Laws and Regulations
Refuge lands are open to public access 6 am to 6 pm daily. For those who need access before and after these times, please contact refuge management.
The refuge visitor center is currently closed for health and safety reasons. The visitor center may open in summer of 2022.
Access to the westside of the refuge property is limited to pedestrian, equestrian and bicycle access only. Driving on the refuge is limited to approved vehicles only, including those for conducting maintenance, research, and education or interpretive programs.
Stay on the roads. Please drive slowly when entering or leaving the refuge and in the parking area. Be mindful of wildlife, other users, and use caution when walking on roads. Pedestrians yield to all other uses. Stay out of construction areas and all areas signed as Closed.
The maximum speed limit on the refuge is 15 mph. Abide by all posted signs.
Camping or overnight parking anywhere on the refuge is not allowed. Special youth-oriented camping events may be allowed by a refuge-approved permit. Overnight parking only for youth crews and RV volunteers.
Keep pets physically restrained on a non-retractable leash no longer than 6-feet in length at all times. Keeping your pet on a leash prevents them from startling sensitive wildlife on the refuge and is courteous to other visitors.
Pick up after your pet. Please bring your own clean up bags and dispose of the bags in the appropriate place. Leaving your pet’s waste severely contaminates the water after rains. All stormwater drains into the Rio Grande—Keep Our River Clean! Current trash facilities are located near refuge temporary buildings.
Please pack out your trash and don’t litter. Take all trash with you to protect the habitats and wildlife of the refuge. Current trash facilities are located near refuge temporary buildings.
Do not release unwanted pets, exotic or otherwise, on the refuge. Please take them to the appropriate designated organization. Any pet—cat, dog, or exotic—poses a hazard to themselves, existing wildlife, and management operations at the refuge.
Commercial activities on the refuge are only allowed with a valid special use permit issued by refuge management. Commercial activities include but are not limited to filming, photography, and bird tours conducted by non-refuge management.
Operation of unmanned aerial systems (drones) and remote-controlled aircraft or vehicles on the refuge is not allowed. Operation includes the launching, landing, or operating of these vehicles on refuge lands or water to prevent the harassment of wildlife and protect the safety of visitors. Please visit the City of Albuquerque website for model aircraft friendly areas.
Please keep balloons and kites at home. Wildlife can mistake balloons or kites as predators and as food which changes their behaviors or may suffocate or injure them.
Keep sport-related recreational equipment at home, such as footballs, basketballs, etc. These types of activities pose harm to other visitors, wildlife, and their habitats. Please seek areas with proper sport facilities. Jogging, walking, horseback riding, and bicycling are welcomed activities.
Keep a safe distance away from all wildlife. Anyone willfully remaining near or approaching wildlife, including nesting birds, within any distance that disturbs or displaces the animal is harassing wildlife. Use binoculars or telephoto lenses for safe viewing and to avoid disturbing them. By being sensitive to its needs, you will see more of an animal's natural behavior and activity. If you cause an animal to move, you are too close!
Refrain from feeding wildlife on the refuge. The digestive systems of wild animals are adapted to food found in nature and human food could cause them to become ill. When fed, wildlife might also become bold and aggressive. Never approach a wild animal no matter how “friendly” it appears.
Please refrain from smoking within 25 feet of refuge buildings. This includes vaping and electronic cigarettes near or within refuge buildings.
Entering or remaining on the refuge while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is prohibited. This includes the possession, distribution, and use or consumption of any controlled substances.
Please no open fires. Help protect refuge and adjacent lands from wildfires. Fires are not permitted except for when used as a tool for agricultural and habitat management practices by permitted personnel.
Firearms and other weapons are not allowed in refuge buildings. Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local law.
Discharge of firearms is strictly prohibited. Help protect and keep all visitors, staff, and refuge resources safe from harm, injury, and damage.
Hunting or the unauthorized take of wildlife (fishing or trapping) is prohibited on refuge lands. Activities using of birds of prey (falconry) are prohibited.
If you see something unlawful, please contact the Refuge Manager. Take note of the date, time, and location of the unlawful activity. Call 505-248-6667.
For all emergencies please dial 911.
For non-emergencies contact Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department 505-798-7000.
Wildlife Crime Tipline: 1-844-FWS-TIPS (397-8477) or FWS_TIPS@FWS.GOV.
Special Use Permits: Permits enable the public to engage in legitimate wildlife-related activities and ensure that such activities are carried out in a manner that safeguards wildlife and their habitat. Additionally, some permits promote conservation efforts by authorizing scientific research, generating data, or allowing wildlife management and rehabilitation activities to go forward.
Special Use Permits (SUP) are required in order to conduct the following types of activities:
If you would like to conduct an activity on Valle de Oro that requires a permit, please select to correct permit from the website below, complete it to the best of your abilities and send it to refuge staff no less than 4 weeks before your planned activity.