Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Visit Bosque del Apache for great fall bird watching and Festival of the Cranes

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 
Thousands of migrating birds are back at the Bosque del Apache and fall is a great time to visit the refuge and enjoy the spectacular wildlife display.

“The show is on,” says Chris Leeser of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. “Now is the perfect time to come and enjoy the fall colors along with all the birds.”

The 57,000 acre wetland refuge provides migrating waterfowl a place to stop, rest and feed during their travels south for the winter. 

Many cranes, geese and ducks stay on at the refuge where food and water is abundant and there’s plenty of open space.

Visitors to the refuge especially in the morning and evening will enjoy watching large groups of birds taking off and landing amid a symphony bird calls.

Other wildlife also live on the refuge and visitors may see coyotes stalking the flocks, turkeys strutting or deer grazing in the fields.

The refuge features a popular 12-mile long auto tour route that wends its way among the marshes, ponds and fields of the refuge.

The refuge also features numerous hiking trails and roadside viewing areas. There is no camping or overnight parking allowed on the refuge. Pets are not allowed outside of vehicles from Oct. 1 through March 31. The refuge is open one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. The entrance fee is $5. Visit the refuge’s website at for more information or call them at 575-835-1828.

Those traveling to the refuge may want to save their appetite for when they get there as the nearby town of San Antonio features three of New Mexico’ best green chile cheeseburger joints, the Owl, Buckhorn and Crane cafes.

Next month the refuge will host the 32nd annual Festival of the Cranes from Nov. 20 through Nov. 23 with more than 130 events scheduled.

The festival some call New Mexico’s balloon fiesta for birdwatchers draws thousands of visitors from all over the world who participate in photography classes, seminars, tours and other activities. Visit the website for more information and registration.

Many visitors come to photograph the cranes known for their artful dancing and posturing while sweeping vistas, deep blue skies and immense cloud formations serve as the backdrop.

The refuge is about 95 miles south of Albuquerque off Interstate 25. While in the area the public is welcome to visit the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish’s 17,000 acre Bernardo Wildlife Area where crops are grown to feed migrating birds. The area features a three-mile auto tour loop and several elevated viewing platforms where visitors can watch birds. 

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