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“Guided Tours in Winter”

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Ranked #1 of 14 things to do in Socorro
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939 to provide "a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife" and to develop wintering grounds for greater sandhill cranes, which were then endangered.Located on the northern edge of the Chihuahuan desert, the 57,331-acre refuge straddles the Rio Grande approximately twenty miles south of Socorro, New Mexico. The heart of the refuge is 8,000 acres of floodplain where the waters of the Rio Grande have been diverted to create extensive wetlands and agricultural lands. The rest of the refuge is made up of arid foothills and mesas, which rise to the Chupadera Mountains to the west and San Pascual Mountains to the east. Most of these arid uplands are preserved in three Wilderness Areas.Bosque del Apache means "woods of the Apache," named for the Apaches that routinely camped in the riverside forest. Today, Bosque del Apache is known as one of the most spectacular refuges in North America. Each autumn, tens of thousands of birds - including sandhill cranes, Arctic geese and ducks - make the refuge their winter home. The air is filled with honking of geese and guttural call of cranes. Flocks of snow geese abandon their feeding grounds when frightened by a stalking coyote or eagle. At dusk, flights of geese and cranes return to roost tin the marshes or on the Rio Grande. In the summer, Bosque del Apache, thought quiet, remains an oasis for diversity of wildlife, both in the riparian areas and surrounding arid uplands.
New Mexico
Level 6 Contributor
103 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“Guided Tours in Winter”
Reviewed February 9, 2014

Bosque del Apache was a little disappointing, but let me stress, I am not a "birder." Everyone I encountered in the visitor center talked excitedly about the birds. Guided tours are offered on weekends, Dec-Feb. There is no charge for the tours and seating is limited, register in advance by calling the visitor center. Our 1 1/2 hour tour with a talkative guide was focused more on habitat and maintaining the refuge and less on bird sightings. We visited on a day trip and did not experience sunrise take-off or sunset touch down. However, we did witness a large group of snow geese (our guide estimated the number at 3500) fly in and settle on the water. Our tour guide thought the geese were arriving at Bosque del Apache from a location further south.

Visited February 2014
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Thank B H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Scottsdale, Arizona, United States
Level 5 Contributor
42 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Love the Snow Geese!”
Reviewed January 28, 2014

If you love wildlife, this is the place to visit. There is nothing more spectacular that the sunrise blastoff of Snow Geese! I guarantee that you will get more than your fill of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes. You can get so close to the wildlife!

Visited January 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Lawrence B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level 6 Contributor
1,533 reviews
718 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 948 helpful votes
“The Magic Kingdom”
Reviewed January 20, 2014

We reach the Entrance Booth about two hours before sundown and pay the extremely reasonable fee of $5, entitling us to a brochure and map. We first turn right and drive South along a Laguna and marsh. The driving loop is 12 miles and two-way in this portion, becoming one way once it turns East and then North. The entire Eastern side of the Loop follows the Low Flow Conveyance Channel of the Rio Grande. There are several decks built specifically for watching and photographing. The landscape alternates between marsh and more watery spaces and presents different species along the way. We want to drive the entire loop before choosing the place to stop awaiting the arrival of the birds at sunset. As it turns, we are rewarded with the view of thousands of ducks, snow geese and sandhill cranes visible from the Flight Deck. We park and join the crowd of Photographers and Bird Watchers. Big Bertha, my 600mm Canon lens, distracts the photographers for a brief moment and some come to check her out, but soon remember about the business at hand and go back to fiddling with their equipment, while observing and photographing the arriving birds. Ducks, snow geese and cranes, thousands of them, start landing in the water, lit by the rays of the going down sun. The sky turns from blue to pink to purple to violet and blue again, but very dark this time around. The chatter of the birds gets louder by the minute. I take a moment to look at the people surrounding me: there is a smile on every face, it's a Holiday, a Celebration of Man being close to Nature, indescribable feeling of Joy and Happiness! I take about thousand pictures (literally) and finally leave when it is too dark to see anything, let alone photograph.
Next morning we are up at 5:30 since we have about half an hour drive from our hotel, a Comfort Inn in Socorro, not a good place (see my separate review). Soon after we leave the highway and take the turn for the Preserve, I notice a bunch of cars parked on the right side of the road, way before the entrance: this must be another good observation point, but I prefer to drive to the actual loop which I know by now. We are back at the Flight Deck half an hour before sunrise. The noise is increasing by the minute. We are all ready and waiting. Suddenly, the miracle happens: without any warning, thousand and thousands of birds lift up and take to the purple-orange sky. Somebody wonders loudly "what triggered it?"... we don't know... we just know that it is beautiful and amazing and unforgettable... Thank you, Mother Nature!

Visited January 2014
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4 Thank Oliver S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level 5 Contributor
67 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Eagles, Hawks, Sandhill cranes coyotes”
Reviewed January 16, 2014

Between November and February you find all types of migratory birds but year round there is wildlife to admire and get close and personal with. In late December to late January Eagles can be found in the trees on the Northern edge of the refuge along the river. You can not drive close but you can walk along the water canals and get close enough to photograph them. Binoculars and spotting scopes will be helpful. I have made this a part of my fall pilgrimage for many years. Around Thanksgiving 10's of thousands of Large Sandhill Cranes and Canadian Geese and Ducks will fill the air at sunrise or sunset. Acres and acres of cranes is an unbelievable sight! Coyotes hunt the birds at night while they sleep. There is a great visitors center with information and this is a day trip from Albuquerque. Sunsets and Sunrises are the best but 2.5 hrs away from Albuquerque. Socorro is nearby and there are some B&Bs in the area. Very quiet place to get away for picnics.

Visited November 2013
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Thank Jimminnm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tallahassee, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
91 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Winter is Perfect”
Reviewed January 10, 2014

The December day we visited the Refuge, we were amazed at the numbers of birds. Not to mention the buck we saw not 50 yards from the entrance. There was a section of the Refuge we were told about when we entered where corn fields were being harvested. There were very large flocks of Sand Hill Cranes and Canadian Snow Geese.

We also saw a large flocks of different types of ducks and numerous hawks.

Well worth a drive through, especially in Winter.

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
Thank HeadofSpreesUS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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