The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, fondly known as "The Bosque," is in New Mexico near the small town of San Antonio, NM, 9 mi. south of Socorro, and less than an hour and a half from Albuquerque.
Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese and many other migrating birds make the Bosque their winter home in beautiful New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment with incomparable sunsets, delicate multicolored mountains, intense blue skies and special light.
Bosque del Apache translates as "Woods of the Apache." Native Americans often camped at this river-side forest, and the area was occupied by Pueblo Peoples for centuries before the Spanish explorers established the Camino Real (the Royal Road from Mexico City to Santa Fe) in the sixteenth century. The Camino Real ran right through the present-day Refuge.
The Refuge is 57,331 acres located along the Rio Grande, and is located at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan desert, and straddles the Rio Grande. The heart of the Refuge is about 12,900 acres of moist bottomlands--3,800 acres are active floodplain of the Rio Grande and 9,100 acres are areas where water is diverted to create extensive wetlands, farmlands, and riparian forests. The rest of Bosque del Apache NWR is made up of arid foothills and mesas, which rise to the Chupadera Mountains on the west and the San Pascual Mountains on the east. Most of these desert lands are preserved as wilderness areas.
Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bosque del Apache NWR is an important link in the more than 500 refuges in North America. According to the U.S. F & W, their goal "is to provide habitat and protection for migratory birds and endangered species and provide the public with a high quality wildlife and educational experience."
Please see a great Fish & Wildlife Video about the Bosque del Apache National Wildlfie Refuge on a separate page, provided courtesy of PublicResource.org. It is a wonderful video, also posted on YouTube. Please see it by clicking here Click here to see it!.
The Refuge is an important wintering home for Sandhill Cranes, and will host as many as 14,000 during the winter months. Cranes will begin arriving in November, and will leave as late as the end of February, heading for Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge and Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge for a month or two before migrating onwards to Greys' Lake, Idaho, their breeding grounds.
The Bosque provides a critical Refuge for Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds, providing food, protection and shelter. The Bosque is a critical habitat for a large number of resident birds and wildlife as well.
The Bosque is also home to over 32,000 Snow Geese and Ross Geese, dozens of Bald Eagles and Goldens, Great Blue Herons, Occasional Pelicans, Avocets, and many, many other birds. This beautiful Refuge is also home to small herds of Mule Deer and families of Coyotes. Seeing the sunset "Fly In" and the dawn "Fly Out" is an experience you will never forget! If you are lucky you can also see what we call "Puffs" of Snow Geese, thousands rising into the air, sometimes within 10- 20 feet of you. The sound of wings and the sound of geese talking is a fantastic, primordial experience, guaranteed to "wow" you out of your worries and "wow" you out of your own body, and guaranteed to lift your soul to join them.
The Bosque del Apache NWR is a Refuge for All Seasons, so if you are planning a trip to visit our refuge, you'll want to check what you might see when you are here. Our Seasonal Birding pages are helpful pages for planning photography trips, too. There you will find links to pages for each season with with bird and wildlife lists and locations.
- Bird Checklists for each season at the Bosque A Refuge for All Seasons
- Bosque del Apache NWR Counts: (3 Pages pdf file - very small file - 90K)
1. Weekly Waterfowl Count 2005-2010
2. Weekly Sandhill Crane Count 2006-2011
3. Weekly Light Goose Count 2006-2011
- Middle Rio Grande Valley-Wide Counts:(4 pages pdf file - very small file 100K)
1. Average Sandhill Crane Populations 2000-2010
2. Middle Rio Grande Sandhill Cranes Weekly 2000-2010
3. Average Light Goose Populations 2000-2010
4. Middle Rio Grande Light Goose Weekly 2000-2010
- US Fish & Wildlife Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Bird Check List (pdf)
Read About the 10 Million Year Old Fossil Discovered at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Paleontologists from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science have confirmed the fossil is from an oreodont, an extinct group of hoofed ungulates that were unique to North America and lived during the Miocene era between 10 and 15 million years ago.
We have a fascinating section for Research and Monitoring Projects at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
At Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, research and monitoring help biologists develop and adapt management techniques, determine priorities, and learn more about the plants and animals with which the Refuge is entrusted. We have an annual poster symposium at the Festival of the Cranes and this was initated to disseminate information to the general public and encourage collaboration among the research community. There were many fascinating research projects that have been active here, and one year's projects numbered over 35 and included monitoring native bee communities in areas of Tamarisk removal, studies of the Endangered Meadow Jumping Mouse (pictured at right), Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, YBCU (Yellow Billed Cuckoo), rattlesnake research, Puma Research, Avian influenzia, Riparian evapotranspiration studies, Fish and Invert studies, Rio Grande Silvery Minnow life stages, and much more
Clicking the words below will take you to some of our most informative and popular pages for birding and wildlife information:
(Please click to see Flyout page & Sound pages which open in separate windows)
Please see the wonderful Bosque photo slide show by photographer Wally Newman (also opens in a seperate window... 1MB file) and see the slideshow just below which will give you an idea ofour spectacular Refuge.
Please check both our FAQ and Refuge Rules & Regulations For Planning your Trip
The Refuge is continuously involved in solar power. Beginning in 2008 they installed solar powered water heaters in two of its residences and at the Volunteer Lounge. In addition, a 6 kilowatt solar system was installed at the Fire Shop and a 12 kilowatt system on the Farm Shop building. The Refuge hopes that with the new solar system in place it will not only save tax payer money in the long run, but further the Refuge's commitment for promoting a "greener" approach to management of its facilities and create a healthier environment for us all. The new solar system will also be used by the Refuge as an environmental education tool. Refuge visitors and interested public can access the web to learn more about the Refuge's 6 and 12 kilowatt systems at:
"I saw them first many Novembers ago and heard their triumphant trumpet calls, a hundred or more sandhill cranes riding south on a thermal above the Rio Grande Valley, and that day their effortless flight and their brassy music got into my soul." .... Charles Kuralt
Charles Kuralt loved the Bosque del Apache NWR. He visited the Refuge many times and featured it on his Sunday Morning television show often. His vivid memory of first experiencing the sandhill cranes rings true with all of us who also love this beautiful oasis.
Let us introduce you to the wonders of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Bosque del Apache means "Woods of the Apache". These Native Americans often camped at this river-side forest. The area was well used for centuries before the Spanish explorers established the Camino Real (the Royal Road from Mexico City to Santa Fe) in the sixteenth century. The Camino Real ran right through the present-day Refuge.The Spanish also stopped here, as did the Union Army and the Confederate Forces during the Civil War. The Bosque del Apache has a fascinating history, although today the wildlife is the big story.
The Visitor Center
Any visit to the Bosque del Apache NWR really must start with the Visitor Center (phone: 575-835-1828) , open from 7:30 to 4:00 daily (8:00 to 4:30 weekends) except major holidays. The volunteers at the Center keep current figures on the latest wildlife sightings, the best spots for viewing, and all sorts of local lore. The exhibits tell the story of the Refuge, and of the cranes, geese and seasonal wildlife you can expect to see, and a little about the Rio Grande river valley.
The Center Nature Store and Gift Shop is always a great stop for unusual gifts.
The Loop Tours
At the Visitor Center you can check out an audio-tape that explains all the secret corners along the 15-mile Loop Tour, as well as the work done each season to keep the Refuge in shape for the birds. The tour route is open from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, every day of the year. While vehicles must stay on established roads, the automobile can actually make it easier to see the wildlife. It acts as a "blind", since the wildlife is accustomed to traffic on the roads. Of course, you don't have to stay in your car; there are multiple viewing decks, boardwalks, bird blinds and nature trails accessible from the roadway. Just be sure to avoid the closed areas, which change from season to season to best protect the animals. And don't forget your camera; the Refuge is a wonderful place for photography.
|Viewing Tips |
Dawn and dusk are the best times to see wildlife. The heat of midday discourages animal activity, especially in the summertime. Observe from the sidelines, and do not approach or feed the wildlife. Drive slowly and stop frequently to scan for hiding places. Often times the animals reappear after a quiet interval. Use binoculars or a spotting scope to get a closer look.
Each season has its own unique wildlife viewing opportunities. "High Season" is wintertime, when sandhill cranes, snow geese, bald eagles and a multitude of ducks crowd the Refuge. Spring is an excellent time for shorebirds and waders, who stop here to rest and re-hydrate while migrating across the desert. Summer and early fall are more quiet, but many ducks, hawks and songbirds make the Refuge their year-round home, along with deer, coyotes, turkey, pheasant and occasional elk. Then sometime in October, the excitement starts all over again with the fall migration.
The Wilderness Areas Bosque del Apache NWR has approximately 30,000 acres of declared wilderness. The Chupadera, Indian Wells and Little San Pasqual Wilderness Areas are desert habitat, with no available water. Hiking and nature observation can be enjoyed, but it's wise to check with the Visitor Center for current information before starting out.
A Place Full of Wonder The Bosque del Apache NWR is rightfully considered one of the most spectacular Wildlife Refuges in North America. Once you have experienced the honking of masses of geese, or the guttural calling of hundreds of cranes, or watched as a stalking coyote causes thousands of snow geese to lift off from a cornfield, or marveled at the lift-off of masses of birds just as the sun breaks the horizon, then you, with Charles Kuralt, will feel the Bosque del Apache "get into your soul"