New Mexico’s protected wildlife areas along the Rio Grande

As one of the corridors making up the Central Flyway, the Rio Grande Valley through New Mexico is host to a vast array of migrant birds flying seasonally through the state to breeding grounds further north or wintering areas both within New Mexico and places to the south. As a result of its importance, numerous parks, preserves, and, sanctuaries have been established along and near the Rio Grande in New Mexico to provide places of refuge for them. But, it is not just birds who benefit from this lovely string of sanctuaries – many other species of wildlife reside here year round or migrate through them.

Bernardo Waterfowl Management Area

The list below identifies those wildlife sanctuaries, preserves, parks, wilderness areas, and other protected areas found along/near the Rio Grande River Valley in New Mexico. Nearly 1,150,000 acres (or approximately 1,800 square miles) are listed below, not including those for which the acreage is unknown and the vast land and forest areas owned and/or managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

Observation platform at Bernardo

Needless to say, this scenic string of pearls is a wonderful asset for the state and the communities located near them, as they draw wildlife and nature enthusiasts from around the nation and across the planet. If you are ever in New Mexico, be sure to check some of them out, as many are easily accessible from I-25. Peace!

This shown in italics have been visited by the blog post author.

Rio Grande del Norte


Antelope Wilderness Study Area (1992) – Socorro County = 10,710 acres

Albuquerque Open Space areas (various dates) – Bernalillo County = 30,000 acres

Belen Waterfowl Area – Valencia County = 230 acres

Bernardo Waterfowl Management Area (1971) – Valencia County = 1,675 acres

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Area (1939) – Socorro County = 57,331 acres

Caballo Lake State Park (1964) – Sierra County = 5,384 acres

Casa Colorado Waterfowl Area – Valencia County = 423 acres

Cochiti Lake Recreation Area – Sandoval County = ?

Elephant Butte Reservoir State Park (1964) – Sierra County = 24,500 acres

La Joya Waterfowl Management Area (1940) – Socorro County = 3,550 acres

Leasburg Dam State Park (1971) – Dona Ana County = 293 acres

Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks National Monument (2014) – Dona Ana County = 496,330 acres

Petroglyph National Monument (1990) – Bernalillo County = 7,244 acres

Prehistoric Trackways National Monument (2009) – Dona Ana County = 5,255 acres

Presilla Wilderness Study Area (1992) – Socorro County = 8,680 acres

Rio Grande del Norte National Monument (2013) – Taos County = 242,555 acres

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park – Bernalillo County = 38 acres

Rio Grande Valley State Park “The Bosque” (1983) – Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Valencia Counties = 4,300 acres

Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (1973) – Socorro County = 230,000 acres

Sierra de las Canas Wilderness Study Area (1992) – Socorro County = 12,838 acres

Socorro Nature Area – Socorro County = 120 acres

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge (2012) – Bernalillo County = 570 acres

Veranito Wilderness Study Area (1992) – Socorro County = 7,206 acres

Whitfield Waterfowl Conservation Area (2003) – Valencia County = 97 acres

Beautiful Organ Mountains
Snow geese at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Area


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