Friday, April 12, 2013

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located 10 miles northeast of Roswell, NM in the desert.  The refuge is comprised of 24,536 acres.  It was established as a refuge in 1937 and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.    
Entrance to the park is free!  It is open everyday, during daylight hours.  The visitors center is open M-F and has lots of informative displays. Be sure to begin your visit with watching the 15 minute informative DVD about the park that is shown at the visitors center.
There is a huge deck at the back of the visitors center that overlooks the lowland area of Bitter Lake.  At times, portions of the lakes are dry.  Biologists monitor the water level in the lakes and will have water brought in to supplement them, as needed.
The biologists also monitor the salinity.  Bitter Lake can often exceed twice the salinity of seawater!  Throughout the park are spring fed lakes and sinkholes.  The Pecos River flows through the refuge, also. 
There is an 8 mile self guided driving tour through the park with 3 overlooks.  There are a few short observation trails to hike and a 4 mile bike trail.  
Be sure to bring your binoculars, so you can truly see the variety of wildlife.  The park brochure reports that more than 360 species of birds, 55 species of  mammals, and 50 species of reptiles and amphibians have been seen on the refuge.  It is also home to 28 species of fish and 100 varieties of dragon and damsel flies!    
One of the things I personally love about the desert is the variety of textures and subtle color differences in the plants, along with the complementary soil and rock colors.