stablished in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge happens to be positioned along an east-west and north-south juncture of two major migratory routes for many species of birds. Most out-of-town visitors will see or hear a new bird species before even making it into the refuges Visitor Center! Sit in the refuges breezeway and watch the birds or hike more than 12 miles of trails. Take an open-air tram ride or join a guided nature walk.
Raul T. on West Lake Trail
Great for birding. M
I went here to experience something new while getting in workout and left feeling good about both goals. There are several trails to choose from and I saw a number of interesting birds along the 3 trails that I ran. I enjoyed seeing the Rio Grande, although at that point the trail was fairly overgrown. DEET bug spray worked well in keeping off any pesky insects. Using the trails for fitness was really nice. There are also at least 3 large aluminum observation towers which are accessed by stairs so this would be a good stair-climbing workout for anyone so inclined. On the downside, several of the 'lakes' were dry or nearly dry. The facilities at the visitor center were a bit weak and are in need of improvement. The bathrooms were usable but subpar in a way that would take more than a good cleaning to correct. The staff was friendly although it seemed like there weren't too many of them. All-in-all, a good location for trail-runs with enough trail options to keep things interesting for many visits. The observation tower stairs also make a good cross-training opportunity.