Rules and Regulations

Riparian area on the refuge  / © Gina DelloRusso

In order to protect the integrity of refuge lands, there are certain rules and regulations that must be adhered to when visiting. Activities not expressly allowed are prohibited. If you have any questions, please check with refuge staff at the visitor center. For a listing of regulations, please refer to the Code of Federal Regulations.

  • We only allow persons to be in open areas of the refuge from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Open areas of the refuge include: the Auto Tour Route (Tour Loop or Scenic Drive) and adjacent facilities, the Wilderness Area, Hunt Areas, overlooks, parking areas, and trails. 
  • We do not allow members of the public to enter closed areas. Please obey all area closed signs. 
  • We do not allow camping or overnight parking anywhere on the refuge. 
  • We do not allow commercial activities without a valid special use permit issued by us.
  • We protect all plants, animals, animal parts, rocks, minerals, artifacts, and cultural features on the refuge, and it is illegal to damage or remove them; hunters and anglers may remove legally harvested game.
  • We only allow in-season hunting, fishing, and frogging for select species in designated hunting and fishing areas. We do not allow the take of any other wildlife. 
  • We do not allow falconry on the refuge. 
  • We do not allow the release or introduction of any animal or plant including, but not limited to, wildlife or unwanted pets on the refuge. 
  • We only allow the use of street legal motor vehicles and only on designated roads. 
  • We allow bicycling and e-bikes year-round on Bosque Road, at El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro - Point of Lands Overlook, and on the Bike Trail (Low Flow Conveyance Channel East Service Road). From April 1 - September 30, we also allow bicycling and e-bikes on the North and South Loops of the Auto Tour Route. The only trail we allow bicycling and e-bikes on is the Bike Trail; we do not allow bicycling or e-bikes on any other trails or decks.  We allow bicycling and e-bikes on the East Side Service Road when in support of hunting.
  • We do not allow the use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs / ATVs / UTVs). 
  • The maximum speed limit on the Auto Tour Route (Tour Loop or Scenic Drive) is 25 mph. 
  • We do not allow vehicle operators to be under the influence of intoxicating beverages or controlled substances. 
  • We strictly enforce pet regulations. Pets must be physically restrained on a leash no longer than six feet in length. Pets are not allowed on observation decks, the Bike Trail or in the Visitor Center. Hunters are allowed to use dogs when hunting, as per State of New Mexico hunting regulations. Dogs must be restrained when not hunting. 
  • From October 1 - March 31, we do not allow pets outside of vehicles anywhere along the Auto Tour Route (Tour Loop) or on any of the adjoining trails. From April 1 - September 30, we allow pets outside of vehicles on the Auto Tour Route (Tour Loop) and adjoining trails (see pet regulations above).
  • We do not allow the launching, landing or operation of unmanned aerial systems (drones).
  • We do not allow the unauthorized operation of aircraft at altitudes resulting in harassment of wildlife, or the unauthorized landing or take-off of aircraft on the refuge except in emergencies.
  • We do not allow the harassment or feeding of wildlife.
  • We do not allow unauthorized grazing of livestock. 
  • Horseback riding is only allowed on the East Side of the refuge in support of legal hunting in the hunt area. 
  • We do not allow canoeing, boating, floating, swimming, or wading in any arroyos, wetlands or water delivery ditches, canals, drains, or channels. 
  • We do not allow the use of permanent blinds or pits.
  • We do not allow open fires. 
  • Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations. We do not allow the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon inside federal facilities unless specifically authorized 18 USC 930(a). Possession violations are subject to fine and or imprisonment up to one year, while 18 USC 930(b) possession violations with intent to commit a crime are punishable by a fine and imprisonment up to five years.