Rio Grande Nature Center State Park

The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park is a New Mexico State Park located adjacent to the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.. The Rio Grande Nature Center is a 38-acre urban wildlife protect established in 1982. About two thirds of the grounds of the Park are reserved as environment for wildlife. The remaining acreage includes a visitors center, 2 gardens, several wildlife seeing areas, an education building and a building housing the non-profit Wildlife Rescue, Inc.

There are 4 constructed ponds which offer habitat for birds and other wildlife and which imitate wetland functions of the historic flood plain of the Rio Grande. Visitors to the Rio Grande Nature Center may enjoy wildlife from viewing blinds overlooking two of the ponds along with from feeding stations in the gardens and along the trails through the premises of the Park.

Visitors also use the Park as a stepping off point for going to the Rio Grande and surrounding riparian forest, or bosque, as it’s locally understood. A round-trip walk to the river and back on either of the loop trails connected with the Rio Grande Nature Center is about half mile from the parking lot. Visitors might also walk through the bosque north and south from the Park along most of its 20-mile length.

Routine programming at the park includes guided bird and nature strolls, lectures, workshops, kids classes and three yearly festivals. Thousands of students from around New Mexico check out the Park on school outing each year. Visitors from all over the world seek out the Park each year as both a birding hotspot and to experience the special visitors center, designed by architect, Antoine Predock. The visitor center:

” … acts as a unobtrusive ‘blind’ affording visitors discrete panoramic views of the wildfowl locations. Seen from the main approach, the berms and bunker-like perimeter structure of rough-formed concrete blend into the woody environment.

There is an aspect of ‘river-edge vernacular’ to the building; an 8-foot diameter, corrugated drain culvert forms and frames the tunnel entry into the center. Upon getting in, visitors become aware of the prominent feature of both the protect and the building: vertical, 8-foot-high, water-filled tubes surround a sunken, ramped display and viewing location. Light shimmers through these tubes from skylights to create an underwater impact.

The ramp descends physically and symbolically to permit views of the vast forage locations, the marshlands and a reverse-periscope undersea picture of the pond. At each stage along the ramp, interpretive display screens augment the views; likewise, the exhibits complement interpretive trails which lace the haven.”

Features of the visitors center include the library/observation space overlooking one of the Park’s ponds; displays which familiarize visitors with the Middle Rio Grande bosque ecosystem; the Discovery Room, filled with instructional and amusing activities for kids; the Nature Store, operated by the Friends of the Rio Grande Nature Center to benefit the Park; and the Park’s headquarters.

The Park is house to numerous types of flora and fauna including, a lot of plainly, the Rio Grande Cottonwood. Animals observed at the park consist of: over 300 species of birds; mammals including desert cottontail, rock squirrel, North American porcupine, muskrat, coyote, Botta’s pocket gopher, American beaver, raccoon, skunk, long-tailed weasel and many types of small mammals; reptiles and amphibians such as painted turtles (water), box turtles (terrestrial), Woodhouse toads, whiptail lizards and coachwhip snakes; finally about 40 types of dragonflies and many other remarkable invertebrates.

Pals of the Rio Grande Nature Center volunteers are engaged in several different tasks: remediation and gardening for wildlife, monitoring for water pest and bird species, month-to-month water quality monitoring, and educational work about the bosque ecosystem.

Learn more about The Albuquerque Biological Park Zoo

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