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) will be coming soon. Currently, wildlife observation and photography are conducted along the Loma Parda County Road and State Highway 161. Public access is limited to the county road, state highway, and special events on refuge that include organized guided hikes offered throughout the year. Wildlife observation and photography are permitted during organized events. 

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.  

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. 

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 

  • 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 

Open Season: Open year round, ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset: Walking spring to fall, not open to biking or horseback riding. 

Length: 1.5 miles 

Surface and difficulty: Paved, Boardwalk, ADA compliant 

The Juniper trail begins and ends at the Juniper Trail parking area off Loma Parda County Road and winds through several types of habitat, including shortgrass prairie, piñon/juniper, oak, and coniferous forests. 

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