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USA Parks
New Mexico
Northeast Region
Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge
LAS VEGAS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
LAS VEGAS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Route 1 Box 399
Las Vegas, New Mexico   87701
With the Rocky Mountains to the west, the Great Plains to the east, and the Chihuahuan Desert to the south, Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a diversity of habitats. Located along the Central Flyway, the Refuge provides an important resting, feeding, and wintering area for migrating geese, ducks, and cranes.

Las Vegas NWR rests on a plateau in the foothills with the Rocy Mountains just beyond. River canyon walls drop below the refuge on three sides. Las Vegas (Spanish for "the meadows") preserves both wildlife habitats and a slice of New Mexico's rich cultural history.
Nature of the Area
Wherever ecosystems intercept, you're bound to find more kinds of wildlife than in either ecosystem separately. Las Vegas NWR harbors animals, birds and plants of both mountains and plains, and those that thrive in both.

Northern harriers hover over marshes in search of voles. Bald Eeagles haze rafts of ducks and coots in search of prey. Wild turkeys wander the pinyon-juniper woodlands. Pronghorn blend into native prairies home to badgers and burrowing owls. Mule deer find shelter in timbered, sandstone canyons. Coyotes roam across every habitat.

Birds winging north and south along the Central Flyway add to the refuge bird wealth. The Las Vegas NWR bird list records 271 species, many that ebb and flow with the seasons. Out of the list, 80 species nest here and 50 of those are neotropical migrants, birds that spend winters south of the U.S. The refuge's 14 species of raptors glide through during their spring and fall migration. Viewers might see three or four hawk species on a typical fall day visit.

Migrating shorebirds, like long-billed dowitchers and sandpipers, probe the mudflats in early fall and spring. Some 20 bald eagles spend winters here, attracted by open waters and hundreds of ducks and geese. Mallards, canvasbacks, and wigeons peak in October and November. You'll find highest numbers of ruddy ducks, northern shovelers, northern pintails, and gadwalls in March and April. For best sandhill crane and Canada goose watching, visit in fall and winter.
History of the Area
Old world Indians inhabited the fertile valley of Las Vegas as early as 8,000 B.C. Pueblo Indians lived here during the 1100s until eventually forced out by drought and Apaches.

Coronado invaded and claimed the territory for Spain in 1540 as he searched for the legendary "Seven Cities of Cibola". Conquistadors and missionaries followed close on Coronado's heels and established Spanish rule. Nomadic tribes of Plains Indians and Comanches roamed through on their excursions west to raid the pueblos and early Spanish settlements.

The area's Spanish influence and culture are as prevalent today as more than 400 years ago. You'll still find rock corrals and division fences of the small ranchitos that dotted this landscape during that era.

The historic Santa Fe Trail and the railroad brought a brief wave of economic progress to the Las Vegas area at the turn of the century. Rangelands that gave way to farms and plows today have come full circle. Large ranches gradually displaced small ranches and cattle graze throughout this part of New Mexico.
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Directions
The Refuge is 6 miles southeast of the city of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Refuge Headquarters can be reached from I-25 at exit 345; then east on State Highway 104 for 1.5 miles, then south on State Highway 281 for about 4 miles.

USA Parks
New Mexico
Northeast Region
Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge
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