Wildlife West Na­ture Park

Kids Summer - - Front Page -

Tucked in the east­ern foothills of the San­dia Moun­tains is a rescue fa­cil­ity that dou­bles as a wildlife park. Each of the an­i­mals in the park is na­tive to the area and was res­cued from trauma, of­ten due to hu­man in­ter­ac­tion. The park, which was built en­tirely by youth and is staffed mostly by vol­un­teers, pro­vides safety and com­fort for an­i­mals that are un­able to be re­turned to the wild. Res­i­dent an­i­mals in­clude a 500-pound black bear, a cougar, sev­eral coy­otes, deer, elk, black-tailed prairie dogs, rac­coons, owls, squir­rels, tur­tles and a va­ri­ety of rap­tors. Most of the an­i­mals keep to them­selves, but some, like the mule deer, en­joy so­lic­it­ing head scratches from passersby. Park hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the sum­mer months. Chuck­wagon Sup­per Shows take place ev­ery Satur­day night at 6 p.m., start­ing June 17 and wrap­ping up on Sept. 2. Sup­pers in­clude a tra­di­tional bar­be­cue din­ner (with a veg­e­tar­ian op­tion), a wildlife pre­sen­ta­tion, a fal­con show and live mu­sic. On June 17, the park hosts a Wildlife Fes­ti­val, which in­vites visi­tors to closely ob­serve wildlife and learn to co­ex­ist with the flora and fauna of New Mex­ico. On July 28 and 29, Wildlife West hosts its an­nual mu­sic fes­ti­val, with blue­grass, western swing, Ir­ish, singer/song­writer and other acous­tic gen­res. For chil­dren be­tween 8 and 12, the park’s five-day Ju­nior Zookeeper Camp runs for four ses­sions. Call (toll-free) 877-981-9453 or visit wildlifewest.org/ww­blog/ for more in­for­ma­tion. I grew up 6 miles from Ban­de­lier Na­tional Mon­u­ment, and it’s still one of my fa­vorite places to take visi­tors. Lo­cated on 33,000 acres of stun­ningly rugged canyons and mesas, Ban­de­lier was once home to 13th-cen­tury Ances­tral Pue­bloans. The ru­ins of their an­cient vil­lage re­main a cor­ner­stone of the park. Hik­ers can en­joy more than 70 miles of trails, from long treks into the wilder­ness to short loops around the ru­ins. Fam­i­lies will en­joy the 1.2-mile Main Loop Trail, which in­cludes wooden lad­ders for ex­plor­ing the hu­man-carved ca­vates in the cliffs. In sum­mer, visi­tors are re­quired to take a (free) shut­tle bus from the White Rock Vis­i­tor Cen­ter to the park. Ar­rive at the vis­i­tor cen­ter be­tween 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.; shut­tles leave ev­ery 30 min­utes on week­days and ev­ery 20 on week­ends. See nps.gov/band/plany­ourvisit/fees.htm for park en­trance fees. To reach Ban­de­lier from Santa Fe, travel north on US 285/84 to Po­joaque, then west on NM 502 and south on NM 4. Call 505-672-3861 or visit nps.gov/band/in­dex.htm.

While up on The Hill, be sure to stop by the Brad­bury Sci­ence Mu­seum, orig­i­nally cre­ated by Los Alamos Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory to house his­tor­i­cal weapons-re­search ar­ti­facts. The fa­cil­ity was ini­tially clas­si­fied and kept in an ice­house, but in the 1960s, the Lab be­gan trans­fer­ring ar­ti­facts to an un­clas­si­fied area open to the public. The mu­seum moved to its cur­rent lo­ca­tion in down­town Los Alamos in 1993. It houses around 60 in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits on the his­tory of the Man­hat­tan Project, as well as ex­hibits on cur­rent Lab re­search projects. Many of the ex­hibits are in­ter­ac­tive and kid-friendly. They in­clude puz­zle ta­bles, brain­teasers and a par­ti­cle-ac­cel­er­a­tor sim­u­la­tion game. Ad­mis­sion is free. Call 505-667-4444 or visit lanl.gov/mu­seum/teach­ers/visit­the-mu­seum.php for more in­for­ma­tion.

COURTESY WILDLIFE WEST NA­TURE PARK

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