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Bosque del Apache NWR
Frequently Asked Questions


This is the page where frequently asked questions are collected and answered. If you have a question you may send us an e-mail Contact Us

1) Where is the Bosque del Apache NWR located?

Bosque del Apache NWR is situated just east of Interstate 25 midway between Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Socorro is the nearest city. To reach the refuge from Socorro, drive nine miles south on I-25 to exit 139, go east one-fourth mile on US 380 to the flashing signal at the village of San Antonio, turn right onto Old Highway 1, and drive south nine miles to the visitor center. From Las Cruces, drive north on I-25 to exit 124 (San Marcial), go east on the dirt road 1.5 miles, then north on Old Highway 1 to the visitor center. The entrance to the scenic tour loop for vehicles is just south of the visitor center. Please see NM map and Refuge Tour loop map

2)When is the Refuge open?

The tour loop and nature trails are open every day of the year from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Private vehicles pay a $5 fee at the tour loop entrance station for a pass good for all day. No fee is required if an occupant of the vehicle has an Interagency Annual, Senior, or Access pass or a current Federal Duck Stamp. There are also Bosque del Apache Annual Passes available for $15.

The visitor center is open from 8:00am - 4:00pm every day. The visitor center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and the Fourth of July.

Please check additional Refuge Rules & Regulations and information for planning your trip

3) Are guided tours available?

From December through February, guided tours are conducted on weekends, when staffing levels permit . Call the Refuge at (575) 835-1828 to make a reservation.

Please check our event schedule to see if there is a tour or workshop you might be interested in attending, and if you are coming during The Festival of the Cranes in November each year, please check here for a listing of events, lectures and workshops and more!

School and group tours may also be arranged by calling (575) 835-1828.

4) Are snacks and drinks available on the Refuge?

Yes. Soft drinks, water, and snacks (crackers, candy bars, etc.) are available at the visitor center. Or you may wish to bring your own light lunch or purchase carry-out from San Antonio's store or one of the restaurants. You are welcome to use the picnic area in the pavilion in the visitor center complex.

5) Can I camp on the Refuge?

The refuge has no campsites for individuals. There is an area for organized youth or school groups, which must be reserved in advance. Both the Birdwatchers RV Park, South of San Antonio, 575-835-1366, and the Socorro RV Park, Frontage Road, 575-835-2234, can accommodate tent or RV campers.

6) When is the best time to visit the Refuge?

While there is always something interesting to see, you will find the greatest numbers of birds at the refuge during the winter months, i.e. from early November to mid-February. If you arrive shortly before dawn and wait near the flight deck observation area, you will see thousands of light geese milling around on the water. Just about the time the sun peeks over the hills, the flock responds to a subtle trigger and thousands of geese rise en masse from the water in a thrilling thunder of wings and fill the sky as they fly low over your head to the north to spend the day feeding in the fields. In the late afternoon they streak the sky in long wobbly skeins as they return to the water to roost for the night. The afternoon fly-in is almost as much fun as the morning fly-out. Hundreds of sandhill cranes fly out in smaller groups after the geese have left the ponds and return late in the afternoon. (Please click to see our Flyout & Sound page which opens in a separate window.)

Remember that pre-sunrise temperatures can be really low in the winter, be sure to dress in warm clothing. Check the weather forecast and sunrise and sunset times near the bottom of this page.

During the winter daylight hours you can drive the tour loop or hike the trails and see groups of light geese and cranes, thousands of ducks of many varieties, hundreds of Canada geese, dozens of hawks, eagles, blackbirds, crows, roadrunners, herons, sparrows, grebes, coots, and other birds along with occasional reptiles, amphibians and mammals, such as mule deer, coyotes, and jackrabbits. Check the sightings book in the visitor center or eBird for recent sightings.

The summer months are quieter as the refuge prepares for the upcoming fall migrations. Fields are tilled and crops raised to feed the upcoming winter migration. Maintenance of the refuge infrastructure, clearing of invasive tamarisk (salt cedar), and tight management of the available water flow are major staff and volunteer activities.

Summer is the time to see Canada geese, ducks, cormorants, grebes, heron and egrets (perhaps, nesting), ibis, killdeer, stilts, turkey vultures, hummingbirds, doves, pheasants, quail, turkeys, meadowlarks, finches, grackles, kingbirds, towhees, gulls, swallows, avocets and many other bird species along with mule deer and coyotes. American white pelicans pass through in the spring and fall. Bring your insect repellant; mosquitoes are numerous and voracious.

7) Are dogs allowed on the refuge?

To ensure that you and your pet enjoy a safe visit, follow all pet regulations while inside the refuge. Wildlife may be drawn to pets and their owners; pets can wander away and may never be found – the refuge is a wild place!

Pets are allowed on the Bosque del Apache NWR under the following conditions:

From October 1 thru March 31:

  • Pets must be inside the vehicle at all times while on the tour loop.
  • Pets are not allowed on any trails adjacent to the tour loop (this includes: Marsh boardwalk, Taylor memorial trail/overlook, Rio Viejo trail, observation blind/trail
  • Pets are not permitted on observation decks, or inside the visitor center.
  • Pets are permitted on all hiking trails west of highway1 (this Includes: Chupadera trail and Canyon trail) though they must be physically restrained at all times on a leash no longer than six feet in length

    From April 1 thru September 30:

  • Pets are permitted on all hiking trails though they must be physically restrained on a leash no longer than six feet in length...
  • Pets are not permitted on observation decks, or inside the visitor center.
  • Pets are permitted out of vehicles along the tour loop though they must be physically restrained at all times on a leash no longer than six feet in length

    8) Can I bicycle on the Refuge?
    Bicycling routes vary by season, so please call ahead (575-835-1828) if you are planning a biking trip. There are kiosks, signs, and staff in the visitor center to provide further details about a particular route. Please stay on the designated trails and roads.


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    Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
    P.O. Box 340, San Antonio, New Mexico 87832
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