Best Hikes Ever: Chupadera Mountain Trail, NM
Rise from the desert floor to an airy, see-all perch.
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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, about 90 miles south of Albuquerque, is a top-flight bird sanctuary for sandhill cranes, snow geese, and other migratory birds. Hike high and get a bird’s-eye view atop 6,272-foot Chupadera Mountain, the tallest in the 57,000-acre refuge. Chupadera’s crown sports an around-the-world view of central New Mexico’s craggy desert mountains—like the Magdalenas, the Sandias, and the Manzanos—the very peaks we usually cover instead of this off-the-beaten-path gem. Pack four liters of water and hit the dusty and rocky 9.5-mile Chupadera Mountain Trail. It starts amid Chihuahuan Desert scrub of grass clumps and spiky agave, and ascends 1,700 feet through wind-tickled grasslands en route to the top of the Chupadera’s summit pyramid. April through September, start at sunrise to avoid intense midday heat. Entrance fee: $5 per vehicle
Map USGS quad Indian Well Wilderness
Contact (505) 248-6911; fws.gov/southwest