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Black River
Wildlife Watching > Black River (NM) 
25 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The Black River is an oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert. Rare species of plants, fish, and reptiles make their home in and around the river. During migration seasons, the area teems with a variety of birds, including waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds. Lush desert vegetation and clear pools of water provide opportunities for viewing wildlife. This thriving riparian community includes 15 plants and animals that rarely occur in New Mexico.
From Carlsbad, take U.S. Highway 62/180 south about 25 miles and turn west onto County Road 418. Travel another 2 miles and turn left at the fork to the BLM Cottonwood Day Use Area, which is in the Black River Special Management Area.
Visitor Activities
Hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, birdwatching, and plant viewing.
Special Features
Bird populations in this small area fluctuate from day to day. Visitors may observe green-backed herons, orchard orioles, yellow-billed cuckoos, and roadrunners. Some less common plants include gypsum ringstems, gypsum milkvetches, and Scheer’s pincushion cacti. River cooter turtles basking on downed trees in the watercourse will also delight wildlife enthusiasts.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
Trails that lead to the water are wheelchair-accessible; however, they are hard-packed, not paved.
Camping and Lodging
Developed camping and lodging are available 5 miles north on U.S. Highway 62/80 in Whites City.
Food and Supplies
Food and supplies are available in Carlsbad and Whites City.
First Aid
There is no first aid on-site. Emergency services are available at Carlsbad Medical Center.
Additional Information
The site is open all year, but summer daytime temperatures can be over 100°F. The best time to visit is the fall months. BLM manages 1,200 acres along the river, including the springs that feed it.
Contact Information
BLM - Carlsbad Field Office
620 East Greene
Carlsbad, NM 88220
Tel: (505) 234-5972              

Black River Special Management Area Map

Black River Photo

Fed by springs, the tranquil Black River provides habitat for many rare species of plants and animals. (Howard Parman, BLM Roswell Field Office)

Last updated: 10-23-2009