Fifteen miles northeast of Roswell, on the Pecos River, at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a great variety of waterfowl -- including cormorants, herons, and pelicans -- find a winter home. The refuge, reached via US 380 and NM 265 from Roswell, comprises 24,000 acres of river bottomland, marsh, stands of salt cedar, and open range. All told, more than 300 species of birds have been sighted here. You can get information at the headquarters building at the entrance, or call tel. 575/622-6755. Fall and early winter are the best times to visit.

Bottomless Lakes State Park is a chain of seven lakes surrounded by rock bluffs 16 miles east of Roswell via NM 409, off US 380. It got its name from early cowboys, who tried to fathom the lakes' depth by plumbing them with lariats. No matter how many ropes they tied together and lowered into the limpid water, they never touched bottom. In truth, though, none of the lakes are deeper than 100 feet. The park offers fishing for rainbow trout, swimming and windsurfing, campsites for trailers or tents, shelters, showers, a dump station, and a concession area with vending machines and paddleboat rentals (open 9am-6pm Memorial Day-Labor Day). The park is open year-round from 6am to 9pm daily, and admission is $5 per vehicle. For more information, call tel. 575/624-6058.

Originally built to raise bass and catfish, the Dexter National Fish Hatchery, 1 1/2 miles east of Dexter on NM 190, about 16 miles southeast of Roswell via NM 2, is now a center for the study and raising of 15 threatened and endangered fish species, such as the razorback sucker, Colorado squawfish, and Chihuahuan chub. Year-round, visitors can take self-guided tours among the hatchery's ponds; from late March to October, the visitor center is open, with exhibits and an aquarium containing endangered fish. The hatchery (tel. 575/734-5910) is open weekdays from 7am to 3:30pm, and admission is free.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.