Just outside the Original Las Vegas, New Mexico, the National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) welcomes migrating birds along the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo range in the southern Rocky Mountains. The Friends of Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge offer a Sunday lecture series, a Fall Flight Festival during the November migration, a Concert for the Birds in September, a spectacular bird-filled float in the December Electric Light Parade, and special events year around. Programs throughout the year bring the Refuge to Las Vegas classrooms (and the classrooms to the Refuge).
More and more, the Las Vegas NWR is a magnet for birders from Colorado, Texas, and beyond for dozens of species of migrating waterfowl, including the Sandhill Crane. The Fall Flight Festival draws crowds shortly before the Festival of the Cranes in the Bosque del Apache to the south. The Refuge sits on a plateau above the city, with a splendid view of the mountains to the west and the town's "mascot," Hermit Peak.
The city of Las Vegas, settled in 1835 by families from Santa Fe, is a living museum of the Old West, with hundreds of old buildings, period hotels, and fine New Mexican fare. It was a stop on the Santa Fe Trail (ruts are visible on the outskirts of town), a major railroad center, a center of commerce for surrounding ranchers and now a lively college town with art galleries, museums, and restaurants.
Also visit our sister Refuge in Maxwell and the National Historical Parks at Pecos and Fort Union.
The former Wind River Ranch (including ruins of the infamous village of Loma Parda) has become the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge. Stay tuned for plans for the new Refuge.
The Pritzlaff Ranch in the Sapello River Valley, with its old hacienda and spectacular views of Hermit Peak was recently donated to the Refuge system and joins the other Northern New Mexico refuges.