Black River Recreation Area

The 1,200-acre Black River Recreation Area is managed to provide low-impact recreation and environmental education opportunities while maintaining a healthy river system and riparian habitat. This river corridor acts as a transition zone between the limestone foothills of the Guadalupe Escarpment and the southern gypsum soils to the east. Several spring-fed pools within the area comprise the headwaters of the Black River. The area includes a series of deep, elongated pools interconnected by a shallow, narrow stream.

The Black River, an oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert, is home to rare species of plants, fish and reptiles in and around the river. During migration seasons, the area teems with birds, including waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds. Bird populations in this small area fluctuate daily and seasonally. Visitors may observe green-backed herons, orchard orioles, yellow-billed cuckoos, and roadrunners. Lush desert vegetation and clear pools of water provide excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife.

The recreation area's most frequently visited site is the Cottonwood Day Use Area, which includes a wildlife viewing platform, picnic tables, and a toilet. The parking area is approximately 500 feet from the water's edge.

Facilities include a restroom and picnic tables. Drinking water is not available.


Black River Recreation Area
Black River Recreation Area

Adventure is at Your Fingertips



  • None.


  • Open year-round. The recreation area is day-use only.


  • Hiking, fishing, watchable wildlife, universally accessible wildlife viewing platform, picnicking.


  • Restroom and picnic tables. Drinking water is not available

Special Rules

  • No overnight camping, weapons, or OHV use is permitted within the Black River Recreation Area.

FLICKR Slideshow

Kayaking on the Black River

YouTube Video


Geographic Coordinates

32.09602639, -104.46942


The Black River Recreation Area is located about 26 miles southwest of Carlsbad, NM. From Carlsbad, take US 62/180 south for about 25 miles and turn west onto CR 418. Travel another 2 miles and turn left at the fork.