Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is located deep in the heart of New Mexico, about 90 miles south of Albuquerque. The refuge has 57,331 acres that straddle the Rio Grande River at the north edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. Over 12,000 acres are wetlands that attracts tens of thousands of birds for the winter. Bosque del Apache is best known as the winter home of over 10,000 sandhill cranes and more than 20,000 geese. A 15-mile loop drive lets visitors see much of the wildlife by car. The annual Festival of the Cranes is held just before Thanksgiving to celebrate the arrival of the Sandhill cranes. The nearest town with hotels is Socorro, New Mexico, about 18 miles north of the refuge's visitor center.