Bosque del Apache is Spanish for "woods of the Apache," and is rooted in the time when the Spanish observed Apaches routinely camped in the riverside forest. Since then the name has come to mean one of the most spectacular national wildlife refuges in North America. Here, tens of thousands of birds--including sandhill cranes, Arctic geese, and many kinds of ducks--gather each autumn and stay through the winter. Feeding snow geese erupt in explosions of wings when frightened by a stalking coyote, and at dusk, flight after flight of geese and cranes return to roost in the marshes. In the summer Bosque del Apache lives its quiet, green life as an oasis in the arid lands that surround it. The animals reflect the different habitats on the refuge. Several species of mammals including coyotes, mule deer, and elk occur on the refuge. Over 340 species of birds and many species of reptiles, amphibians and fish live here. Plants are many and diverse to reflect the different habitats of the refuge. Cottonwoods are spectacular in October/early November. Visit the Desert Arboretum and the plantings around the visitor center for a sample of plants found both on the refuge and in the North American deserts. The Bosque del Apache is located one and a half hours west of Ruidoso. The annual Festival of the Cranes is a highly acclaimed event, with hundreds of attractions and thousands of visitors.