Familiarize yourself with river ecology at this green haven in the center of town (2901 Candelaria Rd. NW, 505/344-7240, www.rgnc.org , 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, $3/car).
The visitors center (10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) is a sleek, angular concrete design by local architect Antoine Predock that’s surprisingly harmonious with the surrounding greenery; you enter through a drainage culvert to an exhibit on water conservation and river ecology.
Beyond, a comfortable glassed-in “living room” lets you watch birds on the pond outside from the comfort of a lounge chair and with the outdoor sounds piped in through speakers.
Outside, you can walk several paved trails across the old irrigation channels and along the river, all shaded by towering cottonwood trees.
In the spring and fall, the area draws all manner of migrating birdlife; borrow binoculars from the staff if you want to scout on your own, or join one of the frequent nature walks (including full-moon tours) that take place year-round.