New Mexico March 21, 2017
The One Enchanting Place In New Mexico That Must Go On Your Bucket List Immediately
There’s a wildlife refuge hiding in New Mexico that you HAVE to visit. While most New Mexicans and birders are familiar with Bosque del Apache, other visitors to the Land of Enchantment are amazed to discover this natural wonderland.
The sight of thousands of snow geese and sandhill cranes lifting off at dawn, or descending at sunset, is one that’ll be forever seared in your memory. It’s like being inside a nature documentary.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 57,000 acres in New Mexico. Located 16 miles south of Socorro, the refuge was established in 1939. Migratory wildlife (especially birds) depends on this oasis.
The scenery here is enchanting. The refuge lies between the San Pascual Mountains and the Chupadera Mountains.
The presence of water in this arid part of the state is unexpected, yet essential for many birds and animals.
The floodplain marshes used to be naturally occurring, but human efforts to divert the Rio Grande jeopardized them. Now, the refuge uses gates and ditches to mimic patterns of nature that were in place for thousands of years.
The results speak for themselves.
The best time to visit is between the start of November and the end of January. That’s when geese cover the refuge like an unfurling, white picnic blanket and cranes pick their way through the water and fields.
In November the annual Crane Festival takes place. This draws almost as many photographers as birds, and for good reason. Being surrounded by this many birds is magical.
It's also noisy! I’m not talking about the people. The geese create a unique honking soundtrack.
During the remainder of the year, the Bosque is a serene place where you can still observe plenty of wildlife – especially if you arrive early in the morning or towards the end of the day. Depending on the season, you may encounter anything from turtles to bobcats…
…Humming birds to deer.
Although the refuge is just a pit stop for migratory birds, for humans it’s a destination worth devoting some time to.
Explore the north and south loops. Cruising along these roads is an easy and accessible way to investigate the various viewing areas.
Some people choose to
cycle, while others investigate the mostly easy (and fairly short) hiking trails on foot.
This is the Marsh Boardwalk Trail. Stunning!
Can you imagine witnessing this in person?
Before entering the refuge, stop at the visitor center to pay a nominal fee, pick up a map, and find out where the birds are congregating on any given day. You can also sign up - or call (575) 835-1828 in advance – for the free, guided hike that takes place on Saturday mornings.
It’s a good idea to pack a picnic since Bosque del Apache is a little off the beaten path. Alternatively, fill up on green chile cheeseburgers at either Owl Bar or Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio.
The actual refuge is located at 1001 Highway 1 in San Antonio.
Here is the Bosque del Apache website to help you plan a trip.
For more adventures in nature, read our past article: “
The Ultimate Bucket List For Anyone In New Mexico Who Loves The Outdoors.”