It was 28 degrees when I got up this morning here at Leasburg Dam State Park.
It’s a good thing that the American Southwest has dry air and it warms up quickly each day. Otherwise, we might be making a U-turn and heading back to Florida for the winter.
Today’s forecast was for a high around 60, with clouds most of the day. But the rest of our days here are supposed to be bright and sunny, so we decided to save our hiking outside of the park for later in the week. Plus, we had to move over one campsite today, and we wanted to stick around the park to do that when the other folks in Site 23 vacated. Unfortunately, check-out here isn’t until 2:00, so the window for us to move was quite wide.
Linda spent the morning getting familiar with Instagram. In conversations with Kathi last Saturday, she was telling us that using Instagram was gaining her quite a bit of unexpected exposure for a project she is working on, and though we have resisted expanding our social media presence for RV-Dreams, we thought we might give it a try to more quickly expand the reach of our Nature Travelers website.
So, we now have a Nature Travelers Instagram account and Linda has posted a few photos in her self-training process.
Around 1:00 the folks in Site 23 left.
Leasburg Dam State Park has two camping loops, the Greasewood Campground and the Cactus Patch Campground that we are in. Greasewood has 10 non-reservable, first come, first served sites of various size. Cactus Patch has fifteen sites with a mini-loop of five smaller reservable sites (Sites 25-29) that have 50-amp electric (the newest section) and our section has ten larger, pull-through sites (Sites 15-24) with 30-amp electric. Sites 17 – 23 are reservable.
So, there are only 25 sites here, two of which are taken by campground hosts, and probably at least a third of which we wouldn’t fit in. So that was the issue on our arrival day as far as availability. There just aren’t that many sites, and because it’s close to the interstate and inexpensive, a lot of folks use Leasburg Dam State Park as an overnight stop.
Here’s an aerial view of the pull-through sites in our section showing our first site (22) and the site we were moving to (23).
The easiest thing for us to do was just back up into Site 23. So that’s what we did. I’d say that was our shortest move ever.
After getting re-settled, a nice ranger came to our door. He said “You know this is a reservable site, right?”. I replied “Yes, I do. I made a reservation for four nights yesterday afternoon through ReserveAmerica as instructed. Would you like to see my confirmation letter?”. He said this morning’s printout of reservations didn’t have us on it, but he believed me and went back to the office to confirm. He’s not a big fan of ReserveAmerica either as this is apparently a common problem.
A few minutes later, he returned with a “thumbs up” and a map of the trails in the park. He pointed out a loop we could do this afternoon.
We thanked him and took his advice. There are 2.25 miles of intersecting trails, so you can hike various lengths, but we did the loop as suggested. This park has the section we are in which includes two campgrounds a group area and a playground and Cactus Garden, and then a day-use section next to the Rio Grande that is accessed from a different entrance.
We walked to the group area viewpoint, …..
where we looked out over Leasburg Dam and the water diversion canal.
The dam itself wasn’t doing much as it was almost completely dry above it. There was a little water in the river below the dam. The next photo is from the same viewpoint looking downriver to the Robledo Mountains. The road is the day-use access road within the park.
We descended the trail beyond the group area and crossed a foot-bridge over the canal.
There is a really nice day-use picnic area along the river near the dam. There wasn’t a soul there today, but it probably gets a lot of use when the river is up. We walked out into the dry river bed ….
where I took a photo of the picnic shelters along the bank.
Linda looked for birds on the other side of the river.
The Rio Grande begins in the mountains of southwest Colorado, travels through New Mexico, and then it is the natural boundary between Texas and Mexico as it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s nearly 1,900 miles long and is the fourth longest river system in the U.S.
By the time the river gets to southern New Mexico, most of the water has been diverted, mostly for agricultural irrigation. Tributaries such as the Rio Conchas and Pecos River intersect the Rio Grande in Texas otherwise the river might be dry for much of its southern length.
Still, there is enough water here to support some wildlife and there are even deep pools that offer pretty good fishing (though the pool below is not one of them).
We continued and walked the lower Mongollon Trail along the river.
We came to another picnic area where there were Cottonwood Trees and deeper pools in the river. We bird-watched for a while and I got some photos of Western Bluebirds ….
and a Phainopepla (which looks like a black Cardinal), another southwestern bird we haven’t seen in a few years.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology calls this bird unique and says “It is particularly notable for its enigmatic pattern of breeding twice each year, in two different habitats.”
We also saw White-winged Doves, a Spotted Towhee, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet on our walk. We crossed another foot-bridge over the canal ….
and hiked back up into the camping area taking a trail to the Greasewood Campground and then back through the Chihuahuan Desert vegetation which consists mostly of Creosote Bush.
Here is a view out to the Organ Mountains with an Ocotillo and Cholla Cactus in the foreground.
Here’s a zoom-in on the Organ Mountains.
As we walked, this Soaptree Yucca caught my eye.
Eventually, we made it to the Cactus Garden near the park office and our camping loop. We took the opportunity to take some photos and get re-acquainted with some of the desert plants.
We’ve also seen several Desert Cottontails around the park.
Back in the campground, I took this shot of the campsite across from us with the Robledo Mountains in the background.
We then relaxed and I got a campfire going. We sat and watched the rabbits and Gambel’s Quail and other birds feeding around the Camphost’s site.
The quail scurry around and we can’t help but smile at them.
The sun started sinking and it got colder and colder. I put some fresh water in the tank and disconnected our hose while Linda started on dinner. We let the fire go out and enjoyed this pink sunset before retiring for the evening.
We certainly had an enjoyable afternoon here at Leasburg Dam State Park. Tomorrow – White Sands National Monument.