Marathon - Alpine Loop
Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area
Travel 26 miles south of Alpine on Hwy 118. Turn left (east) at entrance and travel .25 miles to Registration Station. Headquarters is another .25 miles down the road.
An abundance of songbirds inhabit the five different habitat types on Elephant Mountain. The site's bird checklist comprises over 170 species, including the elusive Montezuma Quail. The majority of these birds have been observed during spring, summer and fall. A variety of raptors, such as Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Harrier, Zone-tailed Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Golden Eagle, Harris's Hawk, Prairie Falcon, and American Kestrel can also be observed. Special permit required (must be obtained in advance); waived for driving only tour.
Turn south on Ave. D from Hwy 90. Turn east on First St. The Gage Gardens is 3 blocks down on the south side.
The Gage Gardens is a 26-acre park with plants and trees that capture the colors of the high country Chihuahuan Desert. It offers a quarter-mile walking path, lined with recycled crushed glass, a pond, and an organic garden that yields produce for the Gage Hotel's restaurant. The gardens have plants and trees native to the area that flourish year-round, including majestic great white yuccas, ocotillos, sotol, pinions, desert willows and native grasses, and is a welcoming habitat for migrating birds and butterflies.
Post Pena Colorado Park
In Marathon, turn south from Hwy 90 onto Ave. D, which becomes Post Rd. on the outskirts of town. Continue south for about 5 miles to the county-city park. Note: this small county park is surrounded by private land; trespassing on private land is not allowed.
Near the park entrance, stop along the road's edge to check for waterfowl, rails, pheobes, Marsh Wren and Common Yellowthroat. In summer, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Black Pheobe, Vermillion Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Cassin's Kingbird, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak and Lark Sparrow should be active. The rare Tropical Kingbird has nested at the site previously. In winter, the site is good for sapsuckers, Brown Creeper, blackbirds and sparrows. Scaled Quail, Roadrunner and Wild Turkey are found year-round. The large trees provide suitable stopover habitat for a diverse array of migrants.
Black Gap Wildlife Management Area
From Marathon, take Hwy 385 south for 39 miles to FM 2627. Take FM 2627 south for about 18 miles to the headquarters entrance. Follow entrance road for .9 miles to area registration building.
Black Gap features a variety of songbirds, quail and raptors. The main road to the river along Maravillas Canyon is great for general birding.Golden Eagles frequent the area during late winter through mid-summer. On occasion Peregrine Falcons can be seen along Maravillas and Horse Canyons and the cliffs overlooking the Rio Grande. Brushy Canyon (open September 1 – February 28) offers a diverse population of seasonal songbirds. Special permit required (must be obtained in advance).