After leaving Taos, we spent the night in Las Vegas, New Mexico, at Storrie Lake State Park. Our intention was to bird at the nearby Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, and we got up early (forgoing even breakfast) to do so. This time of year, the refuge should have been filled with sandhill cranes, ducks, and geese. But with not a drop of water in the refuge, there were almost no birds. Leaving the refuge, we did see one flock of cranes circling overhead, plaintively calling as they searched for water and food and a place to spend the winter.
Next stop for us was Palo Duro Canyon State Park, south of Amarillo. It’s a surprise in the otherwise mostly flat as a pancake state of Texas; if you’ve never spent time in the Four Corners area, it would be an amazing sight. Yes, it’s pretty, and a great stop in an otherwise desolate area of Texas. But it was hot (climbing into the ’90s), humid, and the trails were slippery and muddy following recent storms. After a mere 2-½ mile hike, we were done for the day. We obviously need to toughen up before we get to Florida.
Next stop, Copper Breaks State Park, near Quanah, Texas. This is a little gem of a park. Peaceful, beautiful, and with miles of hiking and biking trails, it’s a place we want to return to. It boasts a pretty little canyon, lovely grasslands filled with native grasses and wildflowers, and two small lakes. We enjoyed evening and morning hikes here, and although our birding has still been slim pickings, we did see two armadillos. They moved at lightning speed when they heard us coming, hopping two feet straight up into the air before speeding away.
Next stop, Ray Roberts State Park north of Fort Worth, in the Prairies and Lakes region. A huge reservoir, beautiful campground, excellent hiking and biking trails, and another place we would return to. But definitely not on a weekend! Because this campground is within an hour of a large city, the weekend warriors appear en masse after work on Friday, and it takes a long time for them to mellow out.
Next up: Caddo Lake State Park, in the Pineywoods region. And that, my friends, takes us across the enormous state of Texas.