November 2018

Nature

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

El Paso Cactus and Rock Club — The club’s 81st Anniversary and cactus appreciation event is 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at El Paso Garden Center, 3105 Grant (Memorial Park). Learn about cactus and succulents as well as cooking with cactus. Books, cactus and other succulents for sale. Admission is free. Information: 545-1951 or elpasodesert.com/EPCRC.
  Programs include “Flowering Plants of Trans-Pecos Texas and Adjacent Areas,” “Cooking with Cacti,” “Remarkable Succulents of South Africa,” and Quebradas of Durango.”

DinoTracks Tour — Insights Science Center host its monthly DinoTracks tour 9 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at Mt. Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, open to the general public. The tour covers topics such as “Dinosaur & Crocodilian Trace-fossils,” “Volcanism,” “Plate Tectonics,” “Sedimentation & Metamorphic Processes” and more. Wear sun protection, comfortable closed toed shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Cost: $15 per person; available at eventbrite. Information: 534-0000 or insightselpaso.org.
  The 3-mile hiking tour promotes learning in the STEAM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.
  Next month’s tour is 1 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 2.

Wyler Aerial Tramway — 1700 McKinley. Hikes are free. Hikes are one mile up on Directisimo and Jackaloop trail. Carpool if possible. Park will transport participants back to their vehicles via a TX Parks and Wildlife vehicle. Information: 562-9899. Hikes begin at the Directisimo trail head.
  Group hikes are rated as strenuous hikes, not recommended for first-time hikers. Bring water, sturdy shoes, weather appropriate clothing.
  A Women-Only Hike is 8 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, up Ranger Peak.
  The Last Sunday “Turkey Hike” is 8 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 25.

Fort Bliss Outdoor Recreation — Registration required on a first come, first serve basis at the Soldier Activity Center, 20732 Constitution, for DoD ID cardholders. Information: 744-1532 or bliss.armymwr.com.
  A Big Bend Rafting Trip is Friday through Monday, Nov. 9-12, including a visit to historic Fort Davis, rafting, kayaking, day hiking along the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park and Mountain Biking. Cost: $200 per person; open to the public age 14 and older. Space is limited.

Big Bosque Bird Bash — Friends of the Rio Bosque hosts the free community event 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, 10176 Socorro Rd. in El Paso’s Mission Valley, to learn about the river-valley environment through tours, presentations, exhibit and interactive activities. Information: 747-8663 or riobosque.org.

Festival of the Cranes — The 31st annual event is Tuesday through Sunday, Nov. 13-18, at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, N.M (near Socorro). Events also are at the Macey Center on the New Mexico Tech Campus in Socorro, and other area locations. Information, schedule: (575) 835-2077 or friendsofthebosque.org.
  Tour loop entry fee for the refuge will be waived for private vehicles during the festival.
  The Festival celebrates the yearly return of thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese, ducks and whooping cranes among the 325 species found at the Bosque.
  The festival schedule includes 140 events, most requiring advance registration, plus the annual expo and wildlife art show and silent auction.
  A variety of birding tours of Bosque del Apache will be offered from dawn to dusk.
  Expo Tent is open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, on the Bosque del Apache Plaza.
  The annual friends dinner is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Bodega Burger Co. Restaurant, 606 N. California, Socorro. Keynote presentation follows dinner, at 7:30 p.m. featuring Anne Lacy of the International Crane Foundation with “The Trumpet in the Orchestra of Evolution: Sandhill Crane in North America.” Cost: $37 for dinner; $10 speech.
  Friends Friday Night Keynote Social is 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, with speaker Catherine Hamilton on Amur Falcon Migration. Cost: $30.
  A Wildlife Zone Family Festival is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, with kid-friendly activities, workshops and tours. Admission is free; no registration needed.

El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society — The society’s general meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at UTEP’s Centennial Museum, 500 W. University. UTEP assistant professor Philip Lavretsky will present a program on his waterfowl research, drawing from his molecular research with various species. Information: Scott, 581-6071 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.
  Nonmembers and beginners are welcome to the society’s field trips. Information: Mark Perkins, 637-3521 or trans-pecos-audubon.com.
  A birding trip to South Texas is Nov. 2-6. Call for details.
  The society is planning a birding tour in Costa Rica for March 2019. Call for details, cost.

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. The Nov. 27 program is on Sierra Club’s “Our Wild America” campaign, presented by UTEP Biological Sciences Professor Liz Walsh, Board of Directors Executive Commit­tee & Treasurer, National Sierra Club. Information: elpasosierraclub.org

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 Faceb ook at ElPasoZoo.
• Boo at the Zoo is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 27-28, with music, candy, and family fun.
• Zoospectro Patronum Harry Potter event is 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 10. See separate listing.
  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.
  The El Paso Zoo is a 35-acre home to 228 species of animals. About 420 mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, 106 fish and 294 invertebrates live in a variety of natural habitat exhibits including a Reptile House, South American Pavilion, Americas Aviary, Cisneros Paraje, Birds of Prey Exhibit, Forest Atrium, Asian Grasslands and an Elephant Complex, and the Kalahari Research Station energy exhibit.

Cut down your own Christmas tree — Permits are available for people to cut down their own Christmas tree in designated areas of the Lincoln and Gila National Forests in New Mexico through Dec. 24. Limit is one tree — up to 10 feet in height — per household, and the permit includes a map of areas where cutting is allowed. Permits available to purchase for $5 per tree; special permits available for trees over 10 feet. Applications available at fs.usda.gov.

Franklin Mountains State Park — Most hiking and mountain-biking 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.
  Campfire Program is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, beginning near site 39 (scenic overlook) in Tom Mays. Campfire demonstration precedes program at 5 p.m. BYO-S’mores.
  Guided hikes and bike rides 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).
• Early Bird Hike is 7 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. Birding tour, no experience necessary.
• Zombie Apocalypse Hike is 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. Emergency preparedness/wilderness survival hike meeting at the Cottonwood Spring trailhead.
• Peak Fitness Hike is 7 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, meeting at Smuggler’s Pass parking lot off of Transmountain to carpool to McKelligon Canyon trailhead. Strenuous trail, 3.8 miles.
• Lower Sunset Hike is 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, meeting at Shaffer Shuffle trailhead Moderate hike, 2.5 miles.
• Moms + Tots hikes geared toward mothers with young kids are 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9, meeting at the Lower Sunset trailhead (southern end) for an easy hike, and Nov. 28, at the Upper Sunset trail scenic overlook (moderate hike).
• Prospect Mine Tour hikes are 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, starting at Chuck Heinrich Park (moderate).
• A Turkey Trot hike to Aztec Caves is 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 23. Stop for a picnic lunch before coming back down. Bring leftover turkey sandwiches.
• A Women’s Hike to Mundy’s Gap is 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24 (moderate).
  The 24,000-acre park extends north from the heart of El Paso to the New Mexico state line. The highest point is North Mt. Franklin, 7,192 feet above sea level.

Keystone Heritage Park and El Paso Desert Botanical Garden — 4200 Doniphan (across from Frontera). Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Tuesdays. Admission: $2 (free for members); $1 children. Information: 584-0563, keystoneheritagepark.com.

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, Nov. 17.
• Introductory tours are 9 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2.
• Birding tours are 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, and 8 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15.
  Meeting place is a bridge crossing Riverside Canal. Take Americas Ave. (Loop 375) to Pan American Drive, turn left and travel 1.5 miles.
  The Big Bosque Bird Bash is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, to learn about the river-valley environment through tours, presentations, exhibit and interactive activities.

Municipal Rose Garden — The garden at 3418 Aurora (at Copia) is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily 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.

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. Reservations are recommended for the self-guided area and for camping: (512) 389-8911.

White Sands National Monument — The glistening gypsum dunes are about 15 miles southwest of Alamogordo, N.M., on U.S. 70. Visitor Center hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 3; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 4-Dec. 16 Park hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Nov. 3; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 4-Dec. 24. Last entrance is one hour before park closed. Entrance fee: $5 age 16 and older. Free for children. Information: (575) 479-6124, ext. 236 or (575) 679-2599, ext. 232; nps.gov/whsa or on Facebook.
  Sunset strolls are offered daily at 5:15 p.m. through Nov. 3; 4 p.m. Nov. 4-Jan. 4, 2019.
  “Skins and Skulls” mammal identification talks are 3 p.m. Sundays.
  Ranger-guided Lake Lucero Tours are 10 a.m. Saturdays, Nov. 3 and 24, to learn about the formation of the sands and the special plants and animals that live in and around the dunes. Program fee is $8 ($4 age 15 and younger). Check website or call for details; reservations required, available one month prior to tour.

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.
  “Rock of Ages” living history guided tours are 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 30-Dec 15. Dressed in historic costumes, park staff will guide visitors on a lantern-lit tour of the front half of the Big Room. Cost: $10 ($5 ages 5-16); no children under 5 admitted. Reservations required; space is limited. Reservations, tickets: (575) 236-1375.
   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.).
  Plan 3-1/2 hours for a walk-in tour and 1-1/2 hours for Big Room tour of the Caverns. Cost is $10 (free or ages 15 and younger). The park’s audio self-guided tour is $3 extra (also available in Spanish).
  Other guided tours are available; call or check website for details.

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.

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. Entrance fee: $10 (annual park pass is $45). 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.
  Interpretive Park Ranger-led 45-minute guided tours of the cliff dwellings are 1 p.m. Friday through Sunday, at the dwellings; allow enough time to hike from the trail head to the cliff dwellings for the tour.
  Advance reservations required for special programs (space is limited to 30 participants). Call for times:
• Full Moon Hike is Saturday, Oct. 27.
• Canyon View hikes are Saturday, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8. Wear sturdy outdoor clothing and hiking boots, bring water and a snack for the 3- to 4-hour program. Part of the hike is off trail through rugged and sometimes steep terrain at 6,000 feet altitude. Strenuous hike, may not be appropriate for young children and others not familiar with off-trail hiking.

New Mexico State Parks — Day-use fee is $5 when visiting any state park. All programs are free with park entrance, unless otherwise listed. Information: (575) 744-5998 or nmparks.com.
• Oliver Lee State Park, Highway 54 south of Alamogordo at the Dog Canyon turnoff. Information: (575) 437-8284.
  Ranch House tours are 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, and 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18.
  A night sky viewing of Queen Cassiopeia is 5 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10.
• 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.
Leasburg Dam — 12712 State Park Road in Radium Springs, two miles off Interstate 25 at Exit 19. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for day use. Information: (575) 524–4068.
  Bird ID Walking Tours are 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday Oct. 27, Nov. 24, and Dec. 29.
  A November Skies night sky viewing event is 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.
   Ranger-guided hikes in celebration of Native American Month are 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, Nov. 4, with “From Mammoths to Mescalero,” a tour of Native American inhabitants of the area from the present to the Pleistocene; and Friday and Saturday, Nov. 23-24, with “From Jornada Mogollon to Hot Springs,” to learn about the unique geology, hydrology and geothermal activity along this stretch of the Rio Grande. Bring at least two quarts of water person, and good hiking shoes.
  A “Turning Back the Sun” Winter Solstice celebration is noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, with demonstrations, storytelling, hot chocolate and more.
• 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.
  A Star Party is 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.
  A luminaria night is 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, with a lighted walk, cookies and hot chocolate, a raffle for baked hams.
  Camping fees at state parks are $8 for primitive site; $10 for developed site (electrical hookup $4 extra).

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.
  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.
  The zoo’s 2nd annual Arts & Crafts Show is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 3-4.
  Holiday Bells music with Touch of Joy Ringers from First Presbyterian Church is 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 1.
  Holidays with the Animals is 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Children can make holiday cards and treats for their favorite Living Desert animals, plus other activities.

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
  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.

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.
  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.



 

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