Visit Us

National Wildlife Refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. 

A 2-mile round trip hiking trail (overlooking the Mora River) is a fantastic way to experience the refuge. Currently, wildlife observation and photography are conducted along the Loma Parda County Road and State Highway 161. Public access is limited to the Juniper Trail, county road, state highway, and special events on refuge.  

If you need to conduct business with the refuge or are planning to stop by the refuge office, you are encouraged to call ahead and make an appointment. Call 505-248-6453 for an appointment.  

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

Restrooms

There is a vault toilet at the Juniper Trail parking area.  

What to Do

If you have 15-minutes:

  • Juniper Trail 0.25 mile walk  

If you have one hour: 

  • Juniper Trail 2.25 mile hike  

If you have half a day or more: 

  • Juniper Trail 2.25 mile hike 

  • Visit Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge and Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge 

Know Before You Go

When planning a trip to the Refuge, it is important to wear appropriate footwear, sturdy shoes for land excursions and to dress for the weather.  

Consider bringing: 

  • Water 

  • Food 

  • Binoculars 

  • Field guides 

  • A hat 

  • A Walking stick

  • Sunscreen 

  • Insect repellent 

  • Anything else that might make your outdoor experience safer and more enjoyable 

NOTE: Most of the refuge has little to no cell phone service; therefore, visitors should leave a hiking plan with someone else. 

Visitor Tips

The weather can quickly change. Be prepared for strong winds, sudden rain, and both cold and hot temperatures.  

Trails

Juniper Trail 

*Bison are free roaming. For your safety and theirs, do not approach them. 

Location: From Interstate I-25 take exit 364 and turn west onto Highway 161. Continue on the NM 161 road 5.5 miles until you see a gravel road going north (County Road 016-Loma Parda County Road). Cross the cattle guard and continue down Loma Parda County Road approximately 1 mile until you get to the Juniper Trail parking lot.  (N 35.834030° W 105.078270°)

From Highway 518 take Highway 161 east from Buena Vista. Continue on the NM 161 road 14.5 miles until you see a gravel road going north (County Road 016-Loma Parda County Road. Cross the cattle guard and continue down Loma Parda County Road approximately 1 mile until you get to the Juniper Trail parking lot.  (N 35.834030° W 105.078270°)

Open Season: Open year round, ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

Length: 2 1/4 miles 

Route Type: Lollipop trail - A trail with a loop at the end of an out-and-back start/finish.

Surface: Natural surface - Dirt, Gravel, Rock 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Trail configuration: Information:  The Juniper trail winds through several types of habitat, including shortgrass prairie, piñon/juniper, oak, and coniferous forests. 

 Pets must remain leashed at all times.

When planning a trip to the Refuge, it is important to wear appropriate footwear, sturdy shoes for land excursions and to dress for the weather.  

Consider bringing: 

  • Water 

  • Food 

  • Binoculars 

  • Field guides 

  • A hat 

  • A walking stick

  • Sunscreen 

  • Insect repellent 

  • Anything else that might make your outdoor experience safer and more enjoyable 

  •  

NOTE: Most of the refuge has little to no cell phone service; therefore, visitors should leave a hiking plan with someone else. 

Related Documents

Driving Directions

From Interstate 25: 

To get to the Rio Mora Administrative Office: Take exit 364 and turn west onto Highway 161. Go about 5 miles west on Hwy 161. Near mile marker 16 there is the 161 Welcome Area. The refuge entrance gate is open Monday-Thursday from 7:00am-4:30pm. We may be out on the refuge so please call ahead 505-248-6453 and make an appointment.  (N 35.836465°,  W105.048749°)

To get to the Juniper Trail parking area: Take exit 364 and turn west onto Highway 161.Continue on the NM 161 road 5.5 miles until you see a gravel road going north (County Road 016-Loma Parda County Road). Cross the cattle guards and continue down Loma Parda County Road approximately 1 mile until you get to the Juniper Trail parking lot.  (N 35.834030°, W 105.078270°)

From Highway 518:  

To get to the Rio Mora Administrative Office: Take Highway 161 west from Buena Vista. Go about 16 miles east on Hwy 161. Continue on the NM 161 road 16 miles until you see a double cattle guard and gravel road going north, this is the 161 Welcome Area. The refuge entrance gate is open Monday-Thursday from 7:00am-4:30pm. We may be out on the refuge so please call ahead 505-248-6453 and make an appointment. (N 35.834030°, W 105.078270°) 

To get to the Juniper Trail parking area: Take Highway 161 west from Buena Vista. Continue on the NM 161 road 14.5 miles until you see a gravel road going north (County Road 016-Loma Parda County Road. Cross the cattle guards and continue down Loma Parda County Road approximately 1 mile until you get to the Juniper Trail parking lot.  (N 35.834030° W 105.078270°)

Other Facilities in the Complex

Locations

Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area
1611 NM Highway 161 Watrous, NM 87753
Driving Directions

From Interstate 25: 

Take exit 364 and turn west onto Highway. Go about 5 miles west on Hwy 161. The refuge gate is almost directly across the road from Mile Marker 16 and a brown Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge sign to the north. There is currently road construction at our gate and there is a sign that says "Road Closed". Continue down that road and you will see the corral on the left and the lane then forks, stick to left fork and head down the canyon. We will have signs on where to park and how to get to the education building. 

From Highway 518:  

Take Highway 161 west from Buena Vista. To get to the Juniper trail, continue on the road 14 miles until you see a gravel road going north. Cross the cattle guard and continue down Loma Parda County Road approximately 1 mile until you get to the Juniper Trail parking lot.  

To get to the office continue on Hwy 161 16 miles. The refuge gate is almost directly across the road from Mile Marker 16 and a brown Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge sign to the north. There is currently road construction at our gate and there is a sign that says "Road Closed". Continue down that road and you will see the corral on the left and the lane then forks, stick to left fork and head down the canyon. We will have signs on where to park and how to get to the education building. 

Hours
Headquarters Office Hours
Mon - Thurs
8 am - 4 pm
Juniper Trail
Daily
Sunrise - Sunset