Rio Bosque Wetlands Park Tour

Wetland oasis within the Chihuahuan Desert

Rio Bosque Wetlands Park Tour

El Paso, Texas 79927, United States

Created By: Insights Science Center

Tour Information

Rio Bosque Wetlands Park is a 372-acre City of El Paso park the University of Texas at El Paso manages through its Center for Environmental Resource Management.

Located in southeast El Paso county near the town of Socorro, Texas, Rio Bosque is enclosed by irrigation canals and drains on three sides, and the western boundary of the park lies adjacent to the Rio Grande, which forms the international border between the U.S. and Mexico in this area.

Since 1997, several local entities including: the City of El Paso, El Paso Water, El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1, Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, UTEP, and the Friends of the Rio Bosque have worked tirelessly to restore this historical floodplain.

Slowly in some areas, more rapidly in others, native vegetation is reclaiming this wonderfully rich mosaic of habitats characteristic of the Rio Grande and its floodplain in pre-settlement days.

Follow along this tour and immerse yourself into this unique wetland and riparian ecosystem.

You can follow along in-person at the park, or virtually through your device. The park is open from dawn to dusk, 7 days a week. As part of efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic, please keep your group size small when you visit, stay at least 6 feet apart from one another, and wear a mask when encountering other visitors.

For more information about the park, visit: https://www.utep.edu/cerm/rio-bosque/rio-bosque-home.html

This tour was created with funding provided by EPA grant #NE-01F54901-0.

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Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Join Rio Bosque park manager John Sproul on a virtual tour of the park, filmed in September 2020.  
Beavers in El Paso?!? Yes, they have been seen at Rio Bosque for several years now. John shares about their impacts to the park, and the measures taken to protect the young trees from the beavers.
The Rio Grande floodplain used to be a riparian habitat, with cottonwoods and willows providing food and shelter to many animals. Learn from John about how the restoration of riparian habitat at Rio Bosque is occurring.
One of the most noticeable changes at Rio Bosque is the development of tornillo forests. Tornillo, also known as screwbean mesquite, grew from seeds that were still in the soil from before the restoration efforts began.
How can we learn about the restoration progress at Rio Bosque? John has several fixed locations throughout the park where photos are taken a few times a year. He can then use those pictures to see how each location has changed over the year... Read more
  John describes how cottonwoods were reestablished at Rio Bosque, and the critical role of providing water to the plants.
Several locations in Rio Bosque have burrowing owl nests.  Lois Balin, El Paso's Texas Parks and Wildlife Urban Biologist, has been installing artificial tunnels and nest boxes for several years, and monitors the birds.  Burrowing owls ar... Read more
Wolfberries are important food sources for many animals.  In the spring when they flower, bees and butterflies drink the nectar.  In the late spring and early summer, migrating and resident birds eat the small red fruits.  Several of the... Read more
  Securing access to water for Rio Bosque for most months of the year is perhaps the most important part of the restoration effort. John shares about the pipelines that allow for reclaimed water from the nearby water treatment plant to be ... Read more
  The border fence separates Rio Bosque from the Rio Grande corridor. John shares about some of the potential consequences of this to the wildlife in the park.
Rio Bosque has both screwbean and honey mesquites. Learn from John how to tell them apart.
  The Tornillo trail demonstrates what a mature screwbean mesquite forest looks like. This part of the park sometimes hosts roosting owls, and 1000s of American crows and Chihuahuan Ravens in the winter.
Another source of water for the park is from the Riverside Canal, which sends water for irrigation in the Lower Valley. This turnout allows for some water to be diverted from the canal into the park.

 

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