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December 2003
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March 2004

Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of thousands of sandhill cranes, and snow geese. The best time to go is from November through January. We went over the New Year Weekend, and there were still a number of people jostling for positions on the Flight Deck for the morning take off.
Entrance fee is $3.00 per car. The park is open one hour before sunrise, and closes one hour after sunset. There is one group reserved campground in the park, but for the most part individual camping and overnight parking is not allowed. The visitor's center is open 7 days a week. It has a small gift shop, and an informative display area. The best part is the window view of birds outside feeding at a small pond. Microphones are set up so you can hear quite clearly all the birds. Kevin saw a Gambrel's quail from this window.
The refuge has good dirt roads. There are a few trails which Kevin and I did not have time to explore. Next time! Not only are there Sandhill Cranes, and Snow geese in abundance but a wide variety of birds. Over our weekend Kevin and I managed to identify 25 different species. (And I am a hopeless bird watcher- there were still many birds that I had no idea what they were!!) Different species of Ducks, waterbirds, and raptors.
The mornings and early evenings were cold, so its a good idea to dress warmly and in layers. If you're lucky enough to have a swarm of geese fly over you, wear a hat to protect against incoming pooping.
The most direct route to the refuge from Denver is south down I-25. The turn off is well marked. San Antonio which is the little town through which you go through to get to the Refuge is home to the Owl Cafe. Sample their Chilly burgers- they are supposed to be the best ever. We didn't have a chance to sample this local delicacy, since we were charging about.
Socorro is the closest town with a number of different Motels. We stayed at the Motel 6 there since its the closest motel to the refuge. Only 16 miles away. This Motel for $3 extra offers rooms with a microwave and fridge.
I can recommend a marvellous Mexican restaurant in Socorro. It is off the beaten track, and we got directions and recommendations from our Motel Hostess. From Motel 6 head north along California (main street). Turn right at Frontage Rd (traffic lights). The road bends to the left. At the stop sign turn left, and the Mexican restaurant (Called Frank and Lupe's) is about one sixteenth of a mile down the road on the right. There is ample parking. We went to dinner here on Friday night and liked it so much we had to return on Saturday night.
If you enjoy exploring off the beaten track take exit 175 and US 60 to Ribera. From Ribera it is easy to get to the I-25. We did this detour on our return journey. It cuts out Sante Fe entirely, and its more scenic than the I-25. It is slower however, although I had very little traffic. We wanted to go to Ribera to see with the Sad Cafe was open. This little cafe has the most gorgeous mural painted on it. Unluckily for us it was closed both times we passed through. Even if it is closed it is worth a visit. So too is the Church - just south of the Sad Cafe. The Church was constructed in 1806, and is beautiful especially in the late afternoon, and sunset.
Trinidad, CO historical district is also worth a visit. There are some beautiful buildings, and a gorgeous Church, that you can see from the highway.