April 2020

Nature

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

Wyler Tramway Hikes — 1700 McKinley (west of Alabama). Monthly hikes canceled for April. Information: 562-9899.

DinoTracks Tour — Insights Science Center hosts its monthly 3-mile DinoTracks tour 9 a.m. to noon on the first Sunday of the month at Mt. Cristo Rey in Sunland Park. Check on status of hike at 534-0000 or insightselpaso.org. Cost: $15 (age 5 and younger free).

El Paso Zoo — 4001 E. Paisano. Zoo will be closed until further notice, but during that time will host a “Sofa Safari” 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every weekdays, on its Facebook page. Guests can virtually meet a zoo animal and ask questions to the zookeeper. Information: 212-0966, elpasozoo.org, or on Facebook at ElPasoZoo.
  Still scheduled is Earth Day 10 a.m. to 4 p .m. Saturday, April 25, with live entertainment, education resources and fun activities.

Silver City Trail Days — Continental Divide Trail (CDT) Coalition hosts a weekend of festivity that brings together hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in southwest New Mexico during the 6th annual festival Friday through Sunday, April 24-26, in Silver City. Information: (303) 996-2759. Full schedule at continentaldividetrail.org.

FloraFest 2020 — The 26th annual native plant sale and fundraiser, the largest of its kind in the region, is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26, at the UGLC Plaza Centennial Museum, Wiggins and University, at UTEP. Event is pending resolution of the current coronavirus crisis.
  Shoppers can purchase native plants, and visit with local Master Gardeners and other plant experts for advice on how to care for their plants at home. Most of the plants sold at this event are not available at other local nurseries. Admission is free. Information: (Museum) 747-5565; or Claudia Lye, 747-8994, or cley@utep.edu. Plant list available at utep.edu/centennial-museum.
  The Chihuahuan Desert Gardens display about 700 different plant species and horticultural varieties of the region. Proceeds from the sale benefit the maintenance and operation of the gardens.

Audubon Society/Sierra Club — The El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society will host a joint meeting with the El Paso Group of the Sierra Club at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, at UTEP’s Centennial Museum, 500 W. University, with a program on the recent decline in North American birds and how to recover those populations, presented by Kevin Floyd, El Paso Audubon conservation. Information: Scott, 581-6071, trans-pecos-audubon.com or on Facebook.

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. Camping is $8 per site per night. Information: (915) 828-3251 or nps.gov.
  Visitor Center and all contact stations are temporarily closed. Park remains open, and trails are accessible to public day use only.

Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site — Ranch Road 2775 off U.S. 62/180 (Montana Ave.). The site is closed until further notice. Information: 857-1135, ext. 0, or texasstateparks.gov.

Celebration of Our Mountains — Celebration of Our Mountains provides year-round educational and recreational field trips to places throughout the Chihuahuan Desert, as well as visits to places of historic, scientific and technological interest. Information: celebmtns.org.

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.

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). Texas State Parks will no longer accept check or cash payments until further notice. Card payments accepted, but visitors are strongly encouraged to pre-purchase and print camping and day-use permits through the TexasStateParks.reserveamerica.com before traveling to the park. For more information, visit TexasStateParks.org
  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.
  Check website for guided hikes and bike rides. Cost of guided events are $8 per person ($3 State Park Pass holder; $1 children 12 and under); price includes entry. Dogs welcome on leash on some hikes. Reservations required: 566-6441 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday).
  Guided events fee applies for the following events. Call ahead to check for cancellations or postponements due to the coronavirus crisis.
• Saturday, April 4: Peak Challenge Hike to N. Franklin, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meet at the West Cottonwood Springs trailhead in the Tom Mays Unit. Challenging, 8 mile hike.
• Sunday, April 5: Women’s Hike to Nature Walk Trail, 9 a.m. Meet at Tom Mays Unit. Easy hike, .75 miles.
• Saturday, April 18: Upper Sunset Hike, 9 a.m. Meet at Tom Mays Unit. Easy to moderate trail, about 2 miles.
  Tentatively planned at new Visitor Center building in the Tom Mays Unit (Call for times, updates):
• Friday, April 24: Animal Identification Workshop
• Saturday, April 25: Plant Identification Workshop.
  City Nature Challenge is April 24-27. Cities around the world compete to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people in the 2020 City Nature Challenge. Information: citynaturechallenge.org

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.
• Introductory tour is 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 11.
• Community workday is 8 a.m. Saturday, April 18.
• Birding tour is 3 p.m. Sunday, April 26.
• Bird Survey begins at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 28 (meet at the visitor center)
  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 sunset Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays). Dogs must be on leash. Admission: $2 (free for members); $1 children. Information: 584-0563, keystoneheritagepark.com or on Facebook. Restrooms and the drinking fountain are closed temporarily.

White Sands National Park — The park, 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, N.M., on U.S. 70. is temporarily closed until further notice. Information: (575) 479-6124, nps.gov/whsa or on Facebook.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park — Temporarily closed; park roads, desert trails, and picnic areas will remain open. 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.

New Mexico State Parks — Day-use fee is $5 when visiting any state park. All NM state parks closed until April 9; check website or call to find out updates or extensions Information: (575) 744-5998 or nmparks.com.

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 Visitor Center and Gila Cliff Dwellings Trailhead Museum will be closed until further notice. National Park Service Rangers and staff will be available in the Visitor Center parking lot and at the trailhead to answer visitor questions and give directions for things to see and do in the area. There will also be small stations with park information, brochures, the park stamp and a model of the dwellings for those unable to visit the dwellings.

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 asombro.org.
  Scientist Saturday Morning events are 8 a.m. to noon the first Saturday of each month to learn about the desert through activities for all ages.
  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.

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.



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