When you are in the area of Roswell or at Bottomless Lakes State Park one spectacular place to stop for a while (for birders and nature lovers, anyway) is the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Much like the New Mexico State Parks, the Biter Lake Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place and a great spot to see and photograph lots of birds depending on the time of year. The Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico. The refuge was established in 1937 to provide a habitat for migratory birds in the winter.
When you drive up to the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge you go through a gate that closes an hour after sunset. If you are in the Wildlife Refuge after sunset you can get out but can’t get back in. A visitor center greets you shortly after you pass through the entrance gate. A number of displays a featured in the visitor center the provide information about the bids that migrate through the refuge and the desert and the wetlands that make up the area. Bird feeders are setup just outside the visitor center to make it easy to see and photograph some of the birds in the area.
Once you’ve seen the sights in the visitor center, taken in the scenic views from the balcony outside the visitor center and watched the birds feed just outside at the feeders you’ve seen about all there is to see at the visitor center. In addition to the visitor center there is an 8-mile dirt road that winds around through the wetlands and four hiking trails that go through various parts of the wildlife refuge.
The 8-mile loop road is an excellent way to maximize your time at the Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. There are a number of points along the road to park and walk around. Photographing birds is always tough when the only way through a wildlife refuge is to drive since they tend to fly away as you drive up. You’ll be able to get much better photographs if you get out of the car and walk along some of the waterways in the refuge.
Depending on the time of year you may see large flocks of Pelicans, Cormorants, various types of ducks and geese as well as numerous other migratory birds along the road and in the wetlands along it. In addition to the 8-mile loop road the hiking trails provide an opportunity to see even more of the refuge and potentially more wildlife and birds that will not immediately run or fly away as soon as you get close to them. In addition to driving and hiking, biking is also permitted on the 8-mile loop road and the four-mile round trip paved trail.
If you have an hour or more and are in the area be sure to stop by the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge for at least the drive around the 8-mile scenic loop road! If it is late in the day sunsets at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge can be spectacular. Even if you only have time to sneak in for an hour or two before sunset it is well worth the trip!