Category Archives: daytrips

You want to see hawks? Get thee to Estancia Basin pronto.

Merri notes, “After reading Judy Liddell’s bird report for the Estancia Basin, we headed to Clements Road just south of I-40 and just outside of Estancia. Wide-open ranches dominate the landscape out there. Driving and walking down dirt roads, we saw more than TWENTY ferruginous hawks, 4 rough-legged hawks, 2 red-tails, 2 golden eagles, some kestrels, a merlin, 2 shrikes, tons of horned lark, and 30+ antelope. We walked across ranch land and down a country road.”

I’ll add that we had never knowingly seen ferruginous nor rough-legged hawks, making these lifers for us both. In fact, we saw so many of each in so many poses that it was a field-lesson. It made for a beautiful day trip.

After seeing all those hawks on our main walks of the day, we looked for Cienega Draw on Willow Lake Rd, which seem to me imaginative, not descriptive, in this oh-so dry landscape. That detour did take us past the Thunder Chicken Ranch, a great name for an ostrich farm.

We drove farther south toward the two large-ish lakes that appear on the map south of the correctional facility. One lake was full of snow — surprising with the temp above 50 — but no liquid. Before we got to the second lake, a Cadillac Esplanade pulled up next to us. The woman driving asked if we were lost. No, I said, we’re bird-watching and thought the lakes might have something. She seemed surprised, then said sometimes they see cranes. I said I thought this was a public road and she said, yes, a little farther until the gate to the Wrye Ranch, which we saw the northern edge of at Clements Rd — quite a large spread. She drove on and immediately after her Mr Wrye stopped in his truck, "You need help?" he asked and I said, no, we’re just out for a drive. They were polite and offering help is neighborly but they were likely suspicious of strangers on "their" road. After they passed, we went on to the gate and turned around. If there is a second lake, it is behind a very high berm on the south side of the road.

Returning to pavement, we stopped where cottonwoods bordered what may have once been a house, now just some rubble. Mer saw a bird land. She got out and took photos of a merlin, yet another bird of prey to end our day. peace, mjh

PS- I recommend Judy Liddell’s blog, It’s a Bird Thing…, as well as her book, Birding Hot Spots of Central New Mexico. If you can’t join her on a weekly birding trip, you can walk in her footsteps, as we have several times.

PPS- Real birders or twitchers (in Great Britain) keep lots of lists, including at least one Life List. I’m a bird watcher, not a birder. My Life List only includes birds I’ve photographed.

OUTDOORS NEW MEXICO: Sleigh Rides at Valles Caldera Make for Great Winter Fun

OUTDOORS NEW MEXICO: Sleigh Rides at Valles Caldera Make for Great Winter Fun by Karl Moffatt

See the preserve’s website at for reservations and more information about available dates.
Costs are $30 for adults, $24 for those 62 and older. Kids under 15 years old pay $15 while children under four ride free.
It should be noted that in the event that the winter produces little or no snow a wagon will be substituted for a sleigh.

OUTDOORS NEW MEXICO: Sleigh Rides at Valles Caldera Make for Great Winter Fun

Shopping Fun in Gallup – New Mexico Marketplace

Shopping Fun in Gallup – New Mexico Marketplace by Jon Knudsen

A two-hour drive west of Albuquerque, Gallup lies between Zuni Pueblo and the Navajo Nation. It’s world famous as a trading center for silver and turquoise jewelry, and the city is a great place for a bit of adventurous shopping.

It’s best to drive to Gallup on Friday and come back Saturday. That way you will be there for the downtown flea market Saturday morning. There are usually over 50 different vendors from the Navajo Nation, as well as Zuni and the other pueblos, half of them selling jewelry. On Sunday, almost every shop in Gallup is closed.

My advice in selecting a place to stay is the El Rancho Hotel. It has an absolutely fabulous lobby, a restaurant, a bar and its own jewelry store. But it’s the lobby that you must see, even if you decide to stay somewhere else. El Rancho is famous for the Hollywood stars — such as Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Reagan and Katharine Hepburn — who have stayed there while filming movies in the area. Their autographed pictures hang on the wall. The hotel was built in 1937 by the brother of film mogul D.W. Griffith.

Shopping Fun in Gallup – New Mexico Marketplace

The LL Bean parkfinder mentioned below is a very interesting, flexible tool. mjh

Dollars and Sense: State Parks for Bargain Vacation |

By David Uffington, Published June 2012

State parks can be a bargain for a tight vacation budget: Once you pay the entrance fee, most of the activities in the park are free. Most states have at least one park; some have dozens when you add in historical or memorial spots, wildlife refuges, natural monuments and recreation areas.

One of the best online park finders is the one created by LL Bean, the outdoor gear store. They’ve accumulated information on thousands of state parks, making it easy to find just the right park experience.

Go online to and type in the location you’re interested in (by ZIP code or city and state) or the name of park.

If you search by location, you’ll see a number of flags on the map, each indicating a different park. You can filter your search by activities (boating, camping, fishing and more) or by distance from you. Mouse over each flag for the name of the park, and click for more information. You’ll find the address, phone number, park website and driving directions, as well as the activities the park supports. What you won’t find is the associated fees. For that you need to click through to the park’s website.

Dollars and Sense: State Parks for Bargain Vacation |

Birds and more in Alameda Bosque, north of Albuquerque, New Mexico

We visit the area around Alameda frequently. There is a large free parking area just southeast of the bridge. This area is the northern end of the miles-long Paseo del Bosque bike trail through the bosque. Within an easy walk are the old bridge, now closed to cars but used by walkers, cyclists, and equestrians, as well as unpaved trails radiating east, south, and north along both sides of the river. In fact, there are multiple levels of trails along the acequias and closer to the riverbank. What a fabulous area to hike, especially early in the day. (The shade is great but may not be cool enough by late afternoon, even in late spring.)

Birds are an an added bonus to the other natural beauty of the area, which includes wonderful views of the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande river,

On our most recent hike, we saw blue grosbeaks and summer tanagers, among other birds. On previous occasions, we’ve seen hawks galore, as well as porcupines and a camel.

Los Lunas – Belen – Bernardo Birding Daytrip

I took a day trip to various birding hotspots south of Albuquerque, but not as far south as Mecca (Bosque del Apache). My guide was Birding Hot Spots of Central New Mexico, by Judy Liddell and Barbara Hussey, plus GPS and some time spent with Google Earth beforehand. One trip is not enough to evaluate these spots – their inclusion in the book may be enough of a rating. Certainly, I will return to Bernardo, which is so much closer than Mecca but *almost* as beautiful and bird-full (no place is as beautiful as Bosque del Apache). I wish Bosque del Apache would mimic the blinds and overlooks at Bernardo, which has two fantastic trails through high bushes around a pond.

Highlights included quite a few kestrels, a northern harrier at Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area, lots of sandhill cranes and snow geese, a song sparrow, and several rufous-sided towhees, all at Bernardo.

Los Lunas – Belen – Bernardo, New Mexico

Note: Photos contain GPS data and can be mapped online.

I had not luck locating Belen Waterfowl Management Area off Jarales Road (a lovely drive). The official map of the area is dreadfully vague. Nor did I see any indication along the road of Casa Colorada WMA.

See Judy Liddell’s blog for much more information: It’s a bird thing…

The Rio Grande Bosque is a treasure we all need to visit more

We’ve walked in various parts of the bosque (riparian woods, primarily cottonwoods) within Albuquerque over the years. A year ago, our walk resulted in one of my favorite photos of the year (coyote with ducks, a prize winner). This year, we watched a Northern Harrier (Marsh Hawk) stand in the river, one foot pinning its prey in the current. And there was a disheveled merlin, a handsome shoveler, a snipe, and a plethora of robins. I’ve added 9 pictures to the album (19 total).

A Walk in Albuquerque’s Bosque

Experience the Chaco Phenomenon with John Kantner

Experience the Chaco Phenomenon with John Kantner

October 14, 2011

Chaco Canyon National Heritage Park

Join Chacoan Scholar, John Kantner and NM Wild for a day-long tour of Chaco Canyon National Historic Park. Chaco is one of the most spectacular areas in New Mexico. Its combination of natural beauty and cultural significance justifies its Wold Heritage status, making it beloved by visitors the world over. Dr. Kantner’s insights from years of research will inspire our imagination to travel into the ancient past as we stop at sites like Pueblo Bonita and Casa Rinconada. We will also be joined by NMWA Executive Director, Steve Capra who will brief us on the current status of the Proposed Chaco Canyon Wilderness Proposal and oil and gas drilling threats in the area.

The tour will take approximately three and a half hours. A shuttle will pick participants up in Bernalillo, New Mexico, early on the morning of October 14 and shuttle guests to the park. We will enjoy a hearty lunch at the visitors center before embarking on our tour. At the end of the day, we will have a chance to go to the visitor’s center and bookstore before the shuttle takes guests back to Bernalillo early that evening.

Trip Cost: $100 per person (includes shuttle round-trip shuttle from Bernalillo to the park entrance fees and lunch)
To sign up, or for more information: E-mail Demis Foster or call 505-216-9719.

About John Kantner:
John is an anthropological archaeologist. His research ranges from Spanish Colonial historic sites in New Mexico and Georgia to pre-Hispanic traditions of southern Central America, to early nomadic sites of the southern plains. He is currently seeking to understand the Chaco Canyon phenomenon and its impact on the prehistory of the American Southwest, an interest explored in his most recent book, The Ancient Puebloan Southwest.

To read more about John and his work go to:

Wolfstock 6/11/11

Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary – Wolfstock


Far-out! Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is hosting a groovy musical festival on June 11th, and we encourage all music-lovers to attend. This all-day music extravaganza will feature local bands from Albuquerque and Santa Fe, playing a wide variety of music from Americana to global sounds.

We encourage people to camp out on Friday night, watch the festivities on Saturday, and possibly stay another night before heading back out onto the road.

Tickets are $25 if purchased before June 1st, otherwise ticket prices will be $30. You can buy them online [follow this link] or at the door. Ticket price includes free camping on Friday and Saturday night.

Can you dig it?

The Bands

Boris McCutcheon
Visit website


Goddess of Arno Balkan Dance Band
Visit website

Imperial Rooster

Rebbe’s Orkestra
Visit website

Robert Hoberg

Saltine Ramblers

Ticket Purchase

Tickets are $25 before June 1st; $30 after or at door. Tickets include free camping on Friday and Saturday night.

Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary – Wolfstock

Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary – Visit – Directions

Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary – Visit – Directions

Cibola National Forest Waives Recreation, Overnight Camping Fees Saturday 9/25/10

ABQNews: Cibola National Forest Waives Recreation, Overnight Camping Fees Saturday

The fees are being waived in celebration of National Public Lands Day

Recreation fees and overnight camping fees are being waived Saturday (Sept. 25) on the Cibola National Forest and the Black Kettle and McClellan Creek National Grasslands for National Public Lands Day.

The Cibola National Forest made the announcement Tuesday in a news release.

The news release said, however, that any reservations made and paid for through the national reservation system will not be waived.

The Cibola National Forest offers mountain ranges scattered east and south of Albuquerque and west to New Mexico’s border with Arizona, according to the news release. The Cibola includes four wilderness areas — Sandia Mountain, Manzano Mountain, Apache Kid and Withington Wilderness.

For more information, contact Mark Chavez or Nancy Brunswick at the Cibola National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 505-346-3900.

ABQNews: Cibola National Forest Waives Recreation, Overnight Camping Fees Saturday