This national wildlife refuge provides an auto-tour loop that traverses some of the very best and most extensive cattail marshes in Colorado. Birds found here include Sora, Virginia Rail, American Bittern, Great-tailed Grackle, and Marsh Wren (abundant). Muskrats are common, and with luck you might spot a mink. Because of the dense cattails, this refuge does not host as many Sandhill Cranes as the Monte Vista refuge does, but you might see them here in spring and fall. CR S-116, which runs north-south along the east side of the refuge, can provide some excellent birding opportunities as well, especially for those willing to scan distant ponds with a spotting scope. Deer and elk are resident in the area. The saltbush flats to the east of the road, especially in the area across from the hunter’s access parking lot, can be full of Sage Sparrows in spring and summer, not to mention Vesper and Brewer’s Sparrows and Sage Thrasher, black-tailed jackrabbits and coyotes.County: Alamosa
Habitat: Sagebrush, Marsh, Pond/Lake/Reservoir
Directions: From the intersection of CO 17 and US 160 in Alamosa, head east on US 160 2.9 miles to El Rancho Lane (CR S-113) and turn right (south). The NWR visitor center is 2.3 miles south on El Rancho Lane. To get to CR S-116, from El Rancho Lane two miles south of US 160, head east on a nameless and unsigned dirt road for three miles, then turn right (south) onto CR S-116. Contrary to most maps, there is no access to this portion of S-116 from US 160.
Delorme: 90 A4, 91 A5
Roads of Colorado: 135 D4-E4, 151 E1
Dates of Access: Open all year
Ownership: US Fish and Wildlife Service
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations.
Parking: Unpaved parking lots
Lodging: Hotels in Alamosa
Handicapped Access: Good opportunities for viewing from car.