Top Place: Otero Mesa

Otero Mesa in New Mexico
Mason Cummings
Home to wild pronghorn antelope, the grasslands of New Mexico’s Otero Mesa rival those of the Serengeti.

Experience Otero Mesa

Otero Mesa is a hauntingly beautiful wild grassland that stretches more than 1.2 million acres in southern New Mexico. Otero Mesa also is the nation’s last remaining desert prairie. It surrounds the cone-shaped, volcanic Cornudas Mountains. It also is home to the largest and wildest Chihuahuan Desert grasslands left.

Otero Mesa harbors a half million acres of public lands. This wilderness deserves the highest level of protection. Its wild grasslands sit along a vital migratory flyway used by hundreds of species of songbirds.

What is the one best thing about Otero Mesa?

Thousands of ancient petroglyphs and archeaological sites preserve Otero Mesa’s Native American history. Visitors can find bits of the old American west in the Otero Mesa wilderness — including several ruins from the historic Butterfield Overland stagecoach route.

The mesa attracts history, nature and solitude seekers wanting to escape into the desert. The wild grasslands of the mesa provide visitors with many opportunities for quiet nature walks and backcountry adventures.

What’s one activity Otero Mesa is known for?

Wildlife watching.

Bird watchers can spend hours discovering the diverse bird species of the Otero Mesa. The desert prairie is an important habitat for these migratory birds.

Aplomado falcons, golden eagles, bald eagles and other raptors soar high above the mesa’s quiet grasslands. The wild grasslands also are home to the long-billed curlew, an unusual looking bird that uses its curved beak to probe the grasslands for food.

Interested in wildlife watching and nature walking? Get insider tips.

What’s one way The Wilderness Society is working to protect Otero Mesa?

The Wilderness Society works with local communities to guard against oil and gas development on Otero Mesa. These efforts to block oil and gas development help to protect pristine wild grasslands and maintain the desert prairie habitat for pronghorn and migrating birds.

Learn more about our work in Otero Mesa.

Helpful links

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