Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Snow geese at Bosque del Apache
Map showing the location of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Location Socorro County, New Mexico, United States
Nearest city San Antonio, NM
Coordinates 33°52′9″N 106°50′34.6″W / 33.86917°N 106.842944°W / 33.86917; -106.842944Coordinates: 33°52′9″N 106°50′34.6″W / 33.86917°N 106.842944°W / 33.86917; -106.842944
Area 57,331 acres (232.01 km2)[1]
Established 1939[2]
Visitors 160,000 (in 2006)
Governing body U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Website Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Sandhill cranes at Bosque del Apache

The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (/ˈbskɛ dɛl əˈpæ/ BOHS-ke del ə-PACH-ee), in southern Socorro County, New Mexico, is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.[3] It lies in the Albuquerque Basin, near the Rio Grande astride New Mexico Route 1, formerly U.S. Highway 85. The refuge was founded in 1939.


The name of the refuge means "forest of the Apache" in Spanish, referring to a time when Apaches frequently camped in the riverside forest there.[4]

The heart of the refuge comprises approximately 3,800 acres (15 km2) of Rio Grande floodplain and 9,100 acres (37 km2) of irrigated farms and wetlands. In addition to this, the refuge contains 44,300 acres (179 km2) of arid grasslands and foothills of the Chupadera and San Pascual Mountains.[3] About 30,000 acres (120 km2) of this is designated as wilderness.[2] A twelve-mile-long (19 km) loop road divided by a cutoff into a "Farm Loop" and "Marsh Loop" allows automobile drivers excellent views of wetland wildlife and raptors, and there are several short (1.5 to 10 miles) walking trails. The road affords good views of the fields where crops are grown for the benefit of the birds under cooperative agreements with farmers. Adjacent to the Visitor's Center, a desert plant garden is maintained.[5]


Some 377 species of birds have been observed on the refuge since 1940.[6] The wetlands attract the huge flocks of wintering cranes and geese that are the refuge's most interesting feature. Many other species—notably waterfowl, shorebirds, and birds of prey—also winter in the refuge. Striking vagrants such as a groove-billed ani have been found there. In the Chihuahuan desert terrain outside of the Rio Grande riparian zone, the refuge also hosts three federally designated Wilderness areas (Chupadera, Little San Pascual, and Indian Well).

The diversity of birds is also high in spring, particularly the last week of April and first week of May, and in fall. In summer the area is hot but many water birds can be found, including such New Mexico rarities as the least bittern and occasionally the little blue heron. Late November to late February is the best time for large numbers of birds, typically over 10,000 sandhill cranes and over 20,000 Ross's and snow geese. An annual 'festival of the cranes' is held the weekend before Thanksgiving as large numbers of cranes begin arriving in the refuge. Winter visitors generally plan to be in the refuge at sunrise or sunset, when the flocks of cranes and geese that roost in the refuge "commute" to or from local fields where they feed. Although winter sunsets and especially sunrises are chilly, the daily low temperature is seldom far below freezing. Visitors typically stay in the nearby RV park or in Socorro or San Antonio.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Annual Report of Lands as of September 30, 2009" (PDF). United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Bosque del Apache NWR" (PDF). Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "About the Refuge". Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Bosque del Apache NWR". Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  5. ^ "Tour loop map". Friends of the Bosque. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  6. ^ "Bird Checklists of the United States: Bosque del Apache NWR". USGS. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 

Further reading

  • John E. Parmeter, New Mexico Bird Finding Guide.
  • Sharp, Jay W. "In Celebration of Wildlife". Desert USA. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 

External links