Parque Natural Mexiquillo


A Stroll and the Zoo

The hills are alive with color. The thunder storm we had last week set the plants into a frenzy of reproduction. We saunter along the Ocotillo Trail that winds through the hills above Carlsbad. We were rewarded with a spectacular display of color.

Ocotillo, the trails namesake

In dry times Ocotillo carries on photosynthesis though it's green bark, in wetter times leaves sprout . 

The Zoo

Carlsbad has an excellent zoo and gardens focusing on the local flora and fauna.

There are wonderful dioramas explaining the history of the area. 

270 mya, the Permian Period, this area was a shallow sea located at the equator. This is a model of the luxuriant reefs that covered the ocean floor. 

Present Day Fauna

Unlike his brethren, Burrowing Owls are active during the day. They live in burrows, ones they dig, or more often abandoned prairie dog holes. 

Turkey Vultures can soar for hours on thermals expending little energy in their quest for carrion. During the winter they migrate to Mexico.

The Peccary, or Javelina, evolved in South America and migrated north, only recently arriving in Arizona. Javelina bones are not found in Arizona archaeological sites and early settlers made infrequent references to their occurrence.

Harris' Hawks don't migrate, preferring to live year round in areas of desert scrub with mesquite, cacti and yucca. 

Desert Black Bears are lankier and less stocky than Black Bears elsewhere, which aids in dispersing excess heat. 

Prairie dogs. 

Two painted and a large Spiny softshell turtle.

Quick and agile, Gray Foxes can sprint up to 28 mph. They can forage in trees, but are rarely found sleeping up high. They make their dens closer to the ground. 


Ed's Cave

Not many people visited Ed's Cave. Thinking it might be the name, he renamed the cave after a European spa, Carlsbad. That did the trick and European tourists began arriving to see these magnificent caverns. We strolled the 1.3 mile path through the Great Room today. It covers a staggering area of 2.5 million square feet. The speleothems have formed over eons of time into the wondrous organic shapes you see today.

This model of the caves shows the visitor's center as the small white structure on the shelf in the background. We rode the elevator down 700 feet into the cave. The Great Room is the area in the foreground. 

Second Anniversary

Today begins my third year exploring the backroads of North America. It has been an exciting rewarding two years. Tomorrow will be just as exciting as the first day I headed out. It never gets old finding out what is around the next bend in the road. 


Beam Me Up

Ok, I did it; the UFO Museum and "Research Center."

Independence Day anew

Diorama of the crash site.

Most of the displays consist of every scrap of printed material about the "incident." Also military documents and letters of treatment from eye witnesses. 

The central display

Every so often smoke comes out and the saucer rotates while loud noises accost you.

But, it is the spot to have your picture taken.

Another display depicting  the unobserved Army autopsy. 

 You leave with more questions than answers, duh! It does seem that something crashed and that the Army was involved in a major cover up.


Valley of Fire

We came to Valley of Fire for the nature walk through the lava beds. Also, there is a really nice BLM campground here with panoramic view of the lava beds.

very nice walk winds it way through these 5,000 year old lava beds. The lava here did not flow from a volcano, but from vents in the valley floor. This must have been a horrifying sight for paleo-man. 

Many beautiful flowers make this harsh environment home. 

I only saw this one lizard, though the information signs say the area is rich in fauna. 

Tonight we are camped at Bottomless Lakes State Park. (33.31855, -104.33269)  Some of our group are taking a sunset paddle around the lake. These lakes were formed by sink holes.  


Paleo Graffiti

We explored the fascinating and enigmatic art created by the Jornada Mogollon people over 600 years ago. The Mogollon culture has exited in the Southwest since 150 AD. For hundreds and maybe thousands of years the Mogollons have been creating their images by chipping away the desert varnish to expose the lighter rock beneath. Since desert varnish forms very very slowly, think thousands of years, the exposed rock remains lighter than the surrounding surface. Because there are no surviving member of this culture, the images remain open to interpretation .

I think that the lower image will be used by the History channel to "prove" that the Mogollon people were visited by large eyed aliens.

Trish, Carol and Linda.

The lichens are an especially bright shade of green here.

Carol, Linda, Paul, Janet, Trish and me

Is this image asking for a successful Big Horn Sheep hunt??
There are over 20,000 petroglyphs and a nice campground (33.34447, -106.00861) at the Three Rivers Site