. Camping fees: $8 for primitive site; $10 for developed site (electrical hookup $4 extra). All programs are free with park entrance, unless otherwise listed. Information: (575) 744-5998 or nmparks.com.
• 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.
• Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Information: (575) 744-5923.
  Wounded Warrior adaptive water sports are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, June 2-4, for wounded warriors, warriors in transition and members of the general public.
  Boating Safety Classes are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 10 and July 15.
  The 26th annual Chili Cookoff is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 10.
  American Bass fishing tournament is 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 10.
  Boat, RV and Adventure Show is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, June 16-18.
  Sandcastle Competition is noon to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 16-17, with competitions for various age groups.
  The annual Fireworks Extravaganza is 9 p.m. Saturday, July 1.
• Oliver Lee State Park, Highway 54 south of Alamogordo at the Dog Canyon turnoff. Information: (575) 437-8284.
  Ranch House Tours are 3 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through June 25. Meet at the Visitor Center; visitors drive their own vehicle.
• 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.
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.
• Percha Dam State Park, 60 miles north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. Information: (575) 743-3942.
• Caballo Lake State Park, 60 miles north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. Information: (575) 527-8386.
• City of Rocks — 327 Hwy 61, in Faywood, N.M. Information: (575) 536-2800.
• Bottomless Lakes State Park — 13 miles east of Roswell, N.M. via US 380. Information: (575) 624-6058.
  The 27th Annual Sand Sculpture Contest is 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 22.
Compete against other park visitors while building the best and most original/creative sand sculptures at Bottomless Lakes State Park/Lea Lake Recreation Area.
  Enchanted Evening presentations are 8 to 9 p.m. Saturdays, through Sept. 2, at the pavilion area.
• Brantley Lake State Park, 12 miles north of Carlsbad via U.S. 285. Information: (575) 887-5516.

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.
  Full Moon Walks are 8 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 9, and Saturday, July 8.
  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.
  Zoo Camps are 8:15 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, July 10-14, and July 17-21, for ages 7-12. This year’s theme is Native Americans of the Chihuahuan Desert.

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 nps.gov/gicl.
  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.

Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park — 5000 Calle del Norte in Mesilla. All events free with park admission, unless listed otherwise. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; call for seasonal variations. Day use fee: $5 per vehicle ($40 annual pass). 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.
  Bring binoculars, water, sunscreen; wear hiking shoes.

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 $3 per vehicle.
  The Baylor Pass (hiking and horseback riding) and Pine Tree (hiking) trails begin at the campground.
  Information, group reservations: (575) 525-4300.

Dripping Springs Natural Area — The recreational area 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. The area, run by the federal Bureau of Land Management in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, includes the A.B. Cox Visitors’ Center, several hiking trails, and La Cueva Picnic Area.
  Through September the entrance gate is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  Admission is $3 per vehicle. No pets allowed (except for assistance animals). Information: (575) 522-1219.

Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park — The park, part of Asombro Institute for Science Education, is northeast of Las Cruces, off Jornada Road. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Information: (575) 524-3334 or asombro.org.
  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.
• Meetup.com offers a variety of groups for all activities, including the El Paso hiking meetup club (meetup.com/El-Paso-Hiking) and the Las Cruces hiking meetup club (meetup.com/jornada-hikers)
• Celebrations of Our Mountains now offers an ongoing calendar of hiking and related events at celebrationofourmountains.org/
• Elpasonaturally is a blog by Jim Tolbert on various environmental topics and includes information about Sunrise Hikers morning events. Information: elpasonaturally.blogspot.com or diegotolbert@gmail.com.
• The El Paso chapter of the Sierra Club posts its hikes at sierraclub.org/elpaso.
• Outdoorelpaso.com offers an interactive map, of El Paso County hiking and running trails, calendar of events and more. Information: 546-2098 or epcounty.com.

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 chihuahuandesert.org.
  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 cdri.org.

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 dsouth@tnc.org.
  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 cdwr.org.
  Uninjured baby birds may be returned to their nest; the mother will not reject them if they have been touched by humans. 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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