The Black Mesa area is a special place that lies in the very shadow of the Rocky Mountains. There is a decidedly western influence in its biota, with many bird species seen nowhere else in Oklahoma. We will explore the dry, rocky canyons lined by scrubby oaks; the rugged, flat-topped mesas studded with junipers and pinyon pines; the great cottonwoods along the Cimarron River.
The mesa country represents a microcosm of vast open spaces, rough topography, and arid land vegetation typical of the Old West. A spirit of natural wildness permeates this land, where the passage of time is noticed hardly at all.
The Black Mesa area is Oklahoma on Mountain Standard Time. Whether you’re walking in the mesalands, in the canyons or in downtown Kenton (population somewhere around 20), you get the feeling that you’re in America in the 30s. The land is majestic, the people are humble, the land still rules and cattle outnumber humans. Kenton is located in the northwest corner of Cimarron County, Oklahoma’s furthest west county – 2,000 square miles without a single stoplight.
Softer sedimentary rock composing the mesas has eroded more rapidly than the overlying igneous layers. As a result, flat-topped buttes, wandering ridges, and isolated peaks have been formed that jut skyward from their buttresses of accumulated soil. Some of the many unique species are Scaled Quail, Long-billed Curlew, Mountain Plover, Say’s Phoebe, Sage and Curve-billed Thrashers, Lark Bunting, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Cassin’s Kingbird, Mountain Bluebird, Black-billed Magpie, Scrub, Pinyon and Stellar’s Jay, Green-tailed and Canyon Towhees, Common Poorwill, Western Screech-Owl, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Western Wood-Pewee, Lesser Goldfinch, Golden Eagle, Roadrunner, Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Common and Chihuahuan Ravens, Burrowing Owl, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Juniper Titmouse, Rock and Canyon Wrens, Western Meadowlark, Black-throated, Lark, Cassin’s, Rufous-crowned and Brewer’s Sparrows, and Bullock’s Oriole.
Logistics This 3-day/2-night tour will depart Woodward via car pool Monday morning. The fee includes leadership, admission fees, dinner Monday, and lunch & dinner Tuesday. Lodging must be arranged on your own. There are a limited number of lodging options in this area, so be sure you reserve your lodging before registering for this trek. Camping is available at Black Mesa State Park.
Registration is limited to a maximum of 20 participants. We also need a minimum of 4 participants, or the trek will be cancelled, and the fee refunded.
Black Mesa Schedule
Typical schedule, subject to change based on birds and conditions
Black Mesa, Day 1 – Mon., April 20
7:00 am Depart Woodward (breakfast at NW Inn)
9:00 am – 10:30 am Birding at Optima Lake
11:30 pm – 12:30 pm Lunch in Guymon (on own)
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Birding at Boise City Sewage Ponds & Keyes
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Check in to lodging
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm Birding at Hoot Owl Ranch
6:30 pm Supper (on own) at Hoot Owl Ranch
Black Mesa, Day 2 – Tue. April 21
7:00 am – 8:00 am Breakfast at B&Bs
8:00 am – 12:00 pm Birding Black Mesa area, including visit to
Three State Marker, Dinosaur Tracks, Coronado’s Signature
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Lunch (at Hitching Post
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm Birding at Black Mesa State Park,
Easter Pageant Area, etc.
7:00 pm Supper at Hitching Post
Black Mesa, Day 3 – Wed. April 22
7:00 am – 8:00 am Breakfast at B&Bs
8:00 am – 11:30 am Birding Black Mesa area
11:30 am – 12:30 pm Lunch at Hitching Post
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Depart Kenton to Boise City
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm Tour Autograph Rock, Sewage Ponds
3:30 pm – 7:30 pm Depart Boise City to Guymon
Hoot Owl Ranch
2 Cabins, $100/couple plus breakfast, 877-226-5791, Hootowl@ptsi.net
Hitching Post Bed and Breakfast
$65 a couple plus breakfast, 580-261-7413, firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Mesa Bed and Breakfast
$45 a single, $70 a couple, 800-821-7204, BMBB1@juno.com
Black Mesa State Park
Camping, $10/night + utilities, 580-426-2222, www.oklahomaparks.com