After visiting San Lorenzo Canyon for over a week, Don & I decided to drive east to visit the Valley Of Fires Recreation Area, just outside Carrizozo, New Mexico one of the most interesting Lava flows in New Mexico. We had visited the place 3 years before on a road trip, and it was great to see that the same camp hosts were running the place. They are very friendly and helpful, and I have never seen cleaner restrooms or showers – absolutely spotless!
What is really cool about this BLM campground is that you can camp right next to the ancient 40 mile long lava flow, which was created almost 5000 years ago when Little Black Peak erupted. The Lava fields are home to a variety of wildlife including Antelope, Barbary Sheep, Bats, Mule Deer, Cottontail, Quail, hawks, and several species of lizards and snakes. I actually was surprised to spot my first Great Horned Owl one evening during a late evening walk. It totally took me by surprise, because when I think of Great Horned Owls, I think of dense pine forests such as you would find in the Pacific Northwest. The desert is one of the last places I would expect to see such a large owl, but then again they are adapted to live in a wide variety of habitats.
The last time Don and I camped at the Valley of Fires we were visited every morning and evening by a feral cat, which we affectionately nicknamed Lava Kitty, who had taken up residence in the Lava flows next to the tent sites. Lava Kitty was very shy and for the first couple of days we didn’t even catch a glimpse of her. We only heard her soft mewing from the bushes. After a couple of days, we finally coaxed her out into the open with a little tuna so that I could get a few descent pictures of her. Even living out among the lava flows she appeared to be quite healthy, probably living off a diet of lizards, birds, and leftovers from campers. I did catch a glimpse of her once with a freshly caught lizard in her mouth, so she was obviously a good little hunter.
The following is a short video of an antelope we spotted at the Valley Of Fires. According to the camp hosts, a mated pair had become residents of the BLM park to the delight of visitors, who frequently spotted them near the campgrounds. Unfortunately, just a couple of days before this video was taken, the female was killed when she was hit by a car. They had been monitoring her because they thought she might be pregnant.......Very unfortunate, but I am hopeful that there must have been a small herd in the area somewhere so that the male could find another mate.