It’s National Wildlife Refuge Week! National wildlife refuges are America’s best-kept secret – offering unparalleled opportunities to experience the great outdoors and providing vital habitat for thousands of species of animals and plants, both abundant and rare. With at least one national wildlife refuge in every state and territory (plus an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas), there’s a wildlife refuge nearby waiting to be explored. Photo Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico by Robert Dunn.
For beauty off the beaten path, venture two hours southwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Sierra Ladrones Wilderness Study Area. There are no trails through the area’s diverse landscapes of high mountain peaks, isolated canyons and badlands. Hiking to the top of Ladrones Mountain – pictured here during a storm – rewards visitors with stunning panoramic views of the area’s mesa grasslands and piñon-juniper woodland. Photo by Julie Aguirre, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).
A true oasis in the desert of southwest New Mexico, Gila Lower Box Canyon Wilderness Study Area is a lush thicket of cottonwood, willows and wildflowers. The area provides excellent birding with one of the highest bird diversities in the state. Spring and summer visitors also enjoy river recreation including tubing and fishing. Photo by Mike Howard, Bureau of Land Management.