Bosque del Apache is Spanish for "woods of the Apache," and is rooted in the time when the Spanish observed Apaches routinely camped in the riverside forest. Since then the name has come to mean one of the most spectacular national wildlife refuges in North America. Here, tens of thousands of birds--including sandhill cranes, Arctic geese, and many kinds of ducks--gather each autumn and stay through the winter. Feeding snow geese erupt in explosions of wings when frightened by a stalking coyote, and at dusk, flight after flight of geese and cranes return to roost in the marshes.
In the summer Bosque del Apache lives its quiet, green life as an oasis in the arid lands that surround it.
About the Refuge
The Refuge is 57,191 acres located along the Rio Grande near Socorro, New Mexico.The Refuge is located at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan desert, and straddles the Rio Grande, approximately 20 miles south of Socorro, New Mexico. 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 perted 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 Pasqual 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. The goal of refuge management is to provide habitat and protection for migratory birds and endangered species and provide the public with a high quality wildlife and educational experience.
Bosque del Apache is located on the northern edge of the Chihuahuan desert. Elevations range from about 4500 at the river level to 6,272 at the top of Chupadera peak and includes riparian and desert habitats. Consequently, the animals reflect the different habitats on the refuge. Several species of mammals including coyotes, mule deer, and elk occur on the refuge. Over 340 species of birds and many species of reptiles, amphibians and fish live here.
Plants are many and perse to reflect the different habitats of the refuge. Cottonwoods are spectacular in October/early November. Visit the Desert Arboretum and the plantings around the visitor center for a sample of plants found both on the refuge and in the North American deserts.
Refuge trails are easy hikes with benches and observation points along the way.
Hiking and nature observation can be enjoyed at the refuge's three wilderness areas - Chupadera, Indian Well, and Little San Pascual.
Visitors are welcome to picnic at their vehicles. Please pick up and pack out all litter.
Primitive camping is available on a reservation basis to educational and volunteer groups only. Pack out all litter. All fires are prohibited.
Management tools used on the refuge include farming, prescribed burning, exotic plant control, moist soil management, and water level manipulation.
Bosque del Apache NWR cooperates with local farmers to grow crops for wintering waterfowl and cranes. Farmers plant alfalfa and corn, harvesting the alfalfa and leaving the corn for wildlife. The refuge staff grows corn, winter wheat, clover, and native plants as additional food.
Lowering water levels in marshes to create moist fields promotes growth of native marsh plants. Marsh management is rotated so that varied habitats are always available. Dry impoundments are disced or burned, then re-flooded, to allow natural marsh plants to grow. When mature marsh conditions are reached, the cycle is repeated. Wildlife foods grown this way include smartweed, millets, chufa, bulrush, and sedges.
Many cottonwood and willow bosques that once lined the Rio Grande have been lost to human developments. Salt cedar or "tamarisk," originally introduced as an ornamental plant and for erosion control, has taken over vast areas and has low wildlife value. Salt cedar is being cleared and areas planted with cottonwood, black willow, and under story plants to restore native bosques that have higher value for wildlife.
Irrigation canals ensure critical water flow. Daily monitoring, mowing, and clearing keeps them functioning. Controlling the water enables refuge staff to manage the habitat.
Fees are $3.00 per car.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 1246
Socorro, New Mexico 87801