Visitor Center and Nature Store
The visitor center is the perfect place to start and end your adventure at Bosque del Apache NWR. Information about wildlife, trails and recreational opportunities on the refuge are readily available from one of our friendly rangers or volunteers. Brand new interpretive exhibits tell stories about the wildlife, management and history of the refuge and have great activities for the kids. The viewing window is a great spot to see migrant songbirds, resident quail and their chicks, and even busy packrats depending on the season.
The Bosque Nature Store, operated by the Friends of the Bosque del Apache to raise funds for refuge programs, offers the region’s finest selection of Southwest and nature-themed books, clothing, jewelry, kids items, artwork, and gifts, plus refuge entrance passes. There is a water fountain and bottle filler just inside the visitor center, and restroom facilities are located in the adjacent building. During summer the outdoor benches on the west side of the visitor center are a great place to take a break or snap some pictures of the colorful hummingbirds.
The Desert Arboretum is located near the visitor center. This peaceful garden exhibits many of the cacti and other plants of the Northern Chihuahuan Desert. In the spring the arboretum is awash in color as the claret cups, prickly pears, chollas, barrels, and other cacti bloom in succession. During the warm summer and fall months blossoming wildflowers appear, and several species of lizards dart underfoot. A small vernal pool provides a quiet, shady place for visitors to sit and enjoy the busy lives of insects such as native bees and butterflies.
The 12-mile Tour Loop (larger map) winds through wetlands, screwbean mesquite savannas and cottonwood forests that the refuge manages for wildlife. During winter, up to 100,000 sandhill cranes, snow geese and ducks fill the refuge’s wetlands and agricultural fields, some of which may be seen from the Tour Loop. During summer, the wetland areas are dried to encourage plant growth, and songbirds, raptors, deer and coyotes are frequently seen. Seeds and plant material grown during the summer become important food sources for the birds in the winter. Six accessible observation decks are located along the tour loop and provide an elevated platform for wildlife observation and photography. Location, season, water availability, habitat conditions, and time of day influence the wildlife visible from a particular deck. Audio tours for either the “summer“ (May-October) or “winter” (October-April) seasons are available in the Nature Store and through the seasonal fee booth. Each audio tour is full of wildlife observation tips, natural history facts and much more. Please help keep the wildlife and other refuge visitors safe by observing the 25 mph speed limit and parking only in designated areas.
The Observation Blind, donated by the Central New Mexico Audubon Society, is just a short walk from the North Loop. It provides a unique opportunity to observe and photograph undisturbed waterfowl up close. The quack of mallards, fluting trill of pintails, chatter of snow geese, and voices of many other species of waterbirds make this a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch in the winter.
Point of Lands Scenic Overlook
The first known drawing of the area, an 1846 sketch by Lt. Abert, topographical surveyor for the U.S. Army, featured sandhill cranes with the imposing cliffs of Point of Lands in the distance. Located on Highway 1 approximately 5 miles south of the visitor center, the Point of Lands Scenic Overlook sits atop this historic landmark and provides a majestic view of the wetlands and three wilderness areas of Bosque del Apache NWR. Almost all of the 57, 331 acres of the refuge are visible from the Overlook, including the mesa associated with the first Piro Indian settlements and the historic trail, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.