Bosque del Apache
National Wildlife Refuge
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.
Today, this is one of the most spectacular national wildlife refuges in North America.
Native Americans often camped at this river-side forest. The area was well used for centuries before the Spanish explorers established the Camino Real (the Royal Road from Mexico City to Santa Fe) in the sixteenth century.
The Camino Real ran right through the present-day Refuge. The Spanish also stopped here, as did the Union Army and the Confederate Forces during the Civil War.
The refuge, created in 1939, is located at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert and straddles the Rio Grande, approximately twenty miles south of Socorro, in the US State of New Mexico.
The managed part 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 diverted to create extensive wetlands, farmlands, and riparian forests.
The rest of Bosque del Apache NWR is made up of arid foothills and mesas. Most of these desert lands are preserved as wilderness areas.
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 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.
Each year, the City of Socorro, New Mexico, and the Bosque del Apache NWR celebrate the return of the sandhill cranes with the Festival of the Cranes. The population of these birds at the refuge has increased from 20 in 1941 to nearly 15,000 today.
We would like to thank the following for providing information for this page:
- Daniel Perry, Outdoor Recreation Planner, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- Park Borgeson of the Friends of the Bosque
- Friends of the Bosque website
(This page was updated October 2012.)