26 miles southwest of Carlsbad, the 1,200-acre Black River Recreation Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management to provide low-impact recreation and environmental education opportunities while maintaining a healthy river system and riparian habitat. This river corridor acts as a transition zone between the limestone foothills of the Guadalupe Escarpment and the southern gypsum soils to the east. Several spring-fed pools within the area comprise the headwaters of the Black River. The area includes a series of deep, elongated pools interconnected by a shallow, narrow stream. The Black River, an oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert, is home to rare species of plants, fish and reptiles in and around the river. During migration seasons, the area teems with birds, including waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds. Bird populations in this small area fluctuate daily and seasonally. Visitors may observe green-backed herons, orchard orioles, yellow-billed cuckoos, and roadrunners. Lush desert vegetation and clear pools of water provide excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife. The recreation area's most frequently visited site the Cottonwood Day Use Area, includes a wildlife viewing platform, picnic tables, and a toilet. The parking area is approximately 500 feet from the water's edge. Visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, watchable wildlife, and picnicking (drinking water not available). Open year-round. The trails and recreation area are for day-use only. Admission is free.