Things To Do
The Chihuahuan Desert Gardens (CDG) display the flora of the Chihuahuan Desert and adjacent regions in the United States and Mexico. The Gardens were formally dedicated in September 1999 and contain over 625 different species of plants, comprising one of the largest captive assemblages of Chihuahuan Desert flora in the world. Current lists of plants and guides to the Gardens in English or Spanish are available from the reception desk at the Museum. The Chihuahuan Desert Gardens are open daily, from dawn to dusk, without admission charge.
The All-American Rose Selection (AARS) public garden is one of over 100 certified gardens within the United States. There are over 1900 rosebushes, with 500 varieties. The wrought-iron fenced garden has wide walkways with handicap accessibility, raised beds, a waterfall, and trees and shrubs. Several new rose varieties are planted each year, and after two years the highest-rated are named and receive the AARS symbol. Waterfalls, a lovely plaza area and a Koi pond make this garden design second to none.
Feather Lake is a 43.5-acre wildlife sanctuary based on a 40-acre wetland built by the City of El Paso in 1969 as a stormwater-retention basin. Since 1976, the El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society has leased this land from the City and managed it for wildlife. On a spring day you might see muskrats swimming across the water; spiny softshell turtles and pond sliders basking in the marsh, and Trans-Pecos striped whiptail lizards skittering ahead on the trail. Over 200 different species of birds, especially those associated with water, have been observed at the sanctuary. Feather Lake’s water sources are irregular; the lake is sometimes dry. When there is water in the basin, Feather Lake is open to the public on weekends, September through May. Hours are 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and 2 p.m. to dusk on Sunday. Admission is free.
Keystone Heritage Park comprises an Archaic-period archaeological site, wetlands, and a desert botanical garden. The 4,500-year-old site is one of the oldest villages in the United States. The wetlands are home to many birds, and over 200 species have been spotted there on their seasonal migrations. The botanical garden features a variety of native plants, and includes a pavilion and a replica of an Archaic period brush hut. The newest component, the Chihuahuan Desert Experience, is a work in progress that will feature a chance for visitors to stroll the 900-mile length of desert over a 17-acre recreation of the plant indigenous life.
The 372-acre city park is a compilation of wetlands and riverside forest which is home to over 200 species of birds. An excellent display of spring can be seen in the bright yellow blooms of the annual Forb Bittersweet. The spring wildflowers are best seen in April and May however, these 6-10 inch flowers have been known to stick around through the summer months.