Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge
- Alamosa County
Ownership: Federal - USFWS
Description: Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge. The marshes along the refuge auto tour loop may well be the best in the state, and are reliable for almost every marsh bird including Sora, Virginia Rail, American Bittern and Great-tailed Grackle. Marsh Wrens are frighteningly common. There is not a whole lot of open water along the tour route, but you should find a few ducks and coots, and maybe an avocet or even a stilt. Keep an eye out overhead for raptors and for Sandhill Cranes in migration.
Road S-116, which runs south along the east side of the refuge, provides some good scanning opportunities for ponds to the west, which, though distant, are better than other parts of the refuge for ducks, grebes and shorebirds. One good pond is two miles south of the start of the road, and another is just west of the hunter's access parking lot at 2.9 miles south. You cannot leave the road in this direction, so it's best to bring a scope and get here early, before heat shimmer messes up the view. The southern pond in particular is good for breeding Eared Grebe, White-faced Ibis, American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt. South of there, the two-mile Bluff Overlook loop might net you a distant duck or heron--Eurasian Wigeon has been seen from here. 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.
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 road 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 S-116. Contra most maps, there is no access to this portion of S-116 from US 160.