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Bosque del Apache

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by GaryW, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. GaryW

    GaryW Guest

    Anybody been to Bosque del Apache, New Mexico?
    Anybody been to Bosque del Apache this year?

    Pointers and advice would be greatly appreciated. My wife and I are going between Christmas and New Years.
  2. general


    Apr 30, 2005
    I was there a couple of years ago but the weather turned bad and I had to leave. Art Morris at http://www.birdsasart.com/ sells a site map of Bosque that supposedly has directions, advice on where to shoot what and when. I have not seen it.
  3. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    A bunch of these guys go there. They just haven't seen your post yet.
  4. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gary :

    Yup. Usually between two and four times each year. Here's an example from last December...


    Haven't been there in the last couple of months, but a friend went and said it was "running well". :confused:  It's been darned cold here, though, so plan accordingly, especially for the dawn shoots, where the breeze will steal away your fingertips in a heartbeat.

    It's a grand time of year, and Socorro (where you'd likely stay) is a nice small NM town. If you could give me an idea about your interests, desires for type of hotel , etc., I could offer more focused advice to you for your trip. As well, depending on the length of time you're here, there are a scad of things to do in the Land of Enchantment. A side visit to White Sands, Cloudcroft, the VLA (Very Large Array), the Turquoise Trail, Santa Fe... All quite possible.

    I'll look forward to your response, and be pleased to offer help. You're in my back yard, after all...

    John P.
  5. GaryW

    GaryW Guest

    Thanks John,

    I have reservations for 3 nights at Casa Blanca B&B in San Antonio (which is even closer than Socorro). We will be coming up from El Paso, so I have mapped out a visit to White Sands on the way there.

    Other than that, I'm at a loss. I would like to know more about the other places you mentioned. I used to go muzzleloading hunting in the Lincoln Nat'l Forest years ago, so I have been close to the area, but not up on what is there.

    Also, I'm not sure how to photograph the early morning and late afternoon shots of the birds. I think I probably should underexpose a stop or two (but I will be shooting RAW anyway).

    I am really excited about the trip. I can't imagine 24,000 birds taking flight at once.
  6. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gary :

    Nice enough place - it'll save you about ten minutes in the morning on the way to the Bosque.

    Socorro has an excellent brew pub, the Socorro Springs Brew Pub. The meals are also quite good. It's off of the north side of the plaza/square past a truly ugly piece of sculpture. Socorro's a university town, so there's a lot of "student food", and some passable restaurants.

    The Very Large Array is about fifty minutes drive west on US60. You'd know it from the beginning of the movie Contact. It's an incredible location, with highly varying locations of the radio-telescopes depending on the specific observations underway. Magdelena, which is on the way to the VLA, is an old mining town with some charm, and more to the point, gas stations and a couple of diners. Don't speed in Magdelena - tickets help the local economy.

    East of White Sands are the Sacramento Mountains, and Cloudcroft is in the midst of them. There're a number of delightful walks in the area, as well as Apache Point Solar Observatory. The Lodge in Cloudcroft is a romantic spot to whisk your Significant Other away to, but you may need reservations at that time of year.

    You can drive up through Galesteo to Santa Fe from White Sands, or through Albuquerque to SF. Santa Fe is a historic small city dating (in parts) to colonial Spanish days. Depending on how much time you have, you can take NM14, the "Turquoise Trail" up from ABQ, and have a delightful drive through mountains and valleys. There is a rather neat rock formation set near to Cochiti Pueblo called Tentrocks.

    Albuquerque is having its Tricentennial, and there's lots going on there. If you're planning on coming north, let me know, and I'll get you more information. Another good source for info on what's occuring is New Mexico Magazine available at most big magazine racks in the big bookstores, with some limited info at their website at http://www.nmmagazine.com/

    Of course, the various pueblos are located throughout the state. Some hold dances on Christmas Day, although photography's not permitted in many. Acoma, "Sky City", is a pretty amazing location. There are also Anazazi ruins dotting the state, if you're inclined to such things. There are smaller locations, as well as the incredible Chaco Canyon (not a quick trip, I might add, but well worth seeing).

    South of Socorro is Las Cruces with more mountains in the area. You'll likely come through there from El Paso depending on your route. Interestingly, there are massive pecan groves in Mesilla near to LC.

    White balance shifts fast at those times. You'll be making WB and EV changes as the light shifts, and trying to anticipate directions for both. Those of us who have taken classes with Ron Reznick at the Bosque well remember his quick precise instructions on how to alter WB and EV, delivered in that fun dry voice of his. Also remember that birds in flight tend to be somewhat backlit - you'll be adding EV in many cases.

    And bear in mind that you'll need serious cold weather gear for the sunrise wait. It was 4F this morning in Santa Fe, probably a bit warmer in Socorro, but still brisk. You can freeze skin to metal at that temperature. Bring warm boots, gloves, etc., and consider hunting mittens with fingerless gloves with handwarmers in the mitten sections. If your fingers are numb, it's hard to make changes in WB, etc. !!!

    Check with Jim Fenton or Gil (gmaker1) - they'll confirm the conditions and they're both from northern states, so not easily swayed by a cool breeze or suchlike stuff.

    Regardless, shooting the Bosque is an incredible experience.

    It's an astounding moment, awe inspiring, evocative, and inspiring every single time you see it as they sweep overhead in a massive wave. But, still... keep your mouth closed. I'm not kidding. Really.

    The morning time after the mass ascents is still a great opportunity to see many other waterfowl, birds like Gambel's Quail, mule deer, great blue herons, and even white-faced ibis, like this one...


    And the apres-sunset moments are also rather special. Here's another one from just after sunset looking over a pool filled with snow geese, sandhill cranes, and assorted waterfowl.


    We'll exchange a few more thoughts once you digest a bit of this message.

    John P.

    P.S. If you're going to pass through several national parks and wildlife areas, consider getting a Golden Eagle Pass. It will pay for itself in a relatively short time/number of visits.
  7. GaryW

    GaryW Guest


    Wow! What a treasure trove of information. Thanks for taking the time as my personal travel agent.

    I didn't expect so much help, and so I didn't explain our itenerary in depth. We are going to get to San Antonio via El Paso, Las Cruses, and White Sands Monument park. We will miss Hatch that way, but I order my chiles and ristras on-line anyway. Three nights in San Antonio and then two nights in Albuquerque at http://haciendantigua.com . Shopping in Old Town will be my penance to my wife for dragging her to see a bunch of birds. We will leave there Dec. 31st for home, and I'm thinking of going through Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains Nat'l Park on the way back to Houston.

    We have been to Albuquerque before ( http://willsononline.com/albuquerque ) and Santa Fe a few times. We've driven the Turquoise Trail and went to Acoma once. I would go to Cloudcroft, but I understand an ex-girlfriend that I almost married lives there. Rumor has it that she weighs more than 300 pounds now, so I don't want to get within 50 miles of that. I will try to find a New Mexico magazine today.

    I turned 62 this year, so I will get the Golden Age pass. I have always gotten the National Pass before, but this will be a lifetime pass.

    I exchanged several e-mails with Ron Reznick. He is not going to have a class this year, but will be at the Bosque sometime during the week between Christmas and New Years. He offered to shoot with me if we run into each other. That would be great but I wouldn't feel right asking him questions if I am not paying for it.

    Since I started shooting RAW exclusively, I have gotten pretty sloppy in setting my WB, because I can adjust it in post processing. Probably wrong thing to do, but it's worked in the past. And, RAW will help me somewhat in the EV part too, but I am still concerned with that.

    Thanks again. BTW, great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  8. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gary :

    I work in a number of spots on your route across Texas to the Bosque, and drive it a number of times a year, so I have perhaps too much experience with some of the locations.

    In El Paso, even if you don't stay there, visit the El Camino Real hotel and have a drink at the bar. The bar's located where the original lobby was, and it's equipped with a Tiffany glass dome overhead. Nice old-line hotel as well, although it's in the city proper. The museum's right next to the hotel.

    Las Cruces is only a short drive over from EP. Nice place, university town (for those grads who read this, go Aggies !), and actually some rather good restaurants.

    White Sands is great, but it's best at either sunrise or sunset, especially for all those neat photographs. Don't worry if the light looks blue off of the sand - it is ! The sand isn't silica, but rather gypsum, and has a pronounced blue cast in many cases. White Sands is an incredible location, and though I've seen other pure white sand areas, it's probably the largest such vista in the world. BTW, if you're on I-20 through Midland-Osessa, leaving M-O, there's a pink sand dune park near Monahans proceeding west about twenty-five miles. Also interesting, but worthy of only a short stop on a trip such as this.

    Midland-Osessa also has the CAF at the airport, which is a worthy stop for an hour (or three). Some shots of that can be seen at



    but for those things, you'd have to drive across I-20, which may not be on the planned path.

    On the way home for you...

    Carlsbad's pretty neat, but you could route through the Cloudcroft area without going to Cloudcroft, instead getting on 70 from Tularosa. There's a lot of wonderful mountains and towns through there. You'll still go south on the other side of the mountains through Roswell, Artesia, and then Carlsbad.

    I've worked in Roswell, and never seen any ETs, although the town tries to sell that image. :rolleyes:  Outside Roswell on the south end, there's a former air force base now filled with mothballed aircraft. To the east of Roswell, there's a wildlife refuge, Bitter Lake NWR, and state park, Bottomless Lakes SP. Both are good in season, a bit less so in winter, although I photographed white pelicans last winter at Bitter Lake !

    The drive up to the entrace for Carlsbad Caverns is also extremely scenic. It's especially nice in spring with all the yuccas in bloom, but dramatic any time of the year.

    The Guadalupe National Monument is wonderful. Try a walk up McKittrick Canyon (bring water). Look for the original owner's house made of stone - even the roof ! The views are incredible even from the highway that passes to the east of the park.

    Detour off of I-10 down through the Davis Mountains if you can. Fort Davis, McDonald Observatory, many other delightful locations to see on Texas 118. If you have time, you can create a vast loop.

    And we're not even going to discuss a detour to Big Bend here. That's an entire trip in and of itself.

    Good luck with all of this !

    John P.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  9. GaryW

    GaryW Guest


    Thanks again for the help! I have printed out your posts and will take them with me. I don't want to plan too rigidly.

    Thanks again.


    BTW, Big Bend is one of my favorite places on the planet. Been there many times.
  10. Cherokee


    Nov 27, 2005
    Just be sure to have lunch at the bar in the center of San Antonio, right where you turn toward the refuge. They serve a green chilie cheeseburger that will keep you coming back for more.
    Robert:smile: :smile:
  11. GaryW

    GaryW Guest

    Got it written down, Robert. Thanks. I'm always a little nervous when anything in NM has green chiles in it (like "a bowl of green"). They are usually fire hot. I'm a Texan, so I can take hot stuff, but not New Mexico hot.
  12. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gary :

    Yup. That's how we weed out the tourists from the New Mexicans.

    I'm always amazed how folks in Texas want to take me out for Tex-Mex food and expect me to yelp at the degree of heat...

    ... but the green chile cheeseburgers at the Owl are pretty tame, all in all. Everyone who goes to the Bosque will try them once. If you get up to my neck of the woods, we'll get you out for a carne adovada that will set your soul alight !

    John P.
  13. GaryW

    GaryW Guest

  14. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gary :

    Be warned - carne adovada is an addiction almost as potent as LLD, and with more potential for heartburn ! :eek: 

    John P.
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