San Andres National Wildlife Refuge is located in south central New Mexico, east of the City of Las Cruces and west of the City of Alamogordo. The refuge itself is not open to the general public for safety and security restrictions imposed by the Department of Defense, Department of the Army, White Sands Missile Range. The refuge is encompassed with the boundaries of White Sands Missile Range's 2.2 million-acres and subject to the protocols of this military installation. For more information on the limited access, please see our Alert page.
You can enjoy outdoor recreational areas that are open to the public, located just to the south and east of the refuge.
These public lands are the same Chihuahuan desert habitat as found on San Andres National Wildlife Refuge and they are federally managed under the Department of the Interior as well. The closest public use areas are managed by the Bureau of Land Management and they provide maintained hiking trails, picnic tables, and public facilities. Two of the areas are at the base of each side of the picturesque Organ Mountains' range, our nation's most recently established National Monument, titled: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. On the west side of the Organ Mountains' range is Dripping Springs Natural Area and on the east side of the range is Aguirre Spring Campground. The Bureau of Land Management also offers hiking trails further down on the southeast side of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.
White Sands Missile Range operates an informative museum with indoor and outdoor exhibits and displays. The museum showcases the history of the Missile Range to the present. There is an array of actual missiles on display in their missile park.
Often referred to as one of the natural wonders of the world is White Sands National Monument, further to the east of the refuge. This white gypsum, sand dunes recreation area is managed by the National Park Service. You can see expansive views of the San Andres Mountain range, the refuge's namesake, from the Monument's west facing boundary. It is a direct view to the mountain range which is located on the north side of Highway 70, as is White Sands National Monument.
For a magnificent view of the San Andres Mountain Range, visit the interpretive kiosk at San Augustine Pass on Highway 70 (south side) between Las Cruces and Alamogordo. The kiosk panels highlight all of the above referenced federal government lands.
Two of our Agency' National Wildlife Refuges are only about an hour and a half distance drive from Las Cruces. They are: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge accessed off of Interstate 25 north at the San Marcial exit 124 or the San Antonio exit 139 and Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge accessed off of Interstate 25 at exit 169 just north of San Acacia, New Mexico. Both of these New Mexico refuges are open to the public and have a newly remodeled Visitor Center, Gift Shop, and public facilities. Both of these refuges offer scheduled activities for the public including nature hikes, guest speaker presentations, and hands-on activities for the entire family. All free of charge.
Within a few hours drive from our refuge's location is Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge which is located in eastern New Mexico, just to the north of Roswell, New Mexico. Famous for the UFO incident of 1941 and the alien sighting! Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is also open to the public and has a beautiful Visitor Center with amazing views. They also have a gift shop and public facilities.
All three of these refuges which are open to the public, include Chihuahuan desert habitat.
New Mexico's newest National Wildlife Refuge is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico ~ Yes, IN the city of Albuquerque! It is our Agency's Southwest Region's first Urban Wildlife Refuge called Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. It is open to the public and provides many outreach programs.
For relieve from the State's southwest deserts, New Mexico has three northern wildlife refuges located in Las Vegas -the refuge has the same namesake - Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge. Then further north is Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge which is west of Springer, New Mexico. And, our State's other new National Wildlife Refuge, Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge. Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge is the only refuge of the three northern refuges that is not open to the public at this time. Bother Las Vegas and Maxwell National Wildlife Refuges are open to the public and have a Visitor Center and public facilities. Both of these refuges provide programs for the public throughout the year, free of charge.
Beginning in August, San Andres National Wildlife Refuge becomes mobile and you can see us at the Otero County Fair in Alamogordo, New Mexico. (This year's dates are August 13-16.) Then find us at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge for their annual Dragonfly Festival on Saturday, September 6 this fall. And, from there we are back home in Doña Ana County for the Southern New Mexico State Fair located between Las Cruces and Deming, New Mexico from October 1-5. How do we bring San Andres National Wildlife Refuge to these area events! We travel in our U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Wildlife Refuges, mobile-educational trailer! Photographs of the refuge will be displayed in and around the mobile trailer and interactive games specific to the refuge will be set-up for all ages to play. We will provide more information on this website as the dates approach. Be sure and check back and view our Events Calendar to remind you of the dates.
Please contact the refuge for information and assistance on any of the above locations.