About the Refuge

Landscape view of Mora River through refuge canyon / R. Larranaga, USFWS

The Mora River flows through the center of the 4,224-acre refuge situated in the transition zone between the Great Plains and Southern Rocky mountains in northeastern New Mexico.


Formerly the Wind River Ranch, the refuge and conservation area are 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. To that end, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to facilitate partnerships to provide protection and cooperative management within the Mora River watershed, the Rio Mora Conservation Area.

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. It will benefit many grassland and woodland species, including the southwestern willow flycatcher.

The Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge offers wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities, including wildlife watching and photography, and seasonal hunting when announced. The refuge will also serve to demonstrate methods for management, protection, and restoration of the wildlife and natural resources within the Mora River watershed.

The Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge was established in 2012 and is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters set aside for the benefit of wildlife, habitat, and you.