Sights and Activities
The longer trails in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge cross the barren hills to the west (designated wilderness areas), so are not especially interesting, encountering similar terrain to any other elevated part of the New Mexico desert. Routes include the 2.5 mile (loop) Canyon Trail
in the Indian Well Wilderness Area, and the more strenuous, 5 mile Chupadera Trail
across the mountains in the northwest part of the reserve.
Instead, most visitors just drive the 12 mile Wildlife Tour road through the refuge, stopping at various overlooks and short paths. The road consists of two linked circuits, the Marsh Loop
through wetlands in the south, and the Farm Loop
across cultivated terrain in the north; both loops are wide gravel tracks running alongside the straight drainage channels that criss-cross the refuge, and pass many lesser tracks, closed to the public. The waters flow generally from north to south, over a few small weirs, and are periodically diverted to flood areas between the canals, land which is covered variously by grass, bushes or forest, so the inundation produces either long stretches of unbroken water, or swamp with trees and other vegetation. Most overlooks along the Marsh Loop are for birdwatching, or just looking at the riparian landscape; other attractions are a boardwalk trail across one of the permanent ponds (a good place to see fish and painted turtles), the 1.5 Marsh Overlook Trail
, the 2 mile Rio Viejo Trail
and the 2 mile River Trail
, looping through bushy land close to the Rio Grande. Apart from this path, the Rio Grande is out of sight, flowing a little way east of a larger canal (Low Flow Conveyance Channel) which runs near the far side of the loop drive. The Farm Loop is less interesting as it passes cultivated ground where research into different methods of crop production takes place, though this region is still good for bird watching, and even the fields have their own viewing platforms.