• Desert Bighorn Sheep close-up / USFWS

    Hunting Opportunity

    Occasional Big Game hunting opportunities within DOD White Sands Missile Range may allow escorted access onto San Andres Wildlife Refuge.

    Hunt Information

  • Black bear cooling off in wildlife water drinker, Refuge remote camera / USFWS

    Chihuahuan Desert Biome

    Our Refuge lies within the northern most extension of the Chihuahuan Desert. This habitat precludes any water recreation, such as fishing.

  • Javelina trio / Refuge remote camera, USFWS

    One of our State's nine …

    San Andres National Wildlife Refuge is the third largest and third oldest National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.

    New Mexico Wildlife Refuges

Rough and Rugged

Tales of Historic Legends

Historic rock house on refuge / M. Weisenberger, USFWS

The refuge’s namesake, the San Andres Mountains, was named in honor of Saint Andrew the Apostle by early Spanish settlers at the tiny village of Las Padillas. The history of the San Andres Mountains is rich with legends of lost gold mines and outlaws. The area was occupied as early as 900 A.D. by Native Americans. Remnants of rock houses and mines throughout the range are evidence of heavy mining activity in the area during the late 1800's and early 1900's. The mountains are reported to have been the stomping grounds of Black Jack Ketchem and the Apache Chief Geronimo. Apache Chief Victorio also frequented the San Andres Mountains with his warriors, and fought several skirmishes with the United States Cavalry. One legend tale is that a rock house in the area was at one time used by the outlaw William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid.

Pioneering Refuge Manager

28 hour old desert bighorn sheep lamb

San Andres National Wildlife Refuge's second Refuge Manager, Cecil Kennedy, was a real cowboy. He served as the refuge's Manager for 23 years before his retirement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He was one of the last refuge managers to conduct wildlife surveys on foot and horseback. A quote, from one of Kennedy's fellow refuge employees, Tom Emanuel, describes Kennedy as “looking like John Wayne.” "He was daring on horseback. He would do things others would consider risky, to cover the area. He was very good at what he did.” Tom Emanuel also remembers how "Kennedy loved those sheep." (This referred to a native, remnant herd of desert bighorn sheep. It was for the preservation and protection of this historic herd that initiated the establishment of San Andres National Wildlife Refuge.) Kennedy conducted ground surveys on the refuge to make sure every desert bighorn lamb was counted. The photo above is of a 28 hour old bighorn lamb whose birth was observed by refuge staff.

A Look Back . . . Cecil Kennedy

Leader in Energy Conservation

Refuge office Wind Generator at sunrise / C. Bartram, USFWS

San Andres National Wildlife Refuge was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy with a 2008 Federal Energy and Water Management Award. This honor was for efficient use of wind and water natural resources. The refuge is an area leader in the use of hybrid solar photovoltaic and wind energy systems.

Introducing San Andres National Wildlife Refuge To You!

Bringing San Andres National Wildlife Refuge to You

Desert bighorn sheep ewe with lamb / © Christina Rodden, DOD-WSMR

Our public website strives to bring the scenic beauty of San Andres National Wildlife Refuge to you. The refuge has restricted access due to its location within a military installation. See the link below for details.

Refuge's location, restricts access.


They Need You

Bat species / Refuge remote camera, USFWS

Help Pollinators - our bats, hummingbirds, bees, beetles, butterflies, moths, and flies. They need support from all of us! A few projects you can do at home to benefit a variety of pollinators, include: Planting a Pollinator Garden with a diversity of colorful, nectar and pollen producing flowers. Place the Garden away from roadways to prevent butterflies and moths from coming in contact with vehicles. Build a bee nesting block and a bat house. Do not harm bats out of fear and false myths. Avoid and/or limit pesticide use. Pesticides can kill more than the intended, nuisance pest. Some pesticide residues harm pollinators for several days after the pesticide is applied. Pollinators, play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction and in the production of most fruits and vegetables. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. The fruits and seeds of flowering plants are an important food source for people and wildlife. Some of the seeds that are not eaten will eventually produce new plants, helping to maintain the plant population. Pollinating animals are vital to our delicate ecosystem and positively affect all of our lives.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pollinators page

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