Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge

We love birding. Whenever we take a roadtrip, we make it a point to look at a map to see if there any National Wildlife Refuges in the area available to visit. On a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park, we noted two of them: Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge.

Located just east of Alamosa, this wildlife refuge is right on the way to the park. When we finished our sandboarding adventure early, we decided to drive through. There are two driving portions for the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, one on the north, and one on the southeast side. The one on the north can be visited in 30-45 minutes. It takes a little longer to do the one on the southeast.

South End

The south driving tour comes up on the south side of the road as you are leaving Alamosa. There is a sign, but our map took us there, too. Drive south until you come to the buildings. There is a small sign, and the entrance to the one way route.

As you follow along the route, you’ll do a little loop. There are a lot of open spots to spot waterfowl. We saw ruddy ducks, coots, stilts, and avocets. This was the best part of the refuge.

The road along the south side is easy and follows the river.
The ponds are right along the road.
There were lots of ducks and shorebirds.

We were hoping to walk the Rio Grande nature trail, but unfortunately the trail was closed. If you visit, make sure to plan some time for a quick walk if it is open. The trail is 2.0 miles roundtrip. Here is the brochure.

The trail looks like a nice walk along the water’s edge.

East Side

There is a second part along the east edge of the Alamosa National Wildlife refuge. There’s a road to the north that leads across the tracks to a whole extra section. You have to drive along the eastern edge, heading south to get to the next area, but it is a really large area. The road out to this area is a bit sandy, so it might not be passable for cars. We made it fine in our van, but we also have a little experience driving on roads like this.

You are up on the ridge in the East section, and you can see the ponds spread below. We saw deer, and a lot of birds that we identified through binoculars, mostly varieties of ducks. This section was a little harder to visit, but we found it worth the extra drive. The views of the area are very lovely.

The eastern area is more of an overlook.
We saw a few deer here.
There were lots of great blue herons on this side.
You need your binoculars to view the birds on this side of the refuge.

The Bluff Overlook Drive was also on our list to hike, but we ran out of time. This trail is 1.0 mile long and turns along the bluff.

If you are a bird lover, or like to see beautiful areas, then add Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge to your itinerary when visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park.

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