Hiking Trails

Hiking in to view the beautiful refuge scenery


Below is a list of details about all the hiking trails on Bosque del Apache NWR. For a quick trail comparison guide click on the printable document below.

Trail Comparison Guide 



Chupadera Wilderness National Recreation Trail 

(9.5 miles)


The Loop and Chupadera Trails wind through typical Chihuahuan desert scrub habitat dominated by four-wing salt bush, creosote bush, and mesquite. A gentle climb will lead you to a bench (about one-half mile from the trailhead) that offers a panoramic overlook of the refuge and surrounding areas. Hikers may continue on the loop and return to the trailhead and parking area, or they may head to the peak of Chupadera Mountain. An incredible variety of desert plants, reptiles and birds, as well as interesting geological formations can be observed as you gain altitude from the valley floor to the peak.

Canyon National Recreation Trail 

(2.2 miles)


This trail takes visitors through native Chihuahuan desert and into Solitude Canyon, a deep ravine carved into sandstone by flash floods over the ages. Scenic vistas of the canyon and the refuge are favorite photo opportunities. The abundance of burrows, holes, nests, and middens gives evidence to the snakes, lizards, birds, bats, rabbits, kangaroo rats, and other desert wildlife that are active along the trail, especially in the cooler morning and evening hours. This trail loops through the southern edge of the Indian Well Wilderness Unit.

Marsh Overlook Trail

(1.5 miles)

Walk through willows and cattails and around a seasonally-flooded wetland on this trail. Look for secretive marsh birds like bitterns and Virginia rails in the marsh. The trail includes a quarter-mile (round-trip) spur trail to a reflection bench on top of a bluff that overlooks the south end of the refuge and is well worth the ten minute detour.

Boardwalk Trail 

(.75 miles)


This trail takes you across a semi-permanent wetland that has year-round wildlife viewing opportunities. Cattails and bulrushes hide night-herons, marsh wrens, and busy muskrats, and turtles bask on exposed snags in open water. Cormorants and grebes are common in this area.

Rio Viejo Trail 


(1.7 miles)

Walk along a former channel of the Rio Grande as it winds through a restored cottonwood forest. Golden cottonwoods, native grasses and an abundance of migrating songbirds make it a must-hike in the fall.

John P. Taylor Jr. Memorial Trail 



(1 mile)



This trail takes you into a restored section of cottonwood savannah and salt grass meadow along a historic channel of the Rio Grande. This restoration is a work in progress that is a tribute to late refuge biologist John Taylor, who’s years of research in salt cedar eradication and native habitat restoration provided a vision for the future of the refuge.



Wilderness Area Access

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge has three wilderness units that total approximately 30,000 acres. The Indian Well (9,987 acres), Chupadera (5,300 acres), and Little San Pascual (22,448 acres) Wilderness units are open for hiking year-round from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. There are two trails on the refuge that provide access to some of the acreage on the west side; Chupadera Wilderness National Recreation Trail and Canyon National Recreation Trail.  


  • Motorized vehicles, bicycles, horses, and overnight camping are not allowed in the refuge wilderness units. 
  • You may hike off trail in these areas. 
  • Travel is at your own risk and you should notify a friend/family member of your trip plans. 
  • These areas are also open to hunting during certain seasons. 
  • Horses are only allowed in the Little San Pascual Wilderness when used in support of legal hunting.