June 26, 2014
We headed out to Villanueva State Park, driving through a pinon-juniper forest, and saw standing water in fields from recent rain. I saw what looked like melons or squash growing along the roadsides… I found out later they are Buffalo gourds. They grow on long vines with pointy leaves and the birds must be dropping the seeds..
Buffalo Gourds, Cucurbita foetidissima – a perennial herb with large triangular leaves. These are growing all along the sides of the road. The fruit is bitter and inedible and can be poisonous. Dried, ground leaves were used by the Apache for green paint in sand paintings; used for the treatment of boils and sores for humans and horses; and as a laxative by Native Americans.
We drove along the Pecos River, past farms and lots of old adobe homes that had deteriorated down to the mud bricks. We also drove by quite a few churches…
San Miguel del Vado Catholic Church
historic marker by the side of the road…
every small town has a Catholic Church…
We arrived at the entrance to the state park and paid our $5 fee.
Villanueva SP entrance sign
After a picnic lunch at the day use area of the state park,
picnic lunch in the day use area…
we checked out the visitor center and gardens.
Visitor Center – Villanueva SP
exhibit in Visitor Center, Villanueva SP
Juniper Berries, Villanueva SP
There were quite a few different blooms…
Prickly Pear Cactus flower, Villanueva SP
Wavyleaf Thistle, Cirsium undulatum – roadside near Villanueva SP
Silverleaf Nightshade, Solanu elaeagnifolium – Villanueva SP
unidentified, Villanueva State Park
Blooming prickly pear
flowers on tree cholla, Villanueva SP
We took a short trail down by the river.
Viewpoint Loop Trail, Villanueva SP
footbridge over the Pecos River, Villanueva SP
Pecos River, looking up river…
Holly, View Peak Trail
heading up the trail…
There was a nice footbridge over the Pecos River to the View Point Peak Trail. We enjoyed the sandy and rocky trail along the river until it got too steep for me and we turned back. It was a very hot, dusty walk in the State Park.
We checked for lizards
Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus, Echinocereus, Villanueva SP
Striped Eastern Fence Lizard
and found a few, along with some cactus and flowers…. A good day 🙂