Visitor Activities

Female waterfowl hunter on Wildlife Refuge / USFWS

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, including seasonal hunting.  Refuge trails are open all year from sunrise to sunset, free of charge!  Stop by the Visitor Center, when open, Monday through Friday to find out what is happening on the refuge.

The refuge has seasonal Hunting for:  waterfowl, sandhill crane, quail, dove, pheasant (for youth only), feral hog, rabbit, and deer hunting available within the refuge during specific dates with set bag limits. The annual Hunt Season begins September 1 and runs through February 15. The refuge also hosts an annual Youth Upland Game Workshop and Pheasant-Quail Hunt on the first Saturday in December, beginning at 6:00 am. This hunting opportunity is for youth 17 years and younger. Sixteen youth are drawn to participate in this annual Upland Game Workshop and Pheasant-Quail Hunt. The selected draws are notified by mid-November. For more information on seasonal hunting opportunities, you may contact us at (575) 622-6755 or email

Wildlife Watching and Nature Trails
Four short trails and two longer hiking trails are available adjacent to the Refuge Headquarters and Wildlife Drive. 

•  Butterfly Trail – Near the Headquarters, this 1/4 mile trail provides interpretive information
   about butterflies and landscaping to attract these beautiful insects.  This is a perfect location
    to view native vegetation.

•  Wildlife Drive/Auto Tour Loop -- The eight-mile wildlife drive is one of the best ways to
   observe wildlife.  Take advantage of the overlooks to get great views of flocks of Lesser
   sandhill cranes and Ross’ and snow geese, or to spot the coyotes and red-tail hawks criss-
   crossing the wetlands Drive slowly and watch for basking spiny softshell turtles, coachwhip
   snakes and checkered whiptail lizards.  

•  Oxbow trail - About 4 miles from the Refuge headquarters office off the auto tour route, this
    trails used to be connected to the Pecos River.  The deep water channel is an
   excellent location for bird watching and is approximately two miles long. 

•  Desert Upland Trail - This 1 mile trail takes you through an area that hosts an assortment of
   native plant species.  Shrubs and thicket areas provide excellent quail and songbird viewing. 

•  Dragonfly Trail -- Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is famous for supporting one of the
   most diverse populations of dragonflies and damselflies in North America. Just less than
   one mile on the wildlife drive, you can enjoy dragonfly watching on this trail. 

•  The North Tract (12,160 acres) of the refuge, including the wilderness area, is open to hiking
   and horseback riding.   

Bike riding is permitted on the eight-mile gravel wildlife drive or the refuge's paved four mile (round trip) bike trail.