Have you ever dreamed of witnessing one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles? Imagine thousands of sandhill cranes taking flight against a backdrop of snow-dusted mountains and vibrant sunsets. This winter, treat yourself to a magical experience by visiting Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in New Mexico, where you can marvel at the annual sandhill crane migration and capture stunning photographs to cherish for a lifetime.

A Winter Wonderland for Wildlife Enthusiasts

Nestled between the Chupadera and San Pascual Mountains, Bosque del Apache NWR is a sanctuary for over 350 bird species, 70 mammals, and 50 reptiles and amphibians. However, it’s the sandhill cranes that steal the show each winter, as they descend upon the refuge by the thousands to feed and rest for the season.

From late November through February, you’ll have the opportunity to observe these elegant birds up close, as well as other migratory species like snow geese and various ducks. It’s a must-visit destination for birdwatchers, wildlife photographers, and nature lovers alike.

“My first visit to Bosque del Apache blew me away. I kept thinking – wait a minute – this is the kind of wildlife I expect to see in faraway countries like South Africa or Kenya! But it’s right here in the heart of New Mexico and so easy to reach!’ – Susan J. Preston

Making the Most of Your Visit to Bosque del Apache

To ensure you have the best possible experience at Bosque del Apache NWR, here are some tips and recommendations:

Plan Your Trip

TIMING is KEY
Peak crane migration occurs between late November and January, so plan your visit during these months for the best viewing opportunities.

ARRIVE EARLY
The most spectacular sights can be witnessed at dawn and dusk when the cranes take flight en masse. Be prepared for an early start, arriving at least 20-30 minutes before sunrise to catch these unforgettable moments.

Gear Up

DRESS for COLD WEATHER
Winter temperatures can be chilly, especially during early mornings and evenings when temps can dip close to or below freezing. Dress in layers and wear warm clothing to stay comfortable. If you plan on using your camera, consider wearing mittens that allow you to insert warming packets – it gets VERY cold standing on flooded up fields, especially if you’re not moving around!

BRING BINOCULARS and a CAMERA
Don’t miss the chance to capture the beauty of the sandhill cranes and other wildlife. A telephoto lens is highly recommended for close-up shots.

Explore the Refuge

TAKE a GUIDED TOUR
Join a ranger-led tour or birdwatching walk to learn more about the refuge’s wildlife and habitats. Check the Bosque del Apache NWR website for schedules and details.

DRIVE the AUTO TOUR ROUTES
Two well-marked auto tour loops offer excellent wildlife viewing opportunities and provide access to observation decks, trails, and photo blinds.

photograph of three cranes soaring across a dramatic sunset sky over Bosque del Apache NWR

Sandhill cranes in flight at Bosque del Apache NWR. This image is in my new book, BOSQUE, Winter Wings, available for purchase here

Experience the Sandhill Crane Migration for Yourself

Don’t let this winter pass you by without experiencing the breathtaking sandhill crane migration at Bosque del Apache NWR. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, a passionate photographer, or a nature enthusiast, this once-in-a-lifetime event is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for the wonders of our natural world.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Bosque del Apache NWR today and prepare to be amazed by the majestic sandhill cranes and the stunning beauty of this unique winter wonderland in the heart of New Mexico.

If you fall in love with the incredible light and landscapes, and want to experience the majestic migratory birds all year round, why not purchase my luxury coffee table book, BOSQUE, Winter Wings, available for purchase here on this website!