Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Roswell

#8 of 19 in Things to do in Roswell
Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
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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137 reviews
  • This was an interesting place to visit. The facilities were closed due to the coronavirus. There is a gravel road that you may drive on that encircles the area and has look-out vantage points.  more »
  • Went to the reserve at sunset to catch the geese returning. Had to wait until dark but the snow geese arrived. It was fun hearing, and then seeing, them come back in flocks. Returned in the morning...  more »
  • Dragonfly festival is just for kids. If you are a hands on adult, don't bother. I've traveled to so many fascinating places, this is the first adult-hands-off festival I've attended. If you are a family with kids then go, you will have a fantastic time! If you are a by-standing adult you may enjoy it. But if you are an adult who hasn't lost steam, haven't had curiosity beaten out of you, you are living life, hands on, curious and exploratory then you will be disappointed. The festival for a curious hands on adult is one star due to everything restricted to children. Five stars for bird watching in fall and winter. SO MANY BIRDS! Bring your binoculars, open your apps, and take your time. You will love it here! Averaged the stars.
  • The dragon fly festival ended up being the best, most fun filled, informative day. It was perfect for the kids! Highly recommend the festival!

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