Wildlife West Nature Park
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