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  • Elk herd / Rob Larranaga, USFWS

    Enjoying the Refuge

    Resident elk, long-billed curlews and bald eagles are a few of the species that draw wildlife enthusiasts to Las Vegas Refuge.

    Visitor Activites

  • Refuge grasslands / USFWS

    The Meadows

    Las Vegas is Spanish for ‘The Meadows,’ an appropriate name for a high plains refuge blanketed in short and tall-grass prairie.

    Wildlife & Habitat

  • Mule deer does / Jenny and Oliver Davis ©

    Maxwell Refuge

    The refuge’s short-grass prairie, playa lakes, woodlots, wetlands & crop fields offer excellent wildlife watching year round.

    Refuge Website

  • Coyote near the refuge Visitor Center / USFWS

    For Wildlife and You

    National Wildlife Refuges are managed for wildlife and habitat and to ensure future generations will always have wild places to explore!

  • Buffalo cow with calves / Jenny and Oliver Davis ©

    Rio Mora Refuge

    The 4,600-acre refuge and conservation area promote the protection of private working ranches via conservation easements.

    Refuge Website


New Refuge

Rio Mora Ranch view / USFWS

The Mora River flows through the center of the new 4,4,224-acre refuge established in 2012. The Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, formerly the Wind River Ranch, is a continuation of the vision of philanthropist Eugene V. Thaw and his wife Clare E. Thaw who bought the Ranch in 1980 with the intent of protecting and restoring the land as a representative piece of southwestern ecological heritage. Inclusion of this important ranch and conservation area into the refuge system, coupled with the newly established Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area in Colorado, creates a wildlife corridor that will ensure protection and restoration of the Mora River watershed and one of the great prairie grassland landscapes of North America. The headquarters for Rio Mora are collocated with Las Vegas and Maxwell National Wildlife Refuges.

Learn More

About the NWRS

National Wildlife Refuge System


The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.

Learn more about the NWRS  

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  • Fall Flight Festival

    Red-tailed hawk perched on refuge fence post / USFWS

    The visitor center will be open each Sunday in November from 9am to 4pm for the traditional annual Fall Flight Festival featuring a 4.5 mile self-guided auto drive. This tour allows visitors to enjoy the vast spaciousness of short-grass prairie in areas of the refuge not typically open during the rest of the year. Migrating waterfowl will be limited but there will be grassland birds along with wintering raptors.

  • A Wild Read

    Blue jay / Frank Miles, USFWS

    In her essay, "Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah," Emily Hiestand writes of a blue jay pair building a nest in the wild black cherry tree outside her living room window. Frogs, sea turtles and backyard blue jays are all part of the latest stories about urban nature. Whether you are a nature enthusiast, book lover, young conservationist or teacher, you are invited to participate in America's WILD READ discussion.

    America's Discussion
Page Photo Credits — Canyon view down to the Gallinas River / USFWS, Elk herd / Rob Larranaga, USFWS, Refuge grasslands / USFWS, Mule deer does / Jenny and Oliver Davis ©, Coyote near the refuge Visitor Center / USFWS, Buffalo cow with calves / Jenny and Oliver Davis ©, Rio Mora Ranch view / USFWS, Red-tailed hawk perched on refuge fence post / USFWS, Blue jay / Frank Miles, USFWS, Long-billed dowitcher / Cyndi Souza, USFWS, All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted.
Last Updated: Oct 20, 2015
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