Bosque del Apache is a National Wildlife Refuge. The Rio Grande runs through it, but it is managed to an incredible degree to enhance its value to migrating birds. An area is selected for flooding, but before the water is let in, plants that the birds like to eat are planted. Some birds like to feed while wading; others prefer marshy habitat or fields. The refuge works out when to plant, when to let the water in via ditches and when to let things dry out. It’s amazing. We missed the huge flocks of snow geese or sandhill cranes on their annual migration. But we did see a variety of birds: a Peregrine Falcon, a Roadrunner, a large Blue Heron, and a lot of ducks and coots. It was a quiet, peaceful afternoon there.
Our first visit to White Sands National Park occurred in 1983 during a blizzard. It was cold and snowy. Today worked out much better. It was windy, but not too bad. It was great seeing the pure-white dunes (gypsum makes them white). The picnic area, with it’s space-age shelters, had barely changed in 26 years. The ambiance here always reminds me of an Edward Hopper painting. We hiked into the dunes about a mile and only bumped into one other hiker. It was busier when we got back to the parking lot, with lots of kids riding sand sleds down the dunes. A great morning.