Sugarite Canyon SP

Tips for Birding

When submitting eBird observations at Sugarite Canyon State Park, it is most helpful to start a new checklist for each hotspot in the state park. Use the general hotspot when you have a checklist that includes multiple locations or if no other hotspot or personal location is appropriate for your sightings.

Birds of Interest

All year: Red-naped Sapsucker, Dark-eyed Junco, Woodpecker (Lewis’s, Hairy); Woodhouse’s
Scrub-Jay, Steller’s Jay, Black-capped Chickadee; American Gold-finch; Pine Siskin.
Summer: Broad-tailed and Black-chinned Hummingbirds; Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, Gray
Catbird and Cedar Waxwing.
Migrant: Rufous and Calliope Hummingbirds, Bald Eagle, Osprey.

About Sugarite Canyon State Park

See all hotspots at Sugarite Canyon State Park

In June 2011, the Track Fire swept through large areas of this park as well as the adjacent Lake Dorothey State Wildlife Area in Colorado. In the years prior to the fire, the City of Raton and the park had conducted extensive thinning of the oak understory and ponderosa woodland in the park to reduce wildfire risk because Lake Maloya is the water supply for the City of Raton. Despite the thinning, the Track Fire was so fast and intense that it burned extensive areas. 

Immediately following the fire, restoration was begun under the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection Program to protect Raton's primary water source.

Since the fire, the habitat has been recovering. Tracking the progress of that recovery and adaptation of birds to the changing ecosystem will make birding particularly interesting in both this park and the adjacent Lake Dorothey.

Sugarite Canyon State Park, 4,000 acres, offers two lakes, 20 miles of hiking trails, two campgrounds, and the remains of a historic coal camp. The park Visitor Center has year-round feeders that attract resident species. The 120-acre Lake Maloya boasts many waterfowl species. In spring and fall, migrating osprey may be seen fishing. In the summer, the park typically hosts events on birds and butterflies.

The nature enthusiast will appreciate the abundance of wildlife, birds, butterflies, and wildflowers among the lakes, creeks, forests, and meadows.

Nearly all outdoor recreation activities are possible: Fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, and camping.

From I-25, take the Raton Exit 452. At the stop sign, turn right (east) on NM-72 for 3.8 miles. Where NM-72 turns sharply east, continue straight on NM-526. The park is about 6 miles from I-25.

Notable Trails

The AllTrails website has descriptions and maps of hikes at Sugarite Canyon State Park.


  • Restrooms on site

  • Entrance fee

  • Roadside viewing

  • Wheelchair accessible trail

Content from Sugarite Canyon State Park Official Website, Chuck Hundertmark, and Northeast New Mexico Birding and Nature Trail

Last updated November 28, 2023