Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge is the only refuge I have come across that has campsites where you can boondock (free) for up to 14 days. I stayed there for 4 days and was the only camper I was aware of. It was very quiet. Hunting season just ended, so maybe hunters scared all the wildlife away. The weather was perfect. It was in the 70′s during the day, did not have to use my fans, and at night it was in the 50′s, so the furnace was not needed.
The area is a semi-desert grassland with lots of mesquite trees. The refuge is trying to restore it to the way it was before cattle grazed here. They want to encourage masked bobwhite quail and pronghorns to return.
Airforce jets practice over the area. One day I had my back to the window, something made me turn and look out. Saw a Airforce jet coming right at me, I could see the pilot! By the time I ran to the door, it had done a 90 degree roll and was gone. It happened so fast. There were a lot of jets in the area the next day. Maybe the jet that flew over me was just checking out the area because of this.
This area is called “cocaine alley” because of all the drug smugglers that enter the United States through here. That may be why there is a helicopter landing pad on the refuge and a strong presence of border patrol. Also, I got the best internet connection I’ve had for a long time. A communications tower was nearby, out in the middle of nowhere.
Mule deer in a no hunting area of the refuge.
Saw what I think is a western harrier at Arivaca Cienega on the refuge.
After leaving the Benson, Sierra Vista area, stopped at Patagonia State Park. There were a lot of pipevine swallowtails there (above). The park was crowded. You have to get there early in the day to get an electric spot. A lot of people were on a hunt to see an elegant trogon. Unfortunately, I never saw one.
While Big Bend and the Buenos Aires Refuge are trying to repair damage caused by cattle grazing, Patagonia State Park allows ranchers to graze cattle at the east end of the lake, near some marsh and the Sonoita Creek (prime birding area). People swim and catch fish in a lake that cattle go into. Along with going into the lake, the cattle eat and trample tree saplings. You would also not want to walk along the trail at night, with cow droppings all over the place.
Sleeping bull, with muddy feet.