Rio Grande Nature Center State Park is a tiny wildlife oasis located right in the middle of Albuquerque. We loved visiting this park, and will drop by on all of our future Albuquerque visits.
We started with a picnic at the shady pavilions at the park. There were five or six tables, and plenty of shade at the mouth of the park. From the parking lot and pavilions, we walked about 100 yards through the trees to the Visitor’s Center. Along the way we saw two different kinds of birds and a ground squirrel with a big bushy tail. The boys were also excited to enter the Visitor’s Center because we got to walk through a giant culvert. The nice volunteers inside showed us their playroom first. There were magnifying glasses and different things to look at, blocks to build with, animal tracks to identify, and best of all, a camera that was watching three-day old baby bluebirds! We watched for a while until the volunteer showed us the observation room.
The observation room has a huge plexiglass wall that looks out on a beautiful pond. Mallards, several kinds of turtles, wood ducks, and cormorants swim just on the other side of the glass. Hummingbirds flit around feeders hanging on the other side of the glass. It is a truly beautiful spot where you could sit for hours. We sat and watched until we’d seen enough and then went out for a walk.
There is a loop trail at Rio Grande Nature Center Park that leads down to the river. Since the volunteer told us it was required to play Pooh Sticks on the bridge over the small tributary, we did. This is a stick racing game where you drop your sticks at the same time and see which one comes out first. We had fun playing for about 15 minutes.
After crossing the bridge, we started looking for wildlife. There are lizards and black-chinned hummingbirds everywhere. We kept our eyes peeled for porcupines in the trees, but didn’t manage to see any. When we finally reached the Rio Grande, we did see a tiny frog that would fit on the tip of your pinkie swimming in the water. The river is truly massive here, and the wetland area is beautiful.
The trail looped around to the right or left (we chose right) and headed back to the Visitor’s Center. It was an amazing state park, especially for us birders. We visited the Albuquerque Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, and the ABQ Aquarium, but Rio Grande Nature Center State Park was as good as nice as any of them!