As the name implies, Mescalero Sands is comprised of sand soils and dunes, with bluestem grasses and shinnery oak as the main vegetation. A large portion of Mescalero Sands is within the Bureau of Land Management Caprock Wildlife Habitat Area. This site offers the possibility of viewing the cou...
Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
|Description: Surrounded by desert, the beautiful oasis shelters a variety of plants and wildlife. Along the west face of the Sacramento Mountains, the walls of Dog Canyon rise more than 2,000 vertical feet from the arid Tularosa Basin to the west. Freshwater springs, seeps in canyon walls, and perennially flowing stream support a surprising amount of greenery, including the delicate maidenhair fern. Velvet ash, Rio Grande cottonwood, desert willow, and netleaf hackberry trees provide shade along the stream, while lanceleaf sumac turns brilliant red in fall. Wild grapevines are abundant.|
Wildlife to Watch: Watch for seasonal and resident birds, including Cooper’s hawk, great horned owl, northern mockingbird, hummingbird species (broad-tailed, black-chinned, rufous), ladder-backed woodpecker, Say’s phoebe, kingbirds (Cassin’s and Western), swallows (rough-winged, and violet-green), wrens (cactus, rock, canyon, and Bewick’s), orioles (Bullock’s and Scott’s), curve-billed thrasher, canyon towhee, gray vireo, common night-hawk, quail (Gambel’s and scaled), greater roadrunner, and white-winged dove, among many other species. Best viewing is between March 1 and July 31, shortly after dawn.
Watch in the early morning or late evening for raccoon, long-tailed weasel, rock squirrel, ringtail, striped skunk, and Merriam’s kangaroo rat. Gray fox, bobcat, black-tailed jackrabbit, and desert cottontail are also common, as well as occasional sightings of javelina. Look for mule deer, frequently seen in front of the visitor center.
Reptiles and amphibians include the Western spadefoot toad, yellow box turtle, lizard species (greater Southwestern earless, collared, crevice spiny, desert side-blotched lizards, Southern many-lined skink, as well as New Mexico and checkered whiptails). Resident snakes include bullsnake, the Western coachwhip, Texas long-nosed snake, black-necked garter snake, and rattlesnakes (Western diamondback, and black-tailed).
Special Tips: Visitors who hike upper trails near the canyon rim have reported seeing Barbary sheep on several occasions.
Other Activities: The rigorous 5.5-mile Dog Canyon National Recreation Trail climbs 3,100 feet from the Tularosa Basin to the Sacramento Escarpment in the Lincoln National Forest.
Ownership: New Mexico State Parks Division
Closest Town: Alamogordo
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: