5000 Calle Del Norte
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88005
Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park webpage
Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park map
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Once the go-to spot for birders in Las Cruces, Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park has been marred by fire, years of crippling drought, and land use disputes, which have reduced its birding value. It is still a worthwhile stop that can produce 30+ species on a good day, especially during migration.
The park is open from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, seven days a week. Park at the visitor center; there is a $5.00 per-vehicle entrance fee that can be paid here, or you may purchase an annual New Mexico State Parks pass for $40. The staff here are very friendly and can offer you good tips on birding the site, including specifics on any unusual sightings in the area. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to inquire about whether or not there is any water present in the seasonal wetlands or the riverbed.
The two main trails here are the Resaca Trail, a loop paralleling the Rio Grande, and the Upland Trail, another loop trail that snakes through a variety of habitats on the west side of the park. Though the Resaca Trail offers views of the riverbed, there is rarely water present, and the vegetation is relatively sparse. The Upland Trail offers a better mix of habitat, including restored riparian vegetation, cattail marshes, desert scrub, and some seasonal ponds. Birding can be unpredictable here and activity is often dependent on the seasonal presence of water, so covering both trails is usually worthwhile. All of the hiking here is on fairly flat ground and is relatively easy, though some spots (especially on the Upland Trail) can be sandy.
Additionally, you are permitted to walk the levee that borders the entrance road. This can offer better views of the Rio Grande, and there is often some treated water in the riverbed closer to Calle del Norte. It usually is not worth all of the walking involved, especially since the river can be viewed by vehicle from the start of the entrance road instead.
The usual variety of desert species may be encountered throughout the park, while the denser vegetation may attract common riparian species and migrant passerines. This park is one of the best sites in the Las Cruces area for winter raptors, with Red-tailed, Cooper’s, and Sharp-shinned Hawks being regulars, as well as Peregrine and Prairie Falcons, American Kestrels, Northern Harriers, and Great Horned and Barn Owls. Scarcer wintering raptors may include Ferruginous Hawks and the locally rare White-tailed Kite, the latter of which is a surprising regular visitor to this site.
From Joel Gilb
About Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park
The park is located on the Rio Grande near Las Cruces and 1.5 miles from historic Mesilla.
Visitors have many opportunities to view wildlife in natural surroundings while strolling one of the self-guided nature trails. Enjoy a fun ranger-led tour!
From Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park webpage