National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings.
At Bosque del Apache, seasonal wildlife attracts visitors from around the world to participate in wildlife observation, wildlife photography and interpretation. Additional opportunities for environmental education, hunting, and fishing may also be seasonally available.
Paying the entrance fee or purchasing your federal passes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge directly benefits the refuge. All proceeds are used to maintain and improve the visitor services program, directly benefiting you - the visitor!
Daily Entrance Fee -- $5 (cash/check/credit card)
Single private, non-commercial vehicle rate (including pedestrian and bicycles)
Daily Entrance Fee for Single Commercial Vehicle -- $50 (cash/check/credit card)
Fifteen passenger van or tour bus
Bosque del Apache Annual Pass – $15 (cash/check/credit card)
Annual entrance pass to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Good for one year from the month purchased. Available to the general public.
Federal Duck Stamp – $25 (for sale in the Nature Store)
Permits entrance to all National Wildlife Refuges that charge an entrance fee. Valid July 1 – June 30. Available to the general public.
Entrance is free to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge with a Federal Recreation Lands Pass, which can be purchased at the visitor center or, seasonally, at the fee booth (cash or check only).
Every Kid Outdoors 4th Grade Pass - No fee
Permits entrance to National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, and Bureau of Land Management sites that charge entrance fees. Available to 4th graders with valid voucher. Learn more and obtain voucher: everykidoutdoors.gov
There is not an ATM available on the refuge.
Fee Free Days 2023 - No fee on the following days:
January 16, 2023 (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
February 20, 2023 (Presidents' Day)
June 19, 2023 (Juneteenth)
September 23, 2023 (National Public Lands Day)
October 8, 2023 (First Sunday of National Wildlife Refuge Week)
November 11, 2023 (Veteran's Day)
Know Before You Go
The refuge is at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. Days are usually sunny, and a temperature change of 30 degrees Fahrenheit or more between dawn and noon is common. Thus, water, a hat and other sun protection, plus layers of clothing that can be added and removed, are recommended. Insect repellant is recommended spring through fall.
Camping and overnight parking on the refuge are not allowed. The visitor center parking lot can accommodate motor homes as well as cars. You are welcome to unhitch and use your tow vehicle on the Scenic Drive, but it is not required (the Scenic Drive is a wide gravel road with few overhanging branches). Parking is available at each of the trailheads.
A water refill station is available in the visitor center, but please plan to bring your own food. If you pack it in, please pack it out.
The visitor center is a great place to begin your visit. Friendly staff can provide a map and make suggestions on trails and areas and times to observe specific wildlife.
Dawn and dusk tend to be the best times to observe wildlife (year-round). Wildlife is often close to the Scenic Drive to observe without additional tools, though many visitors bring cameras or binoculars or both to enhance their viewing opportunities.
Flush toilets are located adjacent to the visitor center. Flush toilets are open from 8am - 4pm.
Vault toilets are located at the parking lots for the Flight Deck and the Rio Viejo/Bike Trails. Vault toilets are open when the tour loop is open.
Points of Interest
The Visitor Center and Nature Store are a great place to begin upon your arrival to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Here, volunteers are available to provide you with a map and let you know what is happening on the refuge. Displays in the visitor center explain habitat management and introduce you to the wildlife that call the refuge home. A nature store, run by the Friends of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, has field guides, checklists, and nature-themed gifts to help enhance your visit.
A water refill station and fountain are located inside the visitor center, available concurrently with hours the visitor center is open. Bottled water is not available on the refuge. Potable water is not available on the Auto Tour Loop.
Open every day from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset (year-round), the Scenic Drive is approximately 12 miles long, bisected by a two-way road. Please observe one-way directional signs.
What To Do
If you have 15-minutes.
Stroll through the visitor center or the adjacent Desert Arboretum.
If you have one hour.
Drive the South Loop or North Loop and search for seasonal wildlife.
If you have half a day or more.
Drive the South Loop and make stops at the Dabbler & Diver Deck, the Boardwalk, and the Rio Viejo Trail before continuing onto the North Loop.
While most visitors are drawn to Bosque del Apache to observe wildlife being wildlife, a number of other activities may be of interest. From picnicking and fishing to hiking and photography, everyone can experience Bosque del Apache a little differently.
From quiet marshes to sweeping vistas, the twelve nature trails of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge offer a variety of sights, sounds, and wildlife. The trails vary in accessibility and difficulty, but all provide opportunities to experience nature in solitude or with family and friends. Seasonally, wildlife and wildflowers may be observed along the trails. Visitor Center staff may be able to help you choose which trail to embark upon! See the trails section for more information.
Rules and Policies
In addition to laws and policies which govern all National Wildlife Refuges, there are a few rules specific to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
The Visitor Center is located at 1001 NM-1, San Antonio, New Mexico; the coordinates for the Visitor Center are 33.804777, -106.890917
From points north (Socorro, Albuquerque, Santa Fe): drive south on Interstate 25 to exit 139 (San Antonio), go east 0.25 miles on US 380 to the flashing signal at the village of San Antonio, turn south (right) onto Highway 1, and drive south to the Visitor Center (on right).
From points south (Truth or Consequences, Las Cruces): drive north on Interstate 25 to exit 115, then north on Highway 1 to the Visitor Center (on left).
From points east (Carrizozo, Roswell): drive west on US 380 to the town of San Antonio. At the flashing signal at the village of San Antonio, turn south (left) onto Highway 1, and drive south to the Visitor Center (on right).
From points west (Quemado, Springerville): drive east on Highway 60 to the town of Socorro, then right on Main Street toward Interstate 25. Merge onto south-bound Interstate 25 to exit 139 (San Antonio), go east 0.25 miles on US 380 to the flashing signal at the village of San Antonio, turn south (right) onto Highway 1, and drive south to the Visitor Center (on right).