Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Twenty miles to the south of Socorro lies the famous Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, the winter home of thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese, ducks and other waterfowl. The 57,000+ acre refuge opened in 1939 to “provide a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife” as well as wintering grounds for the then-endangered greater sandhill cranes. Today it is one of the most highly managed refuges in the national system. The arrival of the sandhill cranes each year is celebrated by a 6-day festival each November. The cranes and snow geese generally remain on the refuge until mid-February when they return to their breeding grounds in the north. Even with their departure the refuge remains a wonderful place for hiking, biking and wildlife- and bird-watching year round. You will want to drive the auto Tour Loop to get up close to the wildlife and their habitat. The Visitor Center is open from 7:30am to 4:00pm on weekdays and 8:00am to 4:30pm on weekends, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and July 4.