The Mesilla Valley Bosque (pronounced ‘boss-kay’) State Park is New Mexico’s newest park on the Rio Grande. Located in the historic Mesilla Valley near Las Cruces, this park offers fantastic scenery, and a beautiful adobe visitor’s center. Opened to the public in December 2008, the park is the 34th state park in New Mexico and is comprised of 300 acres of riverside forest along the Rio Grande. It is also adjacent to 600 acres of the Chihuahuan Desert. The park is an amazing mixture of wetlands and forest with the desert and mountains in the distance. If you are looking for peace and tranquility you will find it here with their walking trails and benches throughout the park.
Your visit begins at the visitor center where you will find a lovely courtyard and adobe buildings. There is an outdoor water fountain and park benches. Just beyond the visitor center is the native plant garden, where you will likely see many birds. There are also benches in this area where you can enjoy the scenery.
A body of water known as the Picacho Drain runs right through the middle of the park. This water canal is vital to the farming areas because it is used to drain any excess irrigation water from the farms. The drain is also a support to the wildlife and vegetation in the area as well. You will see cattails and rushes growing out of the water which provide much needed shelter for birds. Some of the birds you will find on your tour of the park include: American coots, red winged blackbirds, and marsh wrens. Native shrubs along the water include four-winged saltbush, spring-blooming coyote willow, and fall-blooming seep willow. There is also a dense area of non-native salt cedar trees which lines the western edge of the trail. These trees lie just south of overlook hill.
The park offers two short walking trails that loop around the park from one side and the other. These trails are simply great for the whole family to enjoy!
Resaca Trail – This trail is approximately a half mile long. It runs along the salt grass meadows and the salt cedar trees. The trail passes along the edge of the mitigation wetland, which was created to replace wet meadow habitat when the visitor center was constructed. In the wintertime, you may see a northern harrier hawk looking for prey along the Rio Grande. In the summer you may see Western Kingbirds. They come swooping down from their perches to catch flying insects.
Upland Trail – This trail is approximately a quarter mile long. This trail passes through the desert scrub to the west, which is home to the four-winged saltbush and honey mesquite. You may also see Coveys of Gambel’s quail along this trail, as well as other year-round residents of the Chihuahuan Desert.
During my visit to the park, we walked along both trails. You will find that one trail eventually leads into the other. In some areas, you may think you are in the Everglades of Florida and not in the New Mexico desert. There are benches along the Rio Grande for you to sit and enjoy the beautiful green lush marshes. It is really a great little treasure along the famous Rio Grande which offers breathtaking scenery and a peaceful respite from your busy day!
Hours of Operation
The park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Year-round hours are as follows:
– 8am-5pm, Monday thru Sunday, Sept. 1 to March 31
– 8am-5pm, Monday thru Friday, April 1 to August 31
– 7am-7pm, Saturday and Sunday, April 1 to August 31
Cost per car is $5.00 to enter the park. Payment is done by the honor system in the parking lot or you can pay in the Visitor’s Center.
Directions to the Park:
From Interstate 10: Take the Avenida de Mesilla Exit (Exit 140) south to Calle del Norte (first stoplight) in Mesilla. Turn right and drive approximately 2 miles west until you cross the Rio Grande. Immediately after crossing the bridge, the entrance to the park is on your left.