Sevilleta (Sev-ee-eta) National Wildlife Refuge just off I25 at exit 169, encompasses 360 square miles and is one of the largest refuges in the USA.
The refuge has an interesting history, during his search for the fabled cities of gold, the area was named by Juan de Oñate in honour of the Spanish city of Seville. At the end of the Spanish occupation the area became the Sevilleta de La Joya Land Grant, and was administered by Mexico and then after 1848 it belonged to the USA.
In 1928 after New Mexico became a state, Socorro County bought the land, it changed hands again in 1936 when it was bought by General Thomas Campbell who ranched the land for the next 30 years. Shortly before his death the general formed the Campbell Family Foundation. In 1973 the Nature Conservancy acquired the land from the foundation and today the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservancy work in partnership on the refuge.
All different sorts of eco systems from high mountains, to wetlands, to desert make up the refuge. The visitor centre has remote cameras usually at watering holes in different areas of the refuge and you can see bears, wolves, mountain lions, deer, coyote all different types of animals.
We hiked two of the trails by the visitor centre, our first hike was the Nature Loop which is just over a mile long. At one point we could see across I25 to the wetlands and were lucky enough to see what the biologist back at the reserve told us were elk. The photograph isn't very clear as we were so far away.
The other hike we took was the Mesa View Trail which is about 3.8 miles long, the charming lady at the visitor centre recommended that we climb the mesa first as since all the rain last autumn they have a tumbleweed problem. They certainly do!
As we followed the trail up towards the mesa we could see what, to us, looked like dried grass along the side of the path, but was actually tumbleweed, in places you could barely see the path, so it could’ve been quite difficult to see the route if we’d hiked down from the top.
Once at the top we walked to the viewpoint, tumbleweed was everywhere, we could see for miles and enjoyed the view from one of the strategically placed benches for a while before continuing to follow the trail around the top of the mesa.
Eventually the trail led down into a bowl
and then along a small slot canyon,
the views were excellent and there were some very pretty wildflowers.
From there the trail looped its way around the bottom of the mesa until we were back at the visitor centre.
Have fun, we are!