Welcome to the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge! Located in southern Colorado along the banks of the Rio Grande, this Refuge was set aside as a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Rio Grande Nature Trail-Seasonal Closure 4/15/2024

*** Rio Grande Nature Trail - Seasonal Closure *** April 15th, 2024

A seasonal closure of the Rio Grande Nature Trail on Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) will be in effect starting Monday, 04/15/2024 to protect the federally endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (SWFL). 

The SWFL is a small riparian riparian
Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

Learn more about riparian
dependent songbird that uses willow and cottonwood habitat for migration, foraging, and nesting. Human activities (e.g., hiking, bicycling) have the potential to disrupt nesting territory establishment and foraging and nesting activities, making adults less attentive to their eggs or young, and expose nests to predators. Any human disturbance that leads to temporary or permanent negative effects to breeding success slows the recovery of this species.

Riparian habitat along the Rio Grande on Alamosa NWR is designated Critical Habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the protection and management of Endangered Species is the highest priority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. This seasonal closure of the Rio Grande Nature Trail will reduce conflicts between human activities and SWFL throughout the nesting season when they are most vulnerable to impacts from disturbance. We appreciate the cooperation of visitors in protecting SWFL by complying with the seasonal closure. Signs at the trail head will indicate where public entry is prohibited. The reopening of the trail is expected when the nesting season is completed, on or about September 1, 2024.

For additional information or questions, please contact Refuge Biologist Scott Miller at 719-588-7268 or Refuge Management at (719) 589-4021.

Visit Us

Wildlife Viewing & Events (4/16/2024)

  • Spring has sprung and the wetlands and riparian riparian
    Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

    Learn more about riparian
    areas are starting to green up.  Several species of migrating birds are singing and feeding throughout the refuge as they are continuing their northern migration or preparing for the mating season.  
  • To protect the federally endagered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, the Rio Grande Nature trail has been closed for the duration of the mating and nesting season.  
  • The Refuges Wildlife Drive is greening up nicely after our spring prescribed burn prescribed burn
    A prescribed burn is the controlled use of fire to restore wildlife habitat, reduce wildfire risk, or achieve other habitat management goals. We have been using prescribed burn techniques to improve species habitat since the 1930s.

    Learn more about prescribed burn
    . However, we are continuing to keep this unit dry so we can continue our cattail mitigation project later this summer.  This project aims to set back the succession and encroachment of cattails within this unit.  Too many cattails can choke out short emergent vegetation and become monocultured.  

As a Reminder: Please respect all Refuge Boundaries, Rules & Regulations, and Closed Areas. These areas are there for wildlife and resource protection. If found inside closed areas or violating refuge regulations, Refuge Officers can and will issue citations. 

Refuge Information

Know before you go:

When you plan for a trip to the Refuge, wear sturdy shoes for hiking and dress for the weather. Bringing water, food, binoculars, field guides, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and anything else that might make the outdoor experience more enjoyable.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      About the Refuge

      Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 to provide food, cover, and breeding habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife. The Refuge conserves and enhances the mixtures of wetland and desert habitats found in the area to accomplish these goals. Habitat management tools used on the Refuge include water and wetland management, weed control, haying, grazing, and prescribed fire.  

      The 12,026 acre Refuge is located at the south end of the San Luis Valley, a high mountain basin in south-central Colorado. It’s one of three national wildlife refuges in the Valley that provide crucial feeding, resting, and breeding habitat for over 200 bird species and other wildlife.  The San Luis Valley, sitting at 7,800 feet, extends over 100 miles from north to south and 50 miles from east to west. Three mountain ranges surround it – the Sangre de Christo to the east, the San Juan to the west, and the Saguache to the north. At sunset, the high peaks of the Sangre de Christo take on the blood red glow which inspired the Spanish explorers to name the range “Blood of Christ.”  The surrounding mountains feed the arid valley with precious surface water and replenish an underground reservoir. The mountain snow melt and artesian wells provide needed water to the agricultural community and to the rivers, creeks, and wetlands that thread across the valley floor.  The Refuge lies within the Rio Grande floodplain and consists of wet meadows, old river oxbows, riparian riparian
      Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

      Learn more about riparian
      corridors, and dry uplands. These diverse habitats support a multitude of songbirds, water birds, waterfowl, raptors, mule deer, beavers, and coyotes. The west side of the Refuge borders the Rio Grande, long considered to be the life blood of the San Luis Valley. Water from the Rio Grande maintain these important habitats.  

      About the Complex   

      Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca National Wildlife Refuges are areas set aside for migratory birds and resident wildlife. The Refuges are now combined administratively into the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  The 12,026 acre Alamosa Refuge includes wetland areas, riparian corridors, wet meadows, and river oxbows. The wetland and river habitats provide a wildlife oasis in this dry region. These habitats support a variety of wildlife, including songbirds, water birds, raptors, deer, beavers, coyotes, and more.  

      The artificially created wetlands on the 14,804 acre Monte Vista Refuge are intensively managed to provide habitat for a wide variety of waterfowl and other water birds. Mallards, pintails, teals, and Canada geese are common, as are American avocets, killdeers, white-faced ibises, egrets, and herons. Irrigation canals and wells provide precious water to maintain this important wetland habitat.  

      The 92,500 acre Baca Refuge is a highly diverse combination of shrublands, grasslands, wet meadows, playa wetlands, and riparian areas. This Refuge was set aside not only as another haven for migratory birds and resident wildlife, but also as an important piece in a broader conservation effort to protect the wildlife, habitat, and water of the north and east portions of the San Luis Valley.  These three refuges of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex contribute to over 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System – a network of lands set aside and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specifically for wildlife. The National Wildlife Refuge System is a living heritage, conserving wildlife and habitat for people today and generations to come. 

      What We Do

      April 9th, 2024                                                  PUBLIC NOTICE

      Notice of Cattle Grazing Opportunity on the 

      Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge – Alamosa Cattle Grazing Site 2024-2028

      The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking to permit selected agricultural operator(s) for a Cooperative Agricultural Program at the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge (ALMNWR). The refuge is located in southcentral Colorado, near the east extent of the San Luis Valley.  Under this permit agreement, selected operator(s) will fulfill prescriptions for specific intensities of cattle grazing for a period of up to 5 years (2024-2028).  The acres available for grazing will vary annually based on habitat and environmental conditions, and management needs.  The Alamosa NWR is proposing to graze up to approximately 1600 acres (Alamosa Cattle Grazing Site) each year for a period of up to 5 years (2024-2028).  Cooperator(s) will be selected through an open, transparent, and competitive process where applicants will be scored and ranked based on a combination of competitive bids, reference checks, flexibilities, ability to provide in-kind services, and relevant experience.

      Alamosa Cattle Grazing Site Bid Package, with detailed information, applications, and bid forms, can be obtained at the Refuge Complex Office, 7824 El Rancho Ln, Alamosa, Colorado 81101, online at Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov),  or electronically by emailing Assistant Refuge Manager Dean Lee at dean_lee@fws.gov.   

      Applications must be received by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, April 26th, 2024. (Postmarked by Friday, April 26th, 2024, if mailed)

      Hand delivers or Mail to:                                                           Email to:

      San Luis Valley NWR Complex                                   Dean_Lee@fws.gov with subject line 

      Dean Lee                                                                     “2024-2028 Alamosa Cattle Grazing”

      Attn:  2024-2028 Alamosa Cattle Grazing                                           

      7824 El Rancho Lane

      Alamosa, CO 81101

      Alamosa Cattle Grazing Site Permit Announcement 2024-2028

      Bid Sheet & Supplemental Application_Alamosa 2024-2028

      Form 3-1383C - Special Use Permit Application

      For More Information Contact:

      Assistant Refuge Manager Dean Lee

      (719) 589-4021 Ext. 1008



      San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex

      7824 El Rancho Lane

      Alamosa, Colorado 81101

      For Immediate Release


      Prescribed Burns Planned

      Alamosa, Baca, & Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges

      Contact:  Dean Lee, (719) 589-4021 x1008, Dean_Lee@fws.gov 

      Alamosa, CO – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be conducting prescribed fire operations on the Alamosa, Baca, and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges to remove old and matted vegetation to improve wildlife habitat. Additionally, slash piles of natural materials will be burned as conditions and needs exist.  Professional fire personnel from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Mid-Plains Fire Zone, State, and Federal Partners will conduct the fire operations. Planned target dates for burning will be during the months of March and April and again in October and November 2024. The Refuges’ Auto Tour Routes and Walking Trails may be temporarily closed to the public during fire operations for safety concerns.  For your safety, please avoid these areas!  Areas will re-open as soon as possible based on fire activity and safety.

      Smoke will be visible to local residents, towns, and highways during the day and may last for a few days following burning operations. Signs will be posted along the nearest major roads and all burns will be monitored until they are declared completely out. 

       For up-to-date information, you may contact Alamosa and Monte Vista Refuge Manager Suzanne Beauchaine (719) 589-4021 x1003 or Assistant Refuge Manager Dean Lee (719) 589-4021 x1008, or Baca Refuge Manager Ty Benally (719) 256-5527.

      Additional information can be found on our San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SanLuisValleyRefugeComplex

      Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information see https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/wood-smoke-and-health

      – FWS –


      Our Species

      Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

      The southwestern willow flycatcher is a small, neo-tropical, migrating bird found in areas of the southwest United States and as far down as South America.  Their primary habitat is dense thickets of trees and shrubs along riparian riparian
      Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

      Learn more about riparian
      corridors of rivers and streams, especially willow thickets.  They typically breed and nest in the southwestern states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and portions of southwestern Colorado.   However, due to habitat loss and fragmentation from drought, stream channelization, and water diversions for agriculture and urban development, the population declined drastically.   In 1995, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listed the southwestern willow flycatcher as a federally endangered species and began recovery plan efforts.  In 2002, the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Recovery Plan was finalized, which paved the way for habitat restoration and critical habitat designation. 

      On Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, the southwestern willow flycatcher historically inhabited the vast amount of willow and other riparian habitats found along the Rio Grande.  However, in the early 2000's the Rio Grande Basin experienced the worst drought on record.  This resulted in severely degraded willow habitat throughout the Refuge.  The southwestern willow flycatcher population was immediately impacted and survey numbers indicated a drop from 29 territories in 1997 to only 3 territories in 2010 (Owen and Sogge 1997).  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took action and designated critical habitat for the entire riparian habitat along the Rio Grande on the Refuge.  This action prohibits any disturbance to this designated habitat to insure southwestern willow flycatcher population recovery.  Other actions taken were the seasonal closure of the Rio Grande Nature Trail and certain portions of the Refuge's public fishing access area from April 15th through August 31st.