Bosque del Apache part 1: the cactus garden
I always find a way to fit in a trip to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Preserve whenever I’m visiting Socorro. Not because I’m a dedicated bird watcher (though I enjoy birds as much as the next person — particularly when chicken-fried! Yuk, yuk).
Rather, I visit the Bosque for the amazing juxtaposition of green wetlands scenery surrounded by desert hills and rocky peaks. It’s a result of the region’s proximity to the Rio Grande, chief source of water for the central part of New Mexico (and a good deal of West Texas, to the south). Here along the Rio, marshes and flooded fields provide essential habitat for a vast array of migrating birds and lots of other creatures, big and small.
(At several trailheads in the Bosque this year, I noticed warning signs about what to do when confronted by a mountain lion. The surprising and rather unsettling advice: Don’t run away.)
I planned to take a morning hike west of the wetlands into the rugged canyon country (topic of a forthcoming blog post), but first I took time to stop off at the splendid cactus garden near one of the headquarters residences. It’s a great way to see what’s likely to be blooming in the wild whatever time of year you happen to be visiting. It’s also quiet and moderately isolated from the rest of the headquarters and its visitors. Though it’s clearly marked on signposts at the visitor center, after maybe half a dozen visits I have yet to encounter another tourist at the cactus garden.
Which is fine by me.