Leasburg Dam, which was built in 1908, is one of the oldest diversion dams in New Mexico. Located north of Las Cruces in Radium Springs, it was built to move water from the Rio Grande into irrigation systems by way of the Leasburg Canal, which serves 31,600 acres in the upper Mesilla Valley. The state park surrounding the dam is a great place for hiking either along the ridge or along the river, and for camping and bird watching year round. It's also a popular spot for kayaking, fishing, and canoeing during the warmer months.
Auntie Bucksnort and I took a walk along the ridge the other day. Feeling a bit more humble about our recently-acquired tracking skills (look! coyote scat! no, it isn't! it's dog poop!), we looked for birds instead. Our bird-identification skills being on a par with our scat-identification skills, I can only tell you that we saw some ducks, lots of doves, some Gambel's quail, and a brown bird sitting in a tree.
We did, however, meet a very interesting self-described "road woman" who lives alone full time in a small RV and travels solo around the New Mexico state parks. She certainly knew her birds and wildlife and told us about good places to see prairie chicken dances and dragonfly gatherings. Perhaps we'll see her at the upcoming star party at Leasburg when we plan to work on our not-so-great telescope skills.
From the park brochure: The large, well-tended Cactus Patch botanical garden contains numerous species of cactus and other desert plants, with identifying labels. These include huge yucca and agave, cholla, cow’s tongue, prickly pear, mesquite, creosote bush, and ocotillo. In addition to the Cactus Patch, there are a number of smaller cactus gardens throughout the park, which look spectacular in spring when the cactus are in bloom.
We found them to be pretty spectacular, even in winter.