Ninety-five percent of the Rocky Mountain population of the Sandhill Crane migrate through the San Luis Valley each spring and fall, and a large percentage of those birds spend much of their time in and around the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. This is the attraction that has brought people to Monte Vista for the annual crane festival in March for more than 25 years. Crane sightings are virtually guaranteed in spring and fall. In addition, the wildlife auto tour loop on the refuge takes you past numerous fields, ponds, and cattail marshes where you might see birds ranging from Buffleheads to bitterns and wildlife from elk to badger to muskrat. Northern Harriers cruise low over the wetlands almost year-round. A visit to this refuge is likely to be a highlight of any wildlife-watching excursion to the San Luis Valley.County: Rio Grande
Habitat: Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Marsh, Wet Meadow
Directions: Take CO 15 south from Monte Vista to the refuge auto tour route on the east (signed). Also drive CR 8S along the refuge's southern border, CR 3E on the east, and other county roads in the area.
Delorme: 90 A2
Roads of Colorado: 134 B4-C4
Dates of Access: Open all year
Ownership: US Fish and Wildlife Service
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations.
Parking: Unpaved parking areas
Lodging: Hotels in Monte Vista or Alamosa
Handicapped Access: Good opportunities for viewing from car.