Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Roswell

4.4
#9 of 21 in Things to do in Roswell
Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
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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
141 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • It had been a few years since we had visited here, and we were pleased to see that the road around the lake has been gravelled and it no longer is a one way drive! We didn't see many birds at the... 
    It had been a few years since we had visited here, and we were pleased to see that the road around the lake has been gravelled and it no longer is a one way drive! We didn't see many birds at the...  more »
  • You would no know that this place exists based on the surrounding desert. There is a nice drive laid out with stations for stopping and wildlife viewing. There are also hiking trails, but we did... 
    You would no know that this place exists based on the surrounding desert. There is a nice drive laid out with stations for stopping and wildlife viewing. There are also hiking trails, but we did...  more »
Google
  • I spent almost 6 hours today experiencing the refuge. I started at the visitor center where I was met with a warm smile by one of the refuge volunteers. The visitor center has many displays that deal with the flora, fauna and geology of the refuge. After that a 20 minute movie about the refuge and the huge number of dragon and damselflies that occur here in the summer. Next I drove the 6 mile wildlife viewing loop looking for birds. For a break I walked the 2 mile oxbow trail. They tell me the refuge is spectacular during fall bird migration. I will definatly put a fall visit on my travel agenda.
  • A beautiful park with great views and an awesome gift shop! Highly recommend, the experience was amazing.

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