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“Great Nature Escape Right Outside the City” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge
4200 East Pine Lodge Road, Roswell, NM 88201
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Ranked #5 of 12 Attractions in Roswell
Type: Nature & wildlife areas, Nature & Parks
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Attraction details
Owner description: Home to thousands of migratory birds, deer, bob cats and badgers, visitors to this refuge can view and photgraph wildlife from several observation platforms.
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Great Nature Escape Right Outside the City”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 10, 2014

This is a great escape from the busy Main St. corridor and alien hoopla in Roswell - only about 7 miles east of the city. The visitor's center is a nice little oasis with interesting exhibits about the refuge and the animals in the area. They have driving, hiking, and biking trails, too. Wonderful way to spend about 1-4 hours in the Roswell area.

Visited July 2014
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50 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
San Antonio
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“An unexpected gem!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 11, 2014

We stopped in Roswell (at a family member's request); while looking at the Atlas, we noticed the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. We read up on it and discovered it had a year-round water source, which is different from most of the NWRs in our home state, and it was free! We went in the morning so that it would not be as hot. Like most NWRs, it is sort of in an isolated area.
When we got there, we went to the visitor's center, and were greeted by a woman who seemed to be a very knowledgeable and helpful volunteer. We got a map and also borrowed one of the pairs of binoculars that they have on hand to loan out. Before going out, we went outside by a pond, near the building to put on sunscreen. The pond has a partial water supply from the building air conditioning, which drains out of a pipe to a concrete trough which drains down to the pond. While there, we saw a lizard, who stopped to get a drink from the trickle of water going down to the pond (and also ate ants off the sidewalk), a small jack rabbit, and some hummingbirds. We did the short trail (called the butterfly trail) right near the visitor's center and saw some dragonflies and a couple more gray lizards. When we went on the small deck overlooking the water, we noticed that a cottonwood tree had been planted to come up through the deck and provide shade. Unfortunately, the tree had grown and was being scraped/inhibited by the now too small hole in the deck; one of my few criticisms of the place.
Upon leaving the visitor center, we looked at the map and decided to turn left on the road instead of going straight; the reasoning being that the road to the left went past some water that came to the roadside rather than having vegetation between us and the water. The road went in a circle, so we knew we would see everything before it was over. Along the way, we saw three red winged blackbirds; two females and a male that was trying to get the females interested. We looked through the binoculars, and it was an interesting sight with his red epaulets flying around. Halfway through the drive is a trail called the Oxbow Trail. It is 1.75 miles long, and we did not want to do the whole thing, but we were game for some of it. We saw some coots, and there was big evidence of a recent flash flood that had washed the land and toppled a wooden structure that had a map of the refuge on it. (We found out later the flash flood had come through two days before.) With the earth being still damp, we saw all kinds of animal tracks--especially deer and fox. We also found quite a few shot gun shells on a small beach like area, which we picked up and discarded later.
Lastly, we went on the short desert upland trail, and saw a perfect desert wonderland---because of the rain, all the cactus were in bloom. We also saw another jackrabbit and some more gray lizards scurrying around. At the composting toilets, we found that someone had discarded some bags of fast food. We decided to put that in our bag with the other discards, but got a surprise--the bag that had the french fries in it felt heavy, and to our surprise, there was a wild mouse trapped inside. We put it outside and it ran off! As you can see, we are nature lovers, but if you are too, you will really enjoy this place. It is best to go early in the day; when it gets hot, the animals tend to hide and try to keep cool.We had no idea we would see so much when we came here! (BTW, there were snacks available at the visitor center.)

Visited May 2014
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Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“Refuge For Photographers”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2014

Don't forget to pack your favorite camera and telephoto lense. Come at the right time of day, during the high season, using your best equipment and capture the enchantment of New Mexico wildlife.

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Top Contributor
81 reviews 81 reviews
23 attraction reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
“It is what it is”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2014

It was extremely windy when we went but other than this the park is laid out nicely. It is what it is, honestly. There are plenty of water fowl to see but you can easily see how the water is depleting and in the next decade it will probably be desert. We did see a snake and a roadrunner but no deer, bobcat, or badger. There are tracks showing they do live here but they would probably be closer to the ridge line. Other than this they are building pathways for future hikers, so something to look forward to. Tip: water and screen block. Enjoy!

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Sarnia, Canada
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Birdwatcher delight”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2014

This is a really interesting place for birdwatchers. Mostly waterfowl, some hawks, etc. Unfortunately, due to the drought the water is not as high as usual. We still were able to see a good variety. Watch the roads, they are under improvement.

Visited April 2014
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