Have You Visited the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico?
The Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico is a large collection of habitats for various animals and migratory birds to feed, live, and rest. It is on nearly 3,700 acres of land in northeast New Mexico near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The habitats include lakes, wetlands, woodlots, and short grass prairies. There are roughly 290 bird species, over 40 mammal species, and over 20 species of reptiles and amphibians.
The History of the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico
Long before Europeans colonized New Mexico, the land that is currently the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge was used by Native Americans to trade and find food. The Apache, Comanche, Ute, and Kiowa nations all made use of this land. Then, the land was taken over by European settlers, and the Santa Fe Trail, two miles from the boundary of the Refuge, was used by those settlers to trade between Santa Fe and Missouri from the 1820s to the 1880s. To protect the land and the animals, the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico was purchased from landowners under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act. Today, the land is owned by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Vermejo Conservancy District.
Animals at the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico
Some of the animals you’ll find at the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge include:
- Black Bears
- Mountain Lions
Reptiles and Amphibians
- Snapping Turtles
- Pygmy Short-Horned Lizards
- Prairie Lizards
- Red-Spotted Toads
- Leopard Frogs
- Channel Catfish
- Yellow Perch
- Rainbow Trout
- Green Sunfish
- White Succkers
- Plains Killifish
- Fathead Minnows
There are many more species than this, with nearly 290 bird species alone, but these are a few examples of the animals that you may see if you visit the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. There are some rattlesnakes and spiders, so know how to stay safe around venomous creatures in case you encounter them.
Plan Your Visit to the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico
The Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico welcomes visitors all year long. If you include this as part of your summer plans, you can see prairie dogs, hawks, and golden eagles. If you visit this fall, the best month to go is in October, when the refuge is most active with migrating cranes, ducks, and geese.
Even winter is a good time to visit, especially if you want to see the bald eagles, who winter in the area with a population peak in February. If you save your trip for next spring, you’ll get to see the return of many birds who have come to nest and the baby animals who are growing up in this sanctuary.
Before you go, you’ll want to call and let them know you’re coming, because the staff may be out in the field when you arrive. Call (575) 375-2331, Ext. 200. They are open from 7:30 am to 4 pm Monday through Thursday and 7:30 am to 3:30 pm on Fridays. They are closed on the weekends. You will find them at 168 Lake 13 Road in Maxwell, New Mexico (get directions). Make sure that you do your part to keep New Mexico clean while you’re there.
Also, did we mention that there are no fees and you can visit for free? You can! So, plan your visit any time of the year and experience the wildlife of New Mexico first hand!