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Dripping Springs Natural Area

Birding in New Mexico

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
Dripping Springs Natural Area

15000 Dripping Springs Road
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88011
Dripping Springs Natural Area webpage
Dripping Springs Natural Area brochure and map

Also, see Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

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Dripping Springs Natural Area
Coordinates: 32.32773, -106.59024
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Dripping Springs NA–Arroyo Trail
Coordinates: 32.3340403, -106.5952176
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Dripping Springs NA–La Cueva Picnic Area
Coordinates: 32.3371487, -106.6038179
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Tips for birding Dripping Springs Natural Area
Located on the west side of the Organ Mountains, Dripping Springs Natural Area is a short drive from Las Cruces and offers good birding opportunities year-round. This site is a property of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and requires a $5.00 day-use fee per vehicle, which can be paid at the visitor center or at self-pay kiosks throughout the area (federal lands passes are also accepted). Open hours are 7:00 am to 8:00 pm in the summer season (March-November) and 8:00 am to 6:00 pm in the winter season (November-March); camping is not permitted at any season. This site is extremely popular with hikers at all seasons, so it is often necessary to get here at opening time in order to avoid the crowds (especially on weekends).

By far, the best birding at Dripping Springs is along the La Cueva Trail (also known as the Arroyo Trail), a 2.9-mile loop trail that runs from the parking at the La Cueva Picnic Area to the Visitor Center and back. It is usually best to start from the parking at La Cueva (accessible from a turnoff along Dripping Springs Road, shortly before the Visitor Center), as this end of the trail is generally less popular with hikers and gives immediate access to good habitat. The trail follows a lush, rocky arroyo with hackberry and other fruit-bearing shrubs. The hiking is relatively easy, though the terrain is rocky and there is relatively little shade to be had during the hot summer months. Common year-round residents include Canyon and Spotted Towhees, Canyon, Rock, and Bewick’s Wrens, Black-throated and Black-chinned Sparrows, and Pyrrhuloxia, among others. Summer visitors include Scott’s Oriole, White-throated Swift, Indigo Bunting, and Blue Grosbeak, while winter brings Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, Townsend’s Solitaire, and various sparrows. Focus on areas with surface water (which may be present as a trickle in the arroyo) or fruiting shrubs, which will congregate birds.

The two other major trails at Dripping Springs are the eponymous Dripping Springs Trail and the Fillmore Canyon Trail. While both trails offer access to seasonal waterfalls and decent habitats, they are generally less productive for birding and are heavily traveled by hikers. Expect the regular desert-scrub species, including many of those described above.
From Joel Gilb

About Dripping Springs Natural Area
The Dripping Springs Natural Area has over four miles of easy hiking trails, including the Dripping Springs Trail, which shows off desert scrub and low elevation pinon-juniper and oak woodlands. The area also boasts excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, including excellent year-round viewing of Red-tailed Hawk, Gambel’s Quail, Golden Eagle, and Rock Squirrel. It offers very good year-round viewing of desert Mule Deer and Coyote. Also watch for Black-throated Sparrow, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Verdin, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Lesser Nighthawk, Scott’s Oriole, Cactus Wren, Desert Cottontail, and Collared and Tree Lizard in the spring and summer.

Gate Hours (change with Daylight Savings Time)
Summer (March-Nov): 7 a.m. – Sunset
Winter (Nov-March): 8 a.m. – Sunset
Dripping Springs Natural Area is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.

The Dripping Springs Natural Area is located 10 miles east of Las Cruces, on the west side of the Organ Mountains. From Exit 1 on I-25, take University Avenue/Dripping Springs Road east to the end.
From Dripping Springs Natural Area webpage