October 2019

Nature

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

WaterSmart Landscape Series — Garden Curator of UTEP’s Chihuahuan Desert Garden, John White, will host a “watersmart” talk on Edible Landscape Maintenance 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at TecH2O Learning Center, 10751 Montana. Events are free and open to the public; space is limited. Reservations: 621-2000 or ajpadilla@epwater.org or tech20.org.

Wyler Tramway Hikes — 1700 McKinley (west of Alabama). Hikes are free and last 2 to 4 hours, depending on trail. Not recommended for first-time hikers. Bring sun protection and wear suitable shoes and clothing. Meet at starting point at 6:45 a.m. Information: 562-9899.
• Last Sunday hikes are 7 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 29 and Oct. 27, up Directisimo Trail. Halloween costumes optional for October hike.
• A Women’s Hike is 7 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, on Directisimo Trail up to the junction and back down.
  A Pollinator BioBlitz is 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, to learn about the iNaturalist app and take part in citizen science by looking for pollinators around the park.
  A Bats! event is 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. Participants can come and test their bat IQ on these misunderstood creatures.

El Paso Zoo — 4001 E. Paisano. Entrance hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. 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, elpasozoo.org, or on Facebook at ElPasoZoo.
  The annual Boo at the Zoo safe trick-or-treating event for families with children ages 2 to 12 is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 26-27, with trick-or-treat stations, animal encounters, children’s activities, games and more.
  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.

Boston Hill Anniversary — Boston Hill Open Space and trail system will host the 20th anniversary 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Spring Street Trail Head in Silver City, with hiking, biking, a recognition ceremony, and activities for all ages. Intermediate and advanced bike rides also offered at departing from the Cooper Street trailhead at 9:45 a.m. Information: (575) 538-3731 or townofsilvercity.org.

DinoTracks Tour — Insights Science Center hosts its monthly 3-mile DinoTracks tours 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6 and Nov. 3, at Mt. Cristo Rey in Sunland Park. Cost: $15 (age 5 and younger free); available at eventbrite; early payment requested. Bring of water, snacks and sunscreen. Hike over moderate terrain for about two miles. Information: 534-0000 or insightselpaso.org.

Aspencade — Vehicles for the Cloudcroft, N.M. tours depart at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12-13, from forest service parking lot across from the Cloudcroft Chamber of Commerce, with “cowboy coffee” around the campfire at the end of the tour. All events are free; participants must provide their own transportation. Information: (575) 682-2733 or coolcloudcroft.com.
  Tour lead to Upper Carr Canyon (5 miles on Sunspot Highway) The Forest Service will give a brief talk about the Lincoln National Forest and the train history plus the changing of the Aspens.

Enchanted Skies Star Party — The 26th annual night sky event is Oct. 22-26. Night viewing, lectures, and camping are at Star Village in the Cibola National Forest, 15 minutes outside Magdalena, N.M. Astronomers from New Mexico Tech, the Very Large Array, Magdalena Ridge Observatory, and Magdalena Astronomical Society will be on hand. Information, registration closes Oct. 7: (505) 515-5780 or enchantedskies.org.

Celebration of Our Mountains — For more than 25 years, the celebration has included hiking, biking, birding, climbing, photographing, geocaching, studying and celebrating the natural wonders of the Borderland. For a full line-up of events, visit celebrationofourmountains.org.

Chihuahuan Desert Conference — The CDEC sponsored conference is Nov. 6-8 at El Paso Zoo, 4001 E Paisano, in celebration of the zoo’s new Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit. Registration deadline is Oct. 30. Information: Rick LoBello, 217-4233, lobellorl@elpasotexas.gov or greaterbigbend.org.

Franklin Mountains State Park — Most hiking and mountain bike 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.

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 riobosque.org.
• Community workday is 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.
• Birding tour is 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20.
• Introductory tour is 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.
  Meeting place is a bridge crossing Riverside Canal. Take Americas Ave. (Loop 375) to Pan American Drive, turn left and travel 1.5 miles.
  Bird Survey begins at 7:20 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29. Meet at visitor center.

Municipal Rose Garden — The garden at 3418 Aurora (at Copia) is open 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 elpasotexas.gov/parks.

Sierra Club — The El Paso Group of the Sierra Club meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of the month at the UTEP Centennial Museum. Information: elpasosierraclub.org.

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 texasstateparks.gov.
  Admission including tours or hikes is $9 (13 and over); $2 (ages 5-12). Reservations also recommended for the self-guided area and for camping: (512) 389-8911.
  A star party with Sun City Astronomers is 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, as part of the El Paso Space Festival. Free admission. Entry gate closes at 7:30 p.m. sharp. Free hot chocolate served.
  The 25th annual Hueco Tanks Interpretive Fair is Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19-20, with various programs and activities. Admission is free.
  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.

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.
  Visitor Center winter hours are 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.). Cost is $15 (free or ages 15 and younger). Free entrance Monday, Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.
  Other guided tours are available; call or check website for details.
  Free “bat season” programs continue through mid-October. Daily bat flight talks offered just before sunset at the amphitheater outside the natural entrance. Then — bats willing — visitors are treated to the sunset spectacle of clouds of bats flying.
  Moon Hike is Saturday, Oct. 12, after the bat flight programs. Star Parties are Saturday, Sept. 28 and Oct. 26, in the east parking lot picnic area.

White Sands National Monument — The glistening gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument are about 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, N.M., on U.S. 70. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Nov. 2; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 3-Dec. 31. Visitor Center hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last entrance is one hour before closing. Entrance fees are $20 per vehicle; $10 per person and $15 per motorcycles. Information: (575) 479-6124, nps.gov/whsa or on Facebook.
  Sunset strolls are offered daily.
  A Full Moon Hike is 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. Reservations required at Recreation.gov or by call (1-877-444-6777).
  Full Moon Night program is 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, with a performance by Native American flutist Randy Granger in celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day.
  Sunrise Arts early morning arts event for artist and photographers to capture the dunes at sunrise is 6 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. Cost (in addition to entrance fee): $8 ($4 age 15 and younger). Reservations required at recreation.gov or 1-877-444-6777.
  Hubbell Trading Post will offered Navajo rugs and jewelry will be offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2-3. Rug talks at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day, and weaving demonstrations throughout the day.

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.

New Mexico State Parks — Day-use fee is $5 when visiting any state park. All programs are free with park entrance, unless otherwise listed. Dress accordingly for all outdoor hikes and events. Information: (575) 744-5998 or nmparks.com.
Leasburg Dam — Radium Springs, two miles off I-25 at Exit 19. Day use hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information: (575) 524–4068.
  Music in the Stars monthly night sky program hosts live music 5 to 8 p.m. followed by telescope viewing with Astronomical Society of Las Cruces volunteers 8 to 9 p.m. the next to last Saturday of each month. The Oct. 19 event features Tom Foster Morris.
  Night Skies of Leasburg Dam is 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16,
• 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.
• Oliver Lee State Park, Highway 54 south of Alamogordo at the Dog Canyon turnoff. Information: (575) 437-8284.
  Our Place in Space star party is 6:45 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. Cygnus and Lyra night sky viewing is 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.
  Ranch house tours are 10 to 11 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
  • Percha Dam State Park and Caballo Lake State Park, 60 miles north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. Information: (575) 743-3942 (Percha Dam) or (575) 527-8386 (Caballo Lake).
  “Whiptail Lizard: the Miracle Moms” presentation for National Reptile Awareness Day is 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 19.
• 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.
• 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 14th annual Pancho’s Car Show is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, with late model show cars, motorcycles and choppers, music, food and drink.
• City of Rocks State Park, off Hwy 61 in Faywood, N.M., about 130 miles west of El Paso. Information: (575) 536-2800.
• 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.
• Brantley Lake State Park, 12 miles north of Carlsbad via U.S. 285. Information: (575) 887-5
  Camping fees at state parks are $8 for primitive site; $10 for developed site (electrical hookup $4 extra).

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. Free admission. 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.
  Ranger-led 30-minute guided tours of the cliff dwellings are 1 p.m. daily through Labor Day weekend. Trail is moderately strenuous.
  Summer full moon night hike takes visitors on a tour of the cliff dwellings Saturday Oct. 12. Visitors required to wear sturdy shoes or boots, and should bring red-lens flashlights or headlamps. Times vary each month. Call for reservations; hikes fill quickly.

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 or livingdesertnm.org.
  Wolf Awareness Day activities are Saturday, Oct. 12.
  The last Full Moon walk of the season is 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12.
  Boo in the Zoo events are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12.
  Unique Art and Craft Show is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2-3.
  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.

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, or on Facebook at Alameda Park Zoo-AFOTZ.
  Fire Prevention Day activities are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12.
  The annual Zoo Boo is the Saturday, Oct. 26. Free entry for event only.
  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.
  Reptile presentations hosted by the nonprofit group The Island of Misfit Morphs are 1 to 3 p.m. the first Sunday of each month in the Education Center.

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 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.

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 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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