The Las Cruces area offers a unique mix of habitats with an impressive diversity of bird watching opportunities. Situated at the north end of the Chihuahuan Desert, Las Cruces has the added dimensions of the Rio Grande River, and the nearby Organ Mountains. In addition, within an hours drive north, one can experience the higher elevations of the Black Range and visit the state’s two largest lakes. Specific birding hotspots include Dripping Springs in the western foothills of the Organ Mountains just east of the city limits, the Old Refuge on the west side of the Rio Grande near Mesilla Dam, and the newly reclaimed Picacho Bosque Wildlife Management Area. North of Las Cruces, migrants using the Rio Grande riparian corridor can be viewed at Leasburg Dam and Percha Dam State Parks. Wintering waterfowl and raptors abound at Elephant Butte and Caballo Lake. Higher elevation species can be found in the cool forests of the Black Range along NM Highway 152. (Detailed directions to all these locations can be found in The New Mexico Bird Finding Guide.) Also, special arrangements can be made to visit the spectacular Ladder Ranch just north of Hillsboro where over 200 species of birds have been observed on a single property.
Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park
The Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park is located along the western bank of the Rio Grande southwest of the town of Mesilla. The heart of the park is 52 acres of Rio Grande floodplain known as the ”Old Refuge;” the total park acreage is about 945 acres of both wetlands and Chihuahuan Desert. The park features many opportunities to enjoy and learn about wildlife. The goals of the park are conservation, education, and restoration. 5000 Calle del Norte, Mesilla, New Mexico. (575) 523-4398.