Recreation Opportunities in New Mexico


New Mexico has a rich wildlife heritage and a wide diversity of wildlife that can be seen and photographed by people seeking to connect with the outdoors. A smorgasbord of habitats, from alpine tundra, forested mountains, grasslands, rivers and lakes, to sandstone canyons and Chihuahuan desert — support 525 species of birds, 300 species of butterflies and a myriad of others..

We all have a stake in conserving New Mexico’s wildlife for future generations. Conservation often starts with stepping outside and visiting parks, forests, nature centers or refuges.  Many New Mexico Game and Fish refuges, known as Wildlife Management Areas, are places to get outside to view wildlife and enjoy the outdoors.

The Gaining Access Into Nature (GAIN) permit is your key to discovering a world of wildlife in your own backyard. No matter where you live in New Mexico you likely are not far from a wildlife management area that offers exciting wildlife viewing opportunities. Check out the map and list below to find what is available.



Information on more than 40 attractive birding locations in southwestern New Mexico with descriptions, maps and birding tips. See our Birding page.

GAIN: Gaining Access into Nature

GAIN activities include wildlife viewing, photography, hiking, bicycling, skiing, snowshoeing and horseback riding. Visit our GAIN page for permit requirements, participating properties and activities allowed, as well as GAIN drawing activities, which include guided wildlife-viewing tours, plus a few rare opportunities to witness and assist biologists.


Wildlife Management Areas and Waterfowl Management Areas are properties owned or managed by and under the control of the State Game Commission. For PDFs on accessibility regulations and available opportunities see Wildlife, Waterfowl and Fisheries Management Areas.

New Mexico Wildlife View Guide

Wildlife is nearer than you think! The secret is knowing where and when to look.

From the rugged beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert to the windswept alpine heights of the Pecos Wilderness, the New Mexico Wildlife Viewing Guide helps direct you to 76 prime wildlife viewing areas with the best dates, times, and places, as well as what species to look for.

publications-recreation-Wildlife-Viewing-GuideThe Guide includes:
Detailed site descriptions
Specific species lists
Maps, access, and location directions
Site amenities if available
Photo and viewing tips
More than 40 color photographs
Detailed New Mexico life zone map
Overview of New Mexico species biodiversity

The New Mexico Wildlife Viewing Guide is part of a nationwide series of viewing guides from the Watchable Wildlife Program, a public/private partnership coordinated by Defenders of Wildlife, Washington D.C. Each viewing site was selected by a panel of wildlife experts from a variety of organizations and agencies. The guide currently is only available online by downloading documents listed.