Black Mesa Birding Trek

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

Day 1 – Monday
7:00 Depart Woodward after breakfast at the Northwest Inn.
8:00 – Noon Birding along the way to Guymon (Ft Supply Lake, Evans Chambers Lake, Optima Lake, and Sunset Lake/Thompson Park in Guymon)
Noon – 1:00 Lunch on your own in Guymon.
1:00 – 6:00 Birding along the way to Boise City (Keyes Sewage Ponds, Boise City Sewage Ponds, aglands for Mountain Plover and other birds, Black Mesa State Park and Lake Etling)
6:00 – 6:30 Check into lodging choices.
7:00 – 8:00 Dinner at Hitching Post B&B
8:00 – ?? Birding for Western Screech Owl and other specialties

Day 2 – Tuesday.
7:00 – 8:00 Breakfast at respective B&Bs.
8:00 – Noon Birding local hotspots (Kenton, Cimarron River, road to Colorado, Camp Billy Joe, Black Mesa State Park and Lake Etling, Easter Pageant)
Noon – 1:00 Lunch at the Hitching Post
1:00 – 6:00 Birding local hotspots (including places visited in the morning or wandering farther afield to Watson’s Crossing, Benton Ranch, or Boise City area if interesting birds warrant it)
6:00 – 6:30 Rest and wash up at lodging quarters.
7:00 – 8:00 Dinner at the Hitching Post.
8:00 – ?? Birding for Western Screech Owl and other specialties

Day 3 – Wednesday
7:00 – 8:00 Breakfast at respective B&Bs.
8:00 – Noon Birding the Kenton Black Mesa areas
Noon – 1:00 Lunch on your own at Boise City.
1:00 – 6:00? Birding along the route back to Woodward. We will visit previously birded hotspots for any species missed before.
6:00 or later Arrive back in Woodward or continue your own route home


Lodging Options

Hoot Owl Ranch
2 Cabins, $125/couple plus breakfast

Hitching Post Bed and Breakfast
$65 a couple plus breakfast

Black Mesa Bed and Breakfast
$69 a couple plus breakfast

Mesa Valley Ranch House
Has four bedrooms and can hold a large group. Breakfast not included but it has a nice kitchen. Price varies by number of people, from $125 for one couple through $400 for four couples.

Black Mesa State Park
Camping, $10/night + utilities


Black Mesa, Day 1 – Mon., April 30

7:00 am Depart Woodward (breakfast at NW Inn)

9:00 am – 10:30 amBirding at Optima Lake

11:30 pm – 12:30 pmLunch in Guymon (on own)

2:00 pm – 3:00 pmBirding at Boise City Sewage Ponds & Keyes

4:00 pm – 5:00 pmCheck in to lodging

5:00 pm – 6:30 pmBirding at Hoot Owl Ranch

6:30 pmSupper (on own) at Hoot OwlRanch

Black Mesa, Day 2 – Tue. May 1

7:00 am – 8:00 amBreakfast at B&Bs

8:00 am – 12:00 pmBirding Black Mesa area, including visit to

Three State Marker, Dinosaur Tracks, Coronado’s Signature

12:00 pm – 1:00 pmLunch at Hitching Post (included), Visit Museum

2:00 pm – 6:00 pmBirding at Black Mesa State Park,

Easter Pageant Area, etc.

7:00 pmSupper (on own) at Hitching Post

Black Mesa, Day 3 – Wed. May 2

7:00 am – 8:00 amBreakfast at B&Bs

8:00 am – 11:30 amBirding Black Mesa area

11:30 am – 12:30 pmLunch at Hitching Post (included)

12:30 pm – 1:30 pmDepart Kenton to Boise City

1:30 pm – 3:30 pmTour Autograph Rock, Sewage Ponds

3:30 pm – 7:30 pmDepart Boise City to Guymon

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