Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Roswell

4.4
#7 of 19 in Things to do in Roswell
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a United States National Wildlife Refuge located in two separate sections in central Chaves County, New Mexico, United States, a few miles northeast of the city of Roswell. Both sections lie on the banks of the Pecos River. The refuge was established in 1937 to provide habitat for migratory birds such as the sandhill crane and the snow goose, but it is also notable for rare native fish and the over 90 species of dragonflies and damselflies that inhabit the refuge.
Where the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Southern Plains, Bitter Lake is one of the most biologically significant wetland areas of the Pecos River basin.
Bitter Lake includes various unique aquatic habitats. The Pecos River flows across the refuge and forms oxbow lakes. Additionally, the Roswell aquifer underlies the area. Erosion of gypsum by this underground water has caused many sinkholes, some of which have become very deep lakes that are home to unique species. Underground water also feeds springs that are the source of water for the lakes on the refuge. The water level in these lakes is managed by park personnel and is adjusted throughout the year to accommodate the different species of birds that migrate to the refuge.
Bitter Lake hosts a diverse population of over 90 species of dragonflies and damselfiles. There is a special viewing area along the auto tour route, however, dragonflies can be seen throughout the refuge. The peak dragonfly population occurs in July and August. The park hosts an annual dragonfly festival in September.
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Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
127 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • What a wonderful visitors center and .6 mile loop around the wildlife refuge. The 15 minute video on the wildlife refuge and 5 minute video on dragonflies were very interesting. The things you can lea...  more »
  • Another place with GPS problems. Took us to the back, non-open gate. Check with Google maps before heading there as to whether you will wind up in the right place. There were still a lot of coots, and...  more »
Google
  • Found on accident but what a wonderful accident. Took the drive just before sunset---so many different birds with beautiful messa backdrop. Loved it so much we stopped on our way out of town so we could see the visitor center. Spoke with the nicest volunteer who was super knowledgeable. Can not say enough good things about this place.
  • Bitter Lake is a beautiful Wildlife Refuge just North East of Roswell, New Mexico. Even though I went during the dry season there was still enough water in the areas to support birds, butterflies and all sorts of other neat plants and animals. I'm a bit of a hiking nut so I was a little disappointed that there's only a few neat trails to meander on, but the main highlights are just sitting and enjoying the quiet, birds, butterflies, sunrises and sunsets. A marvelous place for photography and/or painting.

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