Established in 1939 to provide a critical stopover for migrating waterfowl, the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is well known for the thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl that winter there each year.
Situated between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east, the 57,331-acre refuge harbors a wild stretch of the Rio Grande, a ribbon of cottonwood and willow trees visible on the landscape from distant mesas.
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.
Some 377 species of birds have been observed on the refuge since 1940.