The unique ecosystems of the San Luis Valley have a plethora of birds and waterfowl. A tapestry of wetlands and agricultural fields are filled with the sounds of cranes, geese, ducks and more, including deer and elk herds. The San Luis Valley has two national wildlife refuges open to the public, the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge.
The Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge (MV-NWR) was established in 1952. It is 14,804 acres of artificially created yet intensively managed fields and wetlands to provide habitat for a wide variety of waterfowl and other water loving birds. Common varieties sen are mallards, pintails, teal and Canada geese, as well as American avocets, killdeer, white-faced ibis, egrets and herons. Wells and irrigation canals, some built as far back as 1880, provide a network of precious water to maintain the wetland habitat. Every March the MV-NWR and local organizations host the Crane Festival. A weekend event that highlights the 6 week long north migration stopover of nearly 20,000 Sandhill Cranes. It is truly a sight to behold, we never grow tired of watching them dance! The Visitor Center is located by turning south on Broadway Ave. (highway 15) and traveling south about 6 miles.