New Mexico

I’m heading on a camping/hiking trip to some cultural sites in New Mexico and Colorado next week: Chaco, Mesa Verde, Bandelier National Monument and the Santa Fe area. Are there any good mammal sites nearby?

I see Vladimir saw a lot of rodents in the Chaco area, at the campsite. Any camping area in particular? We will be camping there. Any tips appreciated.



  • Vladimir Dinets

    If I remember correctly, there is only one campground in Chaco. Just walk around at night, particularly along the base of the rocks and in sandy patches.
    Bandelier is close to El Malpais, which is an excellent area – it has a bat cave (it’s closed but you can see the freetails’ emergence) and a few small caves that also have bats occasionally. Many rodents in El Malpais lava flows are dark-colored and very beautiful; with some luck you can even find dark Stephens’ woodrat. It also has Abert’s squirrel.
    Wheeler Peak has high-altitude species such as pika and y-b marmot. Some are also present on Mt. Taylor, which is good for Mexican vole.
    Valles Caldera is a nice place to visit, although only a small part is open for visits and sometimes there’s not much to see.
    Santa Fe area is a bit boring, but Sandia Mts. near Albuquerque are great: lots of rodents in the foothills, nice shrews near the crest, and possible Manzano Mts. cottontails in forest clearings.
    I’ve been in Mesa Verde only briefly and a long time ago, but I think the less-visited ruins should have at least some bats.
    Canyons of the Ancients have spotted ground squirrel and dark-morph Plains pocket mouse, but both are difficult to find. Of course, it’s only a short drive away from SE Utah which has so many wonderful places.

    • Vladimir Dinets

      One more thing: when you ask rangers at El Malpais about caves, they’ll probably tell you that Bat Cave is the only one. You have to explain that you are looking for small lava tubes to explore.

  • mattinidaho

    Vladimir, many thanks for this information. Very useful. I’ll let you know how I do. Cheers, Matt

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